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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Painting on Wet Paper...An Experiment

'It Was Just a Dream'         9x11         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $145
The package said waterproof sandpaper. I was intrigued. And it was black. Even more intriguing. I wonder what would happen if I used it for pastels? It was wet sanding sandpaper so it wouldn't be archival but it would be fun to play with.

I decided to make the most of the waterproof quality of the paper and wet the paper before I started to paint. I once had an Russian artist come to my studio for a lesson and she always painted on wet paper. In fact she seemed surprised that I didn't wet my paper before applying pastel!

I taped the paper to my coated foamcore board and sprayed it until it was quite wet. Next I used a Nupastel to draw the big shapes of my scene. The pastel just melted on the wet surface. It felt wonderful!

I then took out my softer pastels.They too melted and became paint as they glided across the wet surface. I loved the first pass with pastels but I found that I wasn't able to layer the same way as when the paper was dry. The wet pastel layers were actually mixing together and making mud. I kept spraying the paper and letting areas drip and mix even further.

I felt like a kid discovering paint for the first time! I couldn't stop adding pastel even though I was making a muddy mess. The feeling of the thickness of the wet pastel was wonderful. Surprisingly painting on the wet paper didn't really use up much of the pastel stick. After awhile though I had to admit defeat. The experiment was not a success. I had gone too far.

The painting was still wet so before heading upstairs for lunch I took out a piece of pipe foam insulation and smooshed the pastel around. I left a vague impression of my river and trees. I then took out a metal banker's clip and scraped through the pastels. The scrap marks left some interesting linear marks. Still a mess but I had fun.

I came back down to the studio after lunch and the pastel was dry. I decided to finish the experiment and add some pastel on the dried surface. A curious and wonderful thing happened. All of the dried pastel had created raised areas. The texture of the paper itself was also evident. When I scumbled some pastel on top of this newly textured surface the results were unexpected and interesting. I love experiments!

close up detail


Tomíno Valík said...

Wonderful technique, Karen. I wanted to try it someday too. It looks like a fun process. I also want to try out putting the pastel into water like a brush and see what it makes.
Thank you for inspiring :)

KAS said...

The reflections came out great in this experiment! Also, I have been going back and reading your blog from the beginning, and your enthusiasm for the medium of pastels is just as fresh and strong as it was back then! Thank you for sharing your insights and beautiful work with all of us!