Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction and Paint Along Videos!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

How to Use Oil Paint with Pastels ...Marsh Demo

'Into the Twilight' 18 x24 pastel with oil underpainting

I love the versatility of pastels. There are so many ways to start a painting and one of my favorite ways is to start with oil paint. I do some kind of underpainting for probably 95% of my paintings. I find the painting process more exciting with an underpainting, especially the wet drippy ones. I recently posted a watercolor underpainting demo and starting with oils is similar but the results are most definitely different!

close-up of oil underpainting
I find that the oil paint underpaintings are richer and more intense than watercolor. I also prefer the results when the paint runs and drips. With the oils, the turpenoid creates the greatest drips that look like spiderwebs or roots or nerve endings. I love them! They are perfect for marsh grasses and meadows filled with grasses. Here is what you need to do this technique:
  1. You need a surface that can take a solvent based underpainting. I prefer UArt pastel paper.
  2. Be sure to use an inexpensive bristle brush, The sanded papers will ruin your brushes so you don't want to use your good ones.
  3. I use regular oil paints and thin them with turpenoid. You want the paint to be thin...the consistency of tea. If it is too thick it will fill the tooth of the paper and will take too long to dry. The thin paint should take less than an hour or so to dry.
  4. You have to experiment with the consistency. If it is too thin and drippy than you won't get good spiderwebs. I like to put down my darks first and then let the other colors drip into the darks (see photo)

Demo of Twilight Marsh pastel
  1. (from top left) Finished underpainting on Uart 18x24. Lots of great drips!
  2. Close-up of my spider webs in the trees.
  3. Terry Ludwig Pastels Sunset set. I used some of these wonderful colors for the sky.
  4. Starting the pastel by blocking in the darks. I like to keep them the same value as the underpainting.
  5. Starting the sky. Putting in some blue purples and yellows. I add some reds and oranges to the tree line so they will look like they are catching the light of the setting sun.
  6. Adding more dark purples to the sky. I decided I want the scene to be closer to twilight after the sun has set.
  7. Now I blend the sky. I don't want the sky to be too busy and compete with the marsh grasses.
  8. This is a close-up of the tree line and the fireflies that I added with yellow pastel dust.
  9. Finished!


Lora said...

The colors and sense of light in your pastel painting are beautiful!

I love to see the process of other artists. Thanks for the demo!

Donna T said...

Great demo and painting - thanks so much Karen! Do you just use the Turpenoid to clean your brushes? (now I have an excuse to buy oil paints!)

Karen said...

Thank you Lora! I am going to share another underpainting demo today so I hope you will visit again!

Karen said...

Hi Donna,
It's a great excuse to get some oils. I do use the turpenoid to clean the brushes. Just be sure you use cheap stiff bristle brushes. They do wear down from the sanded paper!

Nick Miliokas said...

Interesting demonstration. Thank you. Underpainting seems to be an art in itself.

Oil Paintings said...

The colors and sense of light in your pastel painting are beautiful!Thank you sharing....