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Friday, February 01, 2013

The Most Intimate Way to Paint with Pastels

'Sing Out Loud'       8x8       pastel      ©Karen Margulis   $75 buy here
It's true. Pastel is a very sensual medium. When painting with a pastel stick there is nothing between you and the paper. No brushes, no mediums, no mixing of color....just sticks of pigment on a surface. A Pastel artist is up close and personal with a painting.  It's one of the things I love about pastels.  I didn't think painting with pastels could get even more intimate until I discovered a new way (for me) to apply pastels.

Painting with the dust of a pastel!


'Hunker Down'         6x6       pastel   $55 Buy Here
I'm in love all over again! This week I blogged about the Dusting technique and creating paintings and special effects by shaving pastel and pressing it into the painting.  This is a little different. For these two bird paintings I used the dust and painted with my fingers. Now there is truly nothing between the paper and pastel.  Here is what I did:


  • I used Canson Mi-Teintes paper since I would be blending and wanted a non sanded surface. I tried the bumpy side to introduce some texture. I used a brown paper because that's what I had!
  • For my pastels I used my 'Box of Bits'  the little pieces of leftover or broken bits of pastels that I saved for something. Now I have something to use them for.
  • I didn't shave pastels to get my dust although you could, instead I crushed the little pieces to make piles of pastel powder. I put the piles of powder into a foam meat tray. 
  • For the top bird I crushed the pastel into my palm but found I had to clean my hand in between every color change. I preferred preparing the piles of color in advance.
  • I painted by dipping my thumb or forefinger into the pastel and smearing it on the paper. I used my finger like a brush. It was like finger painting with pastel dust! 
  • I found that each pastel type made different marks. I loved the effect of the softer buttery pastels such as Great Americans. If there with small uncrushed bits, they made nice juicy marks.
  • I did take a pastel pencil at the end to draw in a few details/lines but other than that it was all finger painting.
  • For the chickadee in the snow I dusted (shaved) pastel and pressed it into the painting with a palette knife.
DISCLAIMER:  I did not use gloves. I used some hand barrier cream. I don't think I would use this technique exclusively unless I wore gloves but used sparingly I would definitely try to incorporate it into a painting.  It was a lot of fun and it really got me up close and personal with my subject! It's just another tool for my toolbox!

1 comment:

pattisjarrett said...

This sounds like a fun technique.