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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What I learned from Painting in Black & White

'Meadow Spirits'       9x12      pastel      ©Karen Margulis

I was vacuuming the studio when the cord knocked over a box of black and white pastels.  Upside down.  All over the floor.  I wasn't even planning to keep them.  They were the black, white and gray pastels that came in my new DT pastel set. I figured I wouldn't be painting with black and white so I was going to offer them to students.

As I picked the pastels up and put them in the box. (only one casualty)  I began to see the possibilities.  I love black and white photography so why not a black and white painting? 

Diane Townsend pastels
I did a black and white thumbnail sketch and chose four pastels. I picked a dark, light, a middle dark and middle light. I also threw in the black for accents. I used a piece of gray Canson. I am loving this paper!
I was pleasantly surprised. I thoroughly enjoyed painting with these 4 pastels and learned a few lessons.

Black & White painting with Value Thumbnails

  • I thought I would miss using color. After all one of the things that we are most drawn to as pastelists is the color!  But I found it was one less thing to worry about. By removing the issue of color and color choices I was able to focus on the painting itself. 
  • Without color VALUE was easier to see and to judge.  I only had to deal with four values so it made it easier to simplify the painting.
  • Without color I was able to pay more attention to EDGES.  Where would I use soft edges? Where would I add more detail and sharper edges.
  • It was easier to understand atmospheric perspective without color.  I had to make use of tools other than color to create the illusion of depth....such as lighter values and less contrast and detail in the distance.
I plan to keep my black and white and gray pastels. I enjoyed this little experiment and I will be painting with them again!


Dee Martella said...

Is it possible to paint over a black and gray thumbnail..I read that it makes the pastel mor luminous(?) Is that possible?

Karen said...

It is possible but I would fix the black and white with workable fixative or perhaps brushing over it with alcohol so that the black an dwhite doesnt mix with your color....otherwise you will get mud instead of luminosity!

Joke Klootwijk said...

Very Nice painting with a quiet mood! i like this painting.

Karen said...

Thank you very much!

Hollis Hill said...

I just saw this post and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I just went berserk with so many colors in my painting that I just
had to laugh. I completely lost the entire painting. Now I am ready to paint with four values, and I'm hoping it will get me back on track. Thanks, Karen!

Crystal Thursby said...

Excellent idea! As I struggle over value! Thank you, beautiful painting and starting now!