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Friday, January 22, 2016

Try Something Different for Pastel Underpaintings

'Simple Pleasures'         8x10       pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
 I met an artist with a fantastic goal. He'd made a list of every medium. He was going down the list creating a piece of art in each medium. I love this idea but it got me thinking. How many different mediums can we use for underpaintings for pastels? Most of us are familiar with the usual underpainting choices....watercolor and alcohol and pastel. But we have so many other options.

I love to experiment so when I am restocking my supplies I always look for something new to try for underpaintings. My latest purchase were some Intense Blocks by Derwent. Intense products are not new but I have not yet used them for underpaintings so I purchased three blocks to give them a try.

Derwent Inktense Blocks
 They are called Intense Blocks although they are the same size and shape as NuPastels. They come in pencil form or sticks in 72 colors. Here is some information from Derwent:

Watercolour Inktense blocks combine the brilliant colours of Inktense pencils with the freedom of blocks making it easy to cover large areas really quickly. You can use these watercolour blocks dry or add water to create deep, intense colour washes. Once dry Inktense becomes permanent and you can work over the top of it so it great for layering and for use on silk and cotton!

Experimenting with three sticks and some water
I selected three darks...purple, blue and black. In a previous experiment I tried black Sharpie marker for value based underpaintings. I loved the effect but I wanted something archival. I wanted to try ink but then found these Intense sticks. They would be easier to use and more portable!

I tried the three colors  on a piece of Uart paper. I liked the richness of the ink once it was wet. Pressing harder created darker values.  Adding more water created lighter value washes.
I used a brush and water to create the ink washes. I also went back into the wet washed with the sticks to create lines. I liked the effect of the wash and I even got a few interesting drips!

The underpainting with the Intense wash

The key to any underpainting is how well the pastel can be layered on top. I found the inktense blocks did not fill the tooth of my sanded paper so I was able to paint without any noticeable change in paper texture. I got plenty of layers and even was able to brush out and repaint the foreground.(another story!)

I am intrigued by the possibilities of the Intense blocks and I will definitely try some of the other colors. I can see using them instead of hard pastels and water or alcohol wash. 

If you are also intrigued check out this Pinterest page devoted to the Intense products. There are many possibilities!

I used Richard McKinley's set of Terry Ludwig pastels exclusively for this painting.
I am making a list of media we can use for pastel underpaintings. Help me and share your ideas in the comments. 


susan putnam- jensen said...

Neat idea. i will have to try them thanks.

Adriana Guidi said...

Hi Karen,great post! I bought these Intense pencils a little while back not really sure how I would use them...bright shiny new things..lol I thought I would use them with my watercolor paints,but I love your underpainting idea! Thanks for the post!

robertsloan2art said...

Great post! I think anything that can be thinned to ink consistency would work on Uart. Gouache would work. Watersoluble art crayons like Caran d'Ache Neocolor II would work a bit like gouache, the white and light colors come up opaque so you can do a value underpainting on a black or dark paper like Colourfix.

Smiling at how you used Inktense Blocks. The pencils would work too and so would any watersoluble pencils. I might hesitate to use Graphitint or washable graphite due to the way graphite tends to get slippery and change things that go over it.

Now you've got me looking forward to getting out the Inktense Blocks again. I had a set of 24 of them but it's up in the attic storage, one more thing to play with when my house is built.

Catherine Selinger said...

Hi Karen! Have you tried Pan Pastels for underpaintings yet?
I tried them with those large soft sponges hoping to quickly block in large areas with pastel. My goal was to try to SAVE on using up my regular, and more expensive, pastel sticks! (Living in Canada the great ones are more of a hassle to acquire.) Since I don't have each and every colour in the Pan Pastel range, I thought it would be a good idea to use them up. (Plus I haven't got what it takes to do an entire painting with them and don't really want to anyway.)
I ended up surprised that the pan pastel pigment does not seem to clog up the tooth on my Uart paper the way regular pastels do. (Uart was the only paper I have tried.) The result was that the pigment 'stayed put' and my other pastels worked very nicely over top. More experimentation is in order as I haven't tried wetting the Pan Pastel pigment, then letting it dry, before continuing with the regulars. I have heard somewhere that Pan Pastels have less binder and more pigment, minimizing dust and crumbling compared to the regular rolled sticks. Could that also be the reason why the sandpaper did not clog up as much?
It would be great if your article touched on the Pan Pastel product that I believe was initially developed for underpaintings.
Thank you for everything... all the time! :)

AlyP said...

Hi Karen, after more than 2 decades, I'm returning to art and specifically, pastels. I have been avidly reading your blogs and viewing your vlogs and love how you explain things and express yourself.

I saw a vlog not too long ago where you used the Derwent inktense blocks, loved what you did with them, but then couldn't remember what you called them. Then eureka(!) found this blog!

In this blog you stated you used water. Would alcohol create a problem? I like alcohol because it is FAST drying and I want to get to work.

I also enjoy and often work on UART paper and love how it responds to an alcohol wash. I'm thinking for night scenes, I could use an Derwent block to pre-darken the paper entirely. Would you agree?

Karen said...

Thanks for commenting! I have used alcohol as well with no problems! Have fun exploring!!

Unknown said...

Ah hah! Thank you so much for this blog! You answered my question about the use of alcohol versus water, thanks Karen, you are an inspiration to us all.