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Monday, June 11, 2012

Here's a Technique for Adding Texture to Pastels

'Beautiful Bloom'             5x7      pastel          ©Karen Margulis
Detail of 'Beautiful Bloom' showing the build up of texture
I think I will call it 'Compound Dusting'.  I first discovered the pastel technique of dusting on Richard McKinley's Pastel Pointers Blog. You can read about dusting here.  Basically it is a way of adding layers of pastel by shaving some pastel dust over your painting ad fixing it with fixative or pressing it into the painting.  I have experimented with dusting over the last few months and got some exciting effects. But I wanted to kick it up a notch. I wanted to find a way to add even thicker texture to my pastels.  Here is my first try at Compound Dusting.  What is that you ask?

To use the dusting technique, you need some pastels that you don't mind shaving. If they are very soft you will get more chunks and crumbles and use up the pastel quickly. If the pastel is too hard you will get a very fine dust.  I prefer a medium soft pastel. I am enjoying the consistency and colors of the Jack Richeson soft pastels for this technique.  For compound dusting I am building up the painting by dusting, pushing the dust into the paper with a rolling pin and spraying with workable fixative. Instead of this beging the final layer, I keep on layering by repeating the dusting process. See the step by step below:

  1. (from top left)  I am working on a piece of Wallis Belgian Mist mounted to matboard. I block in my flower with some hard and soft pastels. No blending.
  2. I lay the painting flat on a table and start dusting by shaving the pastel with a palette knife over the painting. I start with the darkest areas. I roll this in with a rolling pin. I use a piece of glassine to keep the colors in place. Now I spray with workable fixative and immediately start shaving the next layer.
  3. I have repeated step two 4 or 5 times and the pastel is getting thick.
  4. To finish the painting I put it back up on my easel and refine areas with soft pastels. I also do some negative painting by removing pastel and drawing with a steel push pin. Love to do this! 
I really enjoyed the compound dusting and I am going to see how else I can incorporate this technique into my pastels!
Read more on Dusting HERE
Read more about using a steel push pin HERE


Karin said...

Thank you for posting this. This seems very interesting. I should try it at one point.

Karen said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Karin. It is a fun technique!

Vanessa said...

Wow I had heard of and tries dusting before but I've never done it in repeated layers. I'll definitely have to try this one. The rolling pin coupled with glassine paper is a great idea. (Adding to 2-do list).

Have you ever tried modeling paste? It's great for building texture as well though it does use up the pastels quickly.

Karen said...

Thanks for the tip on modeling paste Vanessa! I will have to give that one a try! I appreciate you sharing!