Colored Grays


My new workshops are coming up and there is always the question which sticks to buy.

Colored greys are a key element to my paintings. Very often pastel painters don’t have these greys or neutrals in their collection, but they’re necessary for a good balanced painting. Why do I not simply use greys mixed from black and white? Because they don’t exists in nature and make a painting look dull. There is never a pure white or black or a mixture from these in my paintings. For my white clouds I use a very light blue, yellow or green.

As you can see in my plein air oil painting study »Sunday evening.«


Sunday evening, oil on MDF, plein air study, 18×24 cm, 2017, Astrid Volquardsen

To recognize these greys can be learned and it is one of the reasons why it’s so important to paint plein air and have a really good look at the colors out there. A camera will never be able to differentiate the spectrum as the human eye does.

When painting with oils you can simply mix grays or neutrals:


Pastel artists need to buy the sticks. How do you find them? Well, look at the unimpressive colors in the assortment. They are overlooked when placed next to the bright colors. Girault

Girault Grau Screenshot.jpeg
I really like the color range from Great American Artworks. And I really do like the creativity in naming those greys: Dorian ( refers to the novel The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde), Earl ( tea) and Church Mouse.
Graukarte Great American
Unsison Graukarte
Some of my personal favorite colored grays for pastels.
20170129-Persönliche Grautöne

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