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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tips for Painting Sand with Pastels

'Happier Than a Gull with a French Fry'            8x10         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
Since I am in Beach Mode this week I thought I would share some beachy posts from the archives. In one of my class series we spent time on painting the beach. I had two questions that everyone asked:

How do you paint sand that looks granular?  
How do you know what colors to use in the sand? 

There is actually a simple answer to these questions.  With pastels we usually work dark to light. But sand is typically a very light value. 
  • The problem we often have is that we start painting the sand with a color that is close to what we want or the very light local color. Then we end up with a big area of very light value sand color and it looks flat and boring. Remember....dark to light!  
  • So I like to start painting my sandy areas with a darker and more intense color than I really want. I layer the colors getting gradually lighter and brighter. I also sometimes do an underpainting in a brighter bolder color. 
  • Then when layering the pastels I use a very light touch so that the darker layers show through. These darker bits are what gives the granular look to the sand. LIGHT TOUCH is the KEY!I will sometimes use workable fixative to fix the dark layer. This adds to the granular effect.

My Cheat Sheet for Painting Sand

 How about choosing sand colors?  Remember that the colors of the sand will vary greatly from beach to beach depending on the make-up of the sand. Coral based sands can be pink or white, shell based sands can be golden or bleached white. There are grey sands, peach sands even black sand beaches.
Once I decide the color of the sand I choose several values of the color so that I can build up my layers making the rich texture I discussed above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your great tips and useful ideas. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your art. I don't have too much experience using pastels since I have mostly been working with oil paint and watercolor. Pastel work is really beautiful and I hope to be able to work more comfortably in this medium.