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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Simple Way to Start a Pastel Painting

'California Dream'           9x12        pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $155
Options are great. We have many options for starting a pastel painting. We have many different types of papers and supports and colors. We can use pastel or most other media to start a painting. We can do a wet or dry underpainting. We have unlimited color choices at our disposal. Great isn't it?  Sometimes it isn't so great. Sometimes it can be downright confusing and daunting. How can we begin a painting without being overwhelmed by the choices? It is a challenge.

When I am in doubt I go back to my roots. I return to a very simple way to start a pastel painting. When I really want to make things simple I even choose the same middle value gray Canson Mi-Teintes paper. You can't go wrong with it.

It only takes four simple steps to start a painting that has good bones....a block-in that gives you all the information you need to build a successful painting. I demonstrate these four steps below:


STEP ONE:  I loosely draw the main shapes on my paper with a hard pastel. I then block in all of the DARK SHAPES with a dark value pastel. Sometimes I will use a couple of different colors that are the same value. In this scene I created a dark shape under the flowers to hold them in place. This is my dirt.


STEP TWO: Next I block in all of the LIGHT SHAPES. I will use either hard or softer pastels for the block-in. When I use softer pastel I make sure to use a lighter touch so I don't fill in the tooth of the paper. In this scene the sky and the flowers are the lighest shapes.


STEP THREE: Next I block in the shapes that will be the most INTENSE COLOR.  In this scene some of the flowers are a bright lime green so I block them in at this stage.


STEP FOUR:  The final step of the block-in is to cover the remaining areas with color of a middle value. The goal is to have a layer of pastel over the entire piece of paper. In this scene I used a middle value blue violet and gray violet to cover the remaining areas of the painting.

That's it! I am now ready to continue building the painting, adding layers of color and detail. What I just did was establish the boundaries of my scene. I know what the darkest dark will be as well as the lightest light and most intense color. It gives me a good framework to build upon. Simple and effective!

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