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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why You Should Shave Your Pastels

'Summer Buzz'            16 x 20      pastel        ©Karen Margulis  sold
 Shave pastels!  Yes that's what I said and if you are looking for a twist on pastel painting then you should get ready to shave some pastel dust!   If you been a regular blog reader then you have probably read my posts on the Dusting technique.  It is actually an old technique of applying pastel to paper but I only discovered it last year. I have been having fun with it ever since.

What is Dusting?  It is simply another way of applying pastel. Instead of making lines of thick marks, or dots and dashes, the pastel is shaved with a blade or edge of a palette knife and allowed to fall onto the paper (which needs to be flat)  You can either build up a painting with many layers of this shaved dust as I did for this Pear demo, or you can use the dust for special effects which I did for the Queen Annes Lace painting.

Shaving a pastel with  a palette knife

Painted with layers of pastel dust pushed into the paper  with a palette knife
 I have two suggestions for the effective use of the dust in a painting.

  • Dusting can be used to unify and simplify a busy area in a painting. Say you have an area that has been overworked or has too many busy details. You could brush it out and start over but instead consider dusting a thin veil of pastel in a color that will unite the various elements in the busy areas.  I did this in the top painting. I had too many weeds and colors going so I shaved some green pastel to give a haze of color which harmonizes and pulls everything together.

  • Dusting can be used to make interesting pops of color.  If you would like to add some hints of color in a painting such as hints of wildflowers in a field. You could just paint the dots of color but they might look stiff and unnatural.  If you dust on some small bits of pastel and press them into the paper they will look less contrived and more natural.  I used this effect in the above painting to make some of the little hints of hidden wildflowers. 
This week my classes are working on the dusting technique.  I invite you to follow along with us and give it a try. You can read more about how it is  done in a past blog post

Tomorrow I will present another way to paint with pastel dust! 

1 comment:

pattisjarrett said...

This is a gorgeous painting.