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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Try This: An Interesting Technique for Painting Grass with Pastels

'Hidden Marsh'      12 x 18        pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available $165
It was all about the texture. One of my favorite things about my foray into the world of oils was the ease of creating texture. I crave texture in my pastel paintings. I do what I can to give the illusion of texture. Building layers of increasingly soft pastel and working on a prepared textured surface are just two ways.  But what about on regular sanded paper such as Uart?  Sometimes I want more physical texture!

Yesterday I was doing laundry when something on the shelf caught my eye. It was a tube of Gel n Dry medium from Sennelier.  Bill Creevy used it during his IAPS workshop several years ago. I bought a tube but never used it much. It was time to take it out and see what would happen!

Unfinished demo that needs help

I had the perfect candidate for the experiment. It was an unfinished demo from my Chicago Uart workshop. It was a quick demo to illustrate the effect of underpainting colors. It had decent bones but needed help. It needed texture in the marsh grasses!

Giving Sennelier Gel n Dry Medium a try
 I squeezed out some of the Gel n Dry into a container and with an old bristle brush applied the medium to the foreground grassy areas.  It wet the pastel and made it much darker and richer.  I brushed the medium on with random brushstroke. The soft pastel became like paint. I then used the end of the brush handle to draw lines into the wet pastel. I could see the brush handle cut through the pastel leaving tracks. I was getting physical texture!

After the Gel n Dry

I let the painting dry overnight. I am not sure how long it actually took to dry but it was at least 3 hours so this is not a quick technique. It was nice and dry in the morning and my unmounted Uart paper was perfectly flat. The wet medium had no effect on the paper which is good to know.

I reworked the painting adding layers of green and peach pastel over the grassy areas. I was excited to see the pastel stick to the raised areas leaving the dark values in place. I had raised pieces of grass courtesy of Gel n Dry. Cool!

Pastel on top of the grooves left by the Gel n Dry medium

more textured grass


Nini and the Sea said...

Thank you for all your info recently, I have learned a lot of great techniques to try! Your generosity with your knowledge is appreciated.


Catherine Selinger said...

What an interesting idea Karen! I have never heard of that before. But I am curious. Does that medium act like a workable fixative? By that I mean, once applied and dry, along with the resultant texture, does it serve to 'fix' those bottom layers? Your result looks glorious with lots of bits of interesting texture. I think this medium would also be very useful on large paintings keeping it's use to certain areas. Also on abstracts! :)