Thursday, May 15, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Twilight

When I first started seriously trying to do lighting studies with pastels on the movie, A Bug's Life, back in the mid-90's, I tried working on black Canson paper, as my inspiration for this, Ralph Eggleston, the Art Director of Toy Story, had done the same. However, I found in short order that I could not put down enough color to overcome the effects of the black ground, as Ralph could do so beautifully, so I went looking for other, less 'extreme' color choices. I quickly settled on the color  called 'Twilight', as it was a middle value, and the violet grey tone seemed to be harmonious with shadows and atmosphere in natural light, or at least the kind of light I was attempting to portray in my studies.

During that time, I started taking my pastels with me on bike rides around Pt. Richmond at lunch time, attempting little studies of nature, as I had noticed how fast the medium seemed to be. That violet grey paper worked pretty well outside. As I became more interested in working out of doors, the pastels
came with me on summer vacations to Oregon and Canada, and I incorporated the color Tobacco, a rich, warm brown, in my paper arsenal to allow for the colors of lakes, rivers, and streams I was studying.

About 3 years into this process, I began teaching periodic classes about the effects of natural light at work, to get folks that were lighting shots on computers, out of their offices to 'light shots' in nature, so to speak. Naturally I recommended they all use Twilight and for atmospheric views, and the other for creeks. That is my basic history with the use of those two colored papers over the last 18 years, though I have explored, and used, other colors.

Over the last few years I had noticed that Twilight was in short supply at local retail outlets, and had taken to ordering it in bulk from online sources. As I was prepping to teach a workshop, I wrote an online supplier asking about the shortage. He, in turn wrote Canson, and forwarded me their reply, which read as follows:

Twilight just didn't make the cut when Canson trimmed the colors to 50. Purely a business decision based on sales. 

Interestingly, I had started trying other lighter valued papers in the last few years, as I had noticed that I was getting a different range of brightness in the results, and perhaps the Twilight paper was making that expression more difficult. That said, I still use it regularly, but am left with a few conundrums to ponder: 

What to do when a reliable item one has been using for years is no longer being made?

How much of our work relies upon, or is defined by a specific element in our process?

The short answer to both these questions is "Stock up, and move on."

First off, I did locate and purchase enough sheets to last me awhile, but I am also fine with exploring other colors, and even surfaces. It turns out that Twilight is still in production in the 'Touch' line of lightly sanded papers that Canson produces out of Australia. Meanhwhile, I'm working with Moonstone, Dawn Pink, and Flannel Grey, among others. I don't feel,  nor do I wish to be reliant on a single color or surface to produce work that satisfies me.

In closing, here is a selection of my pastels done on Canson Twilight over the years as a tribute to its functional versatility.

So long Twilight!