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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Revisiting Diane Townsend Metallic Pastels

'Magic at the Ranch'        12 x 12      pastel        ©Karen Margulis
Are you looking to spice up your pastel paintings? There is nothing like a little sparkle to to spice up an otherwise dull painting.  Metallic, iridescent, pearlescent are the names given to these pastels. It depends on the manufacturer.  I recently rediscovered my set of Diane Townsend Metallic soft form pastels. I say rediscovered because they were lost in my studio and found during my studio clean up.

I haven't used these pastels in awhile but decided to use them for an experimental underpainting. I had an old unfinished painting from a trip to Grand Teton National Park. I had done a gouache underpainting. I added a layer of metallic pastels and sprayed some workable fixative.

close up of the metallic pastel layer
I worked some Terry Ludwig pastels over the metallic layer and the result is a subtle glow which was hard to capture in a photo. I then remembered some other experiments I did with the metallic and water. I will have to try more of these!

'Golden Dreams'      5x7     pastel         ©Karen Margulis 

The painting 'Golden Dreams' was done completely with the set of metallic pastels. I put down a layer of several of the colors and sprayed the painting with water.  I was curious to see how the metallic pigment would react to the water.  I wasn't disappointed.  Some of the colors rose to the top of the puddles and swirled like an oil slick. I tilted the board slightly and let some of the wet pastel drip. I let it dry.  You can see the sparkle of the gold and copper pastels.  

Diane Townsend Metallic set of 12 pastels

  • I LOVE Diane Townsend pastels Her soft form pastels are some of my favorites. These metallics are no exception. They are so rich and beautiful.
  • The metallic pastels are extremely soft and buttery. They go on like velvet. You need to use an VERY light touch. A little bit goes a long way. They are so soft that they crumble easily. (see photo) If you press down too hard they crumble right in your hand. Of course I am saving all of the pieces to reconstitute someday.
  • I now know to use a very light touch but for the pastels that have already crumbled I will use them in other ways....sprinkle dust, apply with soft tools like pan pastels....No pastel dust will go to waste!
  • I love the rich metallic colors and will try to use them as spices or accents in a painting rather than for the entire painting.
  • I haven't tried to use them for an underpainting with an alcohol wash but since it just occurred to be I will have to try and report back!
Do you like to use metallic or iridescent pastels? Do you have a favorite way of using them? I'd love to hear from you!


Becky Chappell said...

I've not tried metallic pastels, although they're on my list! Very cool painting!!

ChrisD said...

Metallic pastels seem a bit scarce in Britain....I've got a stick of copper and a blue-metallic from the Sennelier range but theirs is all I can find over here. I've been painting white Art Spectrum Colorfix paper with metallic acrylics; that's the nearest I can get to the effect. I do like the idea of including a touch of metallic pastel, specially in foliage and plants; adds a lovely extra dimension.

Kendall Kessler said...

Beautiful! Love the textures!

robertsloan2art said...

Beautiful demo. I love metallic pastels and would like to get some more, been tempted by the Sennelier set of metallics. I'd like to find cool colors in metallics, blues and violets and greens. That shimmer is a lot of fun. I have metallic and iridescent Pan Pastels to work with too along with Roche' pieces.

Pat's Place said...

Delightful! Hadn't heard of metallic pastels, although I have them in watercolors and some acrylic paints. They ought to be lots of fun. Must try them.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I painted a Chinese Mandarin Fish with metallic Sennelier pastels! It glows!!

Alejandra Gos said...

I did an alcohol wash with the copper color. I think it will require to be sprayed a lot before I can layer other pastel on it. I touched the washed surface and a lot of sparkling dust comes right off :(