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Monday, January 02, 2012

Tips for Painting Small with Pastels

'Winter Softness' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis
'Winter Peace' 2.5 x 3.5" pastel purchase through auction

Yesterday I shared with you why I like to paint small and today I would like to share some tips for painting really small with pastels. I am often asked how I get a fat piece of pastel to work on such a small (2.5x3.5) piece of paper. I don't use pastel pencils at all and only sometimes use NuPastels. I usually just use my regular soft pastel pieces. You would be amazed at how easy it is to get small marks. It is just how you hold them....I'll use the edges or lift up on the stick to make smaller marks. Today's painting shows how I used a 2.5 x 3.5 painting as a study for a larger version. Here are some more tips for painting small with pastels.


Instead of putting in every detail try using bigger blocks of color with just a few details. The viewers mind will fill in more detail than the eye can see.


Even on a small support you can still suggest scale and depth with aerial and linear perspective. Remember to layer objects and have less detail, cooler and lighter color and less contrast in the distance. This will help a small painting seem more expansive.


To create a looser more expressive painting and to hep you keep things simple use the ‘bigger brush’ approach. Don’t rely on pointed hard pastels of pastel pencils as they may cause you to become too concerned with details. Use your large pastels and you will make bigger marks. You can actually get detail with the edges of a big pastel but you are more likely to be more expressive.


To simplify your subject to fit into a small format think in Threes. When planning your painting allow yourself to choose:


THREE VALUES....dark, medium and light

SIMPLE LIMITED PALETTE with other mediums you would only use three tubes of paint and mix all of your colors. In pastel you should keep your palette limited to 12-20 pastel sticks.

THREE FINISHING MARKS after blocking in your big shapes and developing the painting to a finish, allow yourself to make three finishing marks. These will be your final details. Choose their location carefully.

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