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Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Simple Start for a Pastel Painting


'Mountain Memories'       16x20          pastel        ©Karen Margulis

You just can't go wrong with this simple start. So often we get caught up in deciding about the underpainting...choosing techniques and colors.  This is fun but sometimes it is nice to just simplify the painting process.  A Value underpainting with an alcohol wash is a simple but very effective way to start a painting.  

Today I am sharing a commission I just finished in which I decided to do a value underpainting. I did a pair of 16x20 paintings that will be hung together. I chose  to do the value underpainting so that both paintings would have something in common. The underpainting unified them.

Value underpaintings are also a great way to set up the design of the painting. It provides that strong value map that will hold the painting together. It acts like the glue....the details to follow will now have something to hold them together!

'Mountain Memories II'            16x20          pastel 

4x6 studies available in my Etsy shop

I began by doing small 4x6 studies. I was working from paintings I had already finished but making some changes in format. The studies gave me and my client a visual. We could decide on composition and colors on a small scale.


Next I began the paintings by doing the Value underpainting.  I used a dark blue Nupastel #305 and blocked in the darks. I varied the pressure for the middle value shapes. Then I used a stiff brush and rubbing alcohol to wash in the pastel. I allowed it to drip which adds to the painting.
I am using Uart 500 grit. Once dry I began layering with my softer pastels. I used Terry Ludwig pastels.


Here is my working space. I am working from the original painting and the small studies. No photos.
My client is happy with the results and I had a fun time painting them.  If you haven't tried an alcohol wash and would like to, you might like to have a look at my Digital Download Demos in my Etsy shop. I have a demo on doing a turpenoid wash which is the same process only I substituted alcohol for the turpenoind.  The download is $6 click here for more information.

4 comments:

Carol Josefiak said...

Your blog about staying loose is so good. I visited your easy shop, too. It's very nice. I just joined etsy, so far so good. I'm probably not presenting very well, my photos aren't too good. Anyway, I enjoy your blog and have visited often. Thank you for your well thought through instruction.

robertsloan2art said...

This is a beautiful technique. What color to use for the dark underpainting can also set the tone for the rest. I like how these two came out and it's a wonderful trick.

Vanessa said...

I've never used rubbing alcohol on an underpainting. I've always used charcoal align with a paper stump to blend. Can the alcohol be applied to any kind of paper Karen? Sandpaper, art spectrum colourfix etc?

Karen said...

Vanessa, you need to use a paper that can get wet so any sanded paper will work except for LaCarte which can't get wet!