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Monday, December 14, 2015

How to Paint Large on a Budget

'It's a Blue Sky Day'          18x24           pastel            ©Karen Margulis
available $500
I've been painting larger lately. I used to paint small daily paintings that were no larger than 8x10. But I have discovered that I love the freedom that larger paper allows. But large paintings come with a price.  Everything about them is more expensive....the paper or support, the cost of pastel usage, the framing cost. They are also more challenging to store and if space is at a premium it is even a challenge to have the room to accommodate them on an easel!

I don't have a problem with space. I have plenty of space in my newly organized studio. (I will be taking you on a tour soon....just a few more finishing touches). But cost is always something I consider. I don't cut corners but do enjoy saving a few dollars. Here are some things I am doing to keep my costs down for my larger paintings.

The pink sky and ground is hard pastel with an alcohol wash 

  • I buy my paper in bulk. As much as I'd like to support our local art vendors I prefer to order my paper online. I wait for a sale or coupon code and stock up. I just got a great Black Friday deal on Uart paper with my 30% coupon. I buy 18x24 sheets and cut them to size if I want smaller pieces. I did but a roll of Uart once but I save it for really large paintings.
  • I have made my own large supports with Gatorboard and my own pumice and gesso mix.
  • I don't mount my paper usually so that saves money. There are ways to mount paper on your own with adhesive sprays or mounting boards such as Crescent perfect mount.
  • I use foamcore as a support for my paper. I tape my paper to the foamcore while I paint. To save money I buy my foamcore at the Dollar Tree. It isn't archival but it does the job for a dollar. I only use archival foamcore for framing.
  • I ALWAYS do an underpainting on a large pastel. Usually I will do a wet underpainting of some kind....watercolor, alcohol wash with pastel,oil stain. These wet underpaintings are like cheating! The paper is covered sparing the use of precious pastels for a block in. This allows me to save my good pastels for the top layers of the painting.
  • I save my softest pastels (most expensive)for the finishing touches only. 
  • I ALWAYS do a small 2.5 x 3.5 study to try out my color palette. It is much easier to make changes in the study than on a big painting (wasting pastel!)

Starting to add pastel over the underpainting

the small color study 2.5 x 3.5 
 If you are in the Atlanta area and want to learn more about the magic and mystery of the underpainting consider my one day workshop on Sunday January 24.

In case you missed it (not sure my photos appeared in the email version of my blog yesterday) If you purchase a painting from my etsy shop from now until Christmas I will give you one of the paintings I uncovered in my studio clean up.  Buy one...get one.

  • Purchase a painting 5x7 or smaller  and you will receive a mystery 5x7 original pastel.
  • Purchase a painting 8x10 or larger and you will receive a mystery 8x10 original pastel.
  • Painting will be a mystery....grab bag....you can request flower, landscape or still life.
  • No coupon code needed...just purchase a painting and you will receive another one free. (pdf lessons not included in giveaway)

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Great article and such perfect timing! I'm about to have a real studio as soon as the power gets turned on at my new house. Plenty of room for big projects and daring to use the full sheet!

I've got an 18" x 24" pad of Bee Bogus Recycled Rough paper that has a wonderful surface for unsanded paper, but isn't archival. It's good for sketching.

Canson Mi-Tientes isn't that expensive either and I may use it for some of my big paintings, taped to foam boards or clipped on a big sketchboard.

If you love painting large and like hand rolled pastels, Mount Vision is great bang for the buck. The sticks are so gigantic they need to break to thirds or quarters, so those are good workhorse pastels for large scale pastel painters. They come in sets and there's a price knockdown for sets to start out. I got 25 Chromatic colors and love them, will be adding some tints and shades to that lineup. If it does get practical to paint large all the tme I'll probably get more.

Last - of course watch out for used sets on eBay, you can get huge bargains on pastels sold by someone leaving the medium. Mixed boxes can sometimes come in good pastels storage cases too, already broken and sorted by hue and value. Mystery bags can contain very expensive pastels at a lower aggregate price in such a box.