|'Hope Springs Eternal' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
We discussed the design of the painting and I choose the colors I would use in the underpainting. I drew my shapes and put down the first layer of pastels. I took out my brush and water and proceeded to demonstrate how I use the water to liquify the pastel. Before I got very far into my explanation she exclaimed "Why would you even bother with the water?" Good question.
|pastel underpainitng that has been wet with a brush and water|
There are so many other ways to start a painting which don't involve the extra time and supplies of a wet underpainitng. Why would we bother doing a wet underpainting? Why not block in the first layer and just keep going? I gave my student the usual responses... wet underpaintings create something interesting to respond to, happy accidents, loosens us up, prevents us from copying our reference.....but then another reason for wetting the pastel occurred to me.
Using a paintbrush! That's right. Using the paintbrush to wet the pastel and turn it into paint is the best thing about wet underpaintings for me. I think of the wet pastel as liquid paint (which it is at this stage) and use the brush to actually paint ... not just to wet down the pastel. I think of my brush strokes and how they could be use to describe my subject. I take time and take care with the underpainting. I enjoy it. I get to know my subject better. It prepares me for the next step of adding pastel.
If I have done a good job with the brush and water then adding the pastel is like icing the cake!
Painting notes: this painting is 9x12 on white Pastelmat with my usual assortment of Terry Ludwig pastels.