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Monday, April 30, 2012

Underpainting 101...Value Underpaintings for Pastel

'The Promise of a Beautiful Day'      8x10       pastel      ©Karen Margulis  
 I love doing underpaintings for my pastels. I probably do some sort of wet underpainting for 95% of my work. The fun part is deciding which technique to use. I love to experiment and so I am not content with using only one technique. Alcohol, turpenoid washes, watercolors, oils....they all have their own unique results. I usually choose an underpainting technique that I feel will best supposrt my subject or concept for my painting.
An underpainting technique that I love for beaches and snow scenes is a value underpainting with an alcohol  or turpenoid wash. It really works well for any landscape in which there is a strong contrast of darks and lights...or where you really want to get a nice feeling of light. What you are doing is a value study on your paper with a hard pastel and brushing it in with water,alcohol or turpenoid.

Value Underpainting with an Alcohol Wash
Supplies for an Alcohol Wash
 How to do a Value Underpainting
  1. You need to work on sanded paper that can take a wet wash, rubbing alcohol, a stiff cheap bristle brush and a dark hard pastelsuch as a Nupastel. I like a dark blue-purple.
  2. Design your painting and do a quick value sketch.
  3. Block in the big simple shapes and assign each a value. Concentrate on using dark, middle, light and the white of your paper.Keep it simple! Vary the pressure of the pastel to get the right value.
  4. Make sure your values shapes are not spotty...connect shapes when you can.
  5. Using the alcohol paint the shapes starting with the lightest. Try to keep brush clean so that you don't end up with a big dark blob.
  6. Tip: take your time and really paint with your brush. Try to describe the object you are painting.Don't rush this part...paint with sensitivity.
  7. Let the underpainting dry before adding pastel.
If you would like to try some other underpainting techniques you might like to read my other posts on underpaintings HERE


DMannion said...

Wonderful instructions and great blog. Love your beach scene. You've inspired me to dust off my pastel box and take it traveling.

Karen said...

Thank you so much Diane! I appreciate you visiting my blog and for your nice comments! Pastels are wonderful and I love taking them with me when I travel. I do try to downsize and take a small box and find it is usually all I need!
Thanks again!

robertsloan2art said...

Wow, that is gorgeous. I love it. I've tried a water wash technique sometimes with deep violet, it's very cool. Ought to try it with alcohol now that I've got some.