|'The Proposal' 11x14 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
I had one of those great Aha Moments last week. It is something very simple and I don't know why it wasn't obvious to me before. There is an easy way to help avoid the dreaded Overworked Pastel Painting. It is something I do all of the time but I just put it all together!
An overworked painting happens for many reasons but one of the most common reasons is the result of adding too many layers of pastel. Our wonderful sanded papers accept so many layers of pastel so we are tempted to keep on layering the color. But the more layers we add the more we risk filling the tooth of the paper. As the tooth is filled the layers begin to physically blend. This often leads to dull muddy looking color.
I find that fewer layers result in fresher and more vibrant colors. Limiting my layers, having economy with my marks...saying it and leaving it alone. These are all things I try to do with each painting. Here is a way to make this easier to achieve:
|The block in layer on Uart paper|
|The block in layer now rubbed in for the dry wash|
Start with a toned piece of paper or some kind of underpainting!
Think about it....if you start with white or very light colored paper such as Uart this light color will tend to peek through your pastel layers. This is great if you are painting snow or sand or something very light. But if you are trying to get nice cohesive darks or solid areas of color these little white specks can drive you crazy. It leads to a heavier hand or adding more and more layers until the offensive spots are covered. By the time they are covered....the painting may just have too many layers and can start to look overworked.
Solution: Start with colored supports. I choose colors that I know will work well with my painting. I loved Wallis Belgian Mist because the nice middle value gray-brown was a wonderful unifier of any painting when bits of paper peeked through.
What if you love white or light papers? Consider toning it. One of my favorite techniques is the dry wash with a light layer of pastel that I rub into the paper with pipe insulation foam. It allows me to tone my paper and set up my value map all at the same time! Now I don't have to add layer upon layer to cover up the paper!