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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Trying an Aggressive Pastel Surface

'Chicago Lights'         11x14         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
 I wasn't sure if I would like it.  I tried a small piece when it was first introduced and I found it too rough.  So I didn't buy anymore.  I have to remind myself that there is NO bad pastel surface or paper. Every surface has it's own quirks and we just need to figure them out and find the best match for paper, pastel and technique.  That is where the playing comes in!  It is good to stick with a paper for awhile to understand how it works for you.  But it is also good to allow some experimentation with other papers. You just never know what you might discover!

With that thought in mind I pulled a sheet of Jack Richeson paper off my shelf. It came in a sample pack of papers and I avoided it based on my first experience with it's roughness or toothiness.

I discovered that toothy can be good sometimes!

closeup detail
I used a piece of 11x14 paper in slate grey.  The paper has a small border and is a nice heavyweight 350 gsm.  It is a sanded paper and feels quite coarse. Much grittier than other sanded papers.  I was afraid it would eat up my pastels but it really didn't.   I began with a light charcoal drawing and block in with soft pastels.  Since the paper was so rough my first layer wasn't covering the surface.

light charcoal drawing
I decided to rub in my first layer using a piece of pipe insulation foam.  That made a huge difference! Once I had pushed some pastel into the crevices of the surface the following layers went on like butter. But butter with a twist.  Instead of being smooth and flat, the layers had a feeling of texture due to the paper's texture. Look closely at the finished painting (at the top of page) to see this texture.

In areas that I didn't want the texture I used a finger to lightly smooth the pastel....not something I do very often but in this case it worked to give some contrast to the textured areas.
Below is a photo of the blended first layer.

Blended block in layer
Overall I decided that I enjoyed working on this paper. I didn't mind the toothiness of the paper. Dakota Pastels calls it an aggressive pastel surface and that is a good way to describe it.  I didn't feel I had to be careful with it. I felt like I could get a lot more layers if I wanted. The paper also accepts wet underpainting so I will have to give that a try.  This is not a wimpy surface and given the right mood and subject I will definitely use it again!
Purchase Richeson Pastel Paper at Dakota Art Pastels

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Love this painting, its light and texture are gorgeous. Those rich evening blues and warm street lights ar eso lively. Well done! Thanks for showing all the stages.

Wallis was always the one that stumped me like that, so toothy I cold not finger smudge at all. Still lots of fun when I'm layering!