'Wishful Thinking' 5x7 pastel with watercolor underpainting
I love doing watercolor underpaintings for my pastels. But I struggled with them. I still struggle but a workshop with Richard McKinley last year has given me hope. As Richard told us it is just a matter of practice. Do more underpaintings...just underpaintings...never mind the pastel...just practice! So I have been working at it and I love the possibilities of the watercolor. In today's post I will pass on some tips on getting started with watercolor underpaintings. In my next post I will show you a step by step demo and discuss why you might want to consider watercolor under your pastels.
My watercolors from top left: Daniel Smith Color Map set, Pelikan Opaque pan, Schminke Hordam tubes, Schminke travel pan set.
Sample watercolor underpaintings from top left: Schminke pans (today's dandelion painting), Daniel Smith, Old Holland pans, Pelikan pan set
- Surface Choice: You need to use a pastel surface than can accept a wet underpainting. Certain papers such as LaCarte can't get wet. Some surfaces perform better than others. Rigid surfaces such as Pastelbord don't warp or buckle. Some papers buckle more than others and do better when wet and stretched or mounted. I have had success with unmounted Uart paper with little to no waving. Canson MT Touch also performed well. I have had unmounted Wallis buckle but just got a tip to dampen it and stretch it first so I have to try that!
- Surface Color: White surfaces are best for the most vibrant results. Dark and grey papers tend to make the watercolors look dull. I prefer very light colors with white being my favorite.
- Watercolor Choice: There is a variety of opinions on the best watercolors to use. I have always heard that artist grade watercolors are best with the richest pigment and vibrant results. I have had success though with an inexpensive Pelikan pan set. My favorite set is my travel Schminke pan set but this little set was expensive...$100! I just got some Schminke tubes that were on clearance so I look forward to trying those.
- Brushes: You want to use inexpensive bristle brushes and not the expensive watercolor brushes. The sanded papers will tear up the brushes. I also like the stiff brushes to scrub the colors in and make texture.
- Most important consideration: Don't be Skimpy...Skimpy =Wimpy! This is the most important thing I have learned. The little travel sets are nice but you just don't get enough paint moving around. You don't want it thick but if your little pans are tiny you will end up being too skimpy with your paint.
If you haven't tried a watercolor underpainting or want to improve yours...get your paints out and come back for tomorrow's post for a step by step demo.
For more information see Robert Sloan's review of the Daniel Smith Color Map set