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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Using a Palette Knife with Pastels

'Mountain Magic'         18x24         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $375
 I sometimes crave it. I do what I can to achieve it. Texture. It comes so easily with oil and acrylic paint. It is harder to get the same effect with pastel. There is a trade off of course. Pastel excels at pure luminosity. But sometimes I want more texture in my pastel paintings. So I have to get creative.

Today I was craving some texture in the foreground of my painting when I spotted my old palette knife on the shelf. How could I use a palette knife with pastels?

Using a palette knife
I was working on an older painting that I uncovered in my archives. It actually was one of the demos I did at the last IAPS convention. Since I am in full on wildflower mode I thought it would be fun to add the finishing touches to the demo.

  • I already had quite a few layers of pastel in the foreground grassy areas of the painting. I took the palette knife and I scratched through these layers revealing the dark underpainting. I kept scratching using windswept strokes. My goal was to suggest movement of the grasses.
  • The next step was to use a bit of workable fixative and then to go over the grass with another layer of green pastel. The pastel didn't go into the grooves created by the palette knife which created real texture! Ahhhh I had some texture in the grass with a simple tool....the palette knife!

Close up of the texture in the grass. Click to enlarge
 There are other ways to create texture with pastels. You can make a textured support using a variety of materials such as pumice and gesso and pastel grounds by Golden and others. Do you have any technique for creating texture with pastels? I'd love to hear about them!

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