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Thursday, May 08, 2014

An Easy Way to Create Texture with Pastels

'Beyond the Tall Grass'              18x24           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $350
Imagine you are an insect.  You are clinging to a blade of tall grass peeking through many layers of grasses into the distant marsh. You are surrounded by a tangle of weeds and grasses of all sorts. It is rich and colorful. The view beyond the tall grass is expansive but you are content to sway in the breeze and enjoy the view.

That was my concept for this painting. I needed to find a way to create the tangle of grasses with pastels. It called for some texture. Yes I could suggest texture through the linear marks of my pastel strokes. But I wanted physical texture...impasto. I wanted a thick build up of pastel.  It was time to experiment.

4x4 plein air study
I wasn't satisfied with my initial attempt at the grasses. They were not dimensional enough.

  • I decided I would use clear gesso and a stiff brush to paint over the grassy foreground. (see photo below)
  • I let it dry and then went back over the area with the side of my pastel letting it glide over the nooks and crannies left by the brushmarks and gesso. 
  • I repeated this several times until I got the textural quality I wanted.
This worked well for me but on the same day I was working on this painting, Richard McKinley's Pastel Pointer blog addressed this very topic of creating impasto texture with pastels. I will be trying his techniques soon!  Here is a link to Richard's post on impasto.

applying clear gesso to the foreground 

close up of the texture in the foreground
I used clear gesso which has a bit of grittiness to it. You could also experiment with pastel grounds or for even more fun try any of the acrylic grounds by Golden. There is no limit to the fun you can have!


David Greer said...

Great tip! Discouraged with the green curtains that I consistently hang in the foreground, I resort to the tip of the pastel, which just makes things worse. This idea is definitely going into my mental toolbox; I just hope I can find it again when I need it!

Sandi G said...

Love the idea , have tried with rock shapes by cross hatching large lines where I planned a rock to be . After reading an article in pastel journal used golden ground in the creation of The Matterhorn painting I did after a trip to Switzerland .
For a canvas / acrylic painting, my paint group experimented with spackle , paint on first with a pallet knife.
Textures are wonderful and thanks for all of your tips !