|'Hollyhock Heaven' 11x14 pastel over watercolor $165 Etsy|
Deciding where to put that first pastel mark can be intimidating. Especially if you have an underpainting that pleases you. First, remind yourself that it is only paper and that you are having fun! Then study the underpainting and decide where it might lead you. It may suggest something very different than your reference photo and that is OK. That is the beauty of a WU....it can help you become a more expressive painter.
But the time does come for you to make your first mark. I have discovered that there are two ways that work for me. I can either develop the painting as I usually do by laying in the dark shapes and working all over the painting or by painting the star first. The choice depends on how much of the underpainting I want to preserve. Let me describe the star method first. (I will detail the first method in part 2)
|watercolor underpainting for a hollyhock painting|
Paint the Star FirstIf I have an underpainting that I really like. Maybe it has cool drips or interesting colors. Maybe I was successful in suggesting details with the watercolor. I know that I don't want to cover it all up with pastel. It is so easy to get too heavy handed and overwork the pastel and before you know it those yummy drips are gone! (trust me I have done it more often than not) Here is another approach:
- Decide on your center of interest and chose the element that is the most important. In the hollyhock painting it was the flowers. Paint this thing first.
- Be sure to keep a very light touch. Whisper your pastel at first. You can always add more pastel but you want to build it up gradually.
- After painting the center of interest then evaluate the painting to see where else you need pastel. You are working out from your center of interest. If the underpainting is working consider leaving it be or adding a light glaze of pastel so as not to obscure the watercolor.
- TIP: If you like a color in the underpainting and wish to keep it, find a pastel to match it in color and value. If you lightly apply the pastel it will work beautifully with the watercolor.
I used this approach with today's hollyhock painting. I painted the flowers first and built them up with several layers of pastel. I only used light layers over the rest of the painting especially the sky area. I like the way the transparency of the watercolor and thin pastel contrasts with the heavier flowers.
Tomorrow I will cover my more typical approach to the pastel application.