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Monday, April 15, 2013

N is for Nupastels....when to use them

'Life in the Country'         8x10         pastel        ©Karen Margulis

Nupastels.  For many of us pastelists these hard sticks are the first pastels we purchase. They are inexpensive and readily available. Along with a few Rembrandt pastels and some Canson Mi-Teintes paper we begin our journey with pastels.

But our journey often stops right there.  Why? Because the Nupastels and the Canson paper don't give us the results we want. We can't get those vibrant chunky marks that we admire in many pastel paintings.  So many artists give up on pastels.  This doesn't have to happen. We just need to learn when to use the Nupastels!

The 4 Nupastels I used to block in today's painting.

Nupastels are useful pastels. They need to be a part of your supplies but in order to really experience all that pastels offer you also need to have some good softer pastels in your box. I always encourage my students to buy the best supplies they can afford. This helps eliminate much of the frustration of working with very hard pastels on paper without much tooth.

I like to use Nupastels for my Block-in.

Nupastels are perfect for the important first layer which I like to call the BLOCK-IN.  They are considered one of the hardest of the soft pastels and so they don't put out a lot of soft pigment. So they don't fill up the tooth of the paper as quickly as a softer pastel.

Some of the Nupastel block-in showing along with further work with softer Terry Ludwig pastels
One of the ways I like to start a painting is to choose 4 values of Nupastels and to block in the large shapes of the painting using these 4 pastels and matching the values in my black and white thumbnail. After I put down a layer of Nupastel I will often blend it into the paper with a piece of pipe foam insulation. Sometimes I will use rubbing alcohol to create a wet alcohol wash.

After this first layer the paper will still have plenty of tooth for the subsequent layers of softer pastels. Today I used Terry Ludwig soft pastels.  I will not use the Nupastels anymore in the painting unless I want to add some finishing fine details.

By the way I would like to thank everyone for all of the wonderful comments to my posts while I was away last week. I appreciate you all taking the time to add to the discussion!  I would have loved to respond to everyone but the internet connection on the ship was painfully slow and expensive!


Gwen Sylvester said...

Thank you for posting this information on your blog. I have a box of Nupastels as well as a box of soft pastels. I work in acrylics for the most part, though I really enjoy learning more about how to use pastels. -love your work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your opinion on the Nupastels. I was checking them out at the art supply store, but have read mixed reviews from pastel artists. I did like the feel and the way they went onto the ground.

Barbara said...

Thank you for this post. I'm just starting out in pastels, and art in general, actually, so the whole concept of underpainting and values is also relatively new to me. Very grateful for folks like you who take the time to post useful info that is helpful to beginners. And your painting is just lovely!

Galina Gaysina said...

Thank you very much for the review! Thinking to buy nupastel to completemy lovely scminke and sennelier :)
Maybe you can tell something about cara n' dache cubex pastel? Thanks