2018 Workshop Schedule. New workshops added! click here for details.
Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Fun....Let's Break the Rules!

'All Paths Lead to the Sea'             11x14         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $195
OK. So it's not really a rule. It's more like a recommendation. It is also a personal preference. But I have always been told NOT to do it. Blending pastels can be a polarizing issue. Should we blend or should we keep our fingers and tools away from the pastels? 

The first workshop I ever took was with Albert Handell. I know...you could say I was baptized by fire.  I was very new to pastel and I will never forget Albert admonishing us..."Touch it Not!"  I learned to let the pastels do the blending and never blend with my fingers or tools.  Over the years I've relaxed and will blend the first layer and occasional a sky or use a finger to soften an edge. But I still never do much more than that.  

It was time to try breaking my own self imposed rule and blend away! By the way there are some very good reasons to avoid too much blending and I will address them in another post. But this weekend let's have some fun and blend our pastels!

Some blending tools...pipe insulation foam, foamcore, viva paper towel, rag
 Today's painting involved a lot of blending. I used my palm and some tools to blend. I began by blending the first layer and softly blended each subsequent layer. I was trying to get a soft and dreamy look to my painting. In tomorrow's post I will show you the tools in more detail. Below you can see the progress shots.

Blocking in the first layer on Canson Mi-Teintes moonstone
 I decided to work on Canson Mi-Teintes paper in the Moonstone color. I knew the unsanded paper would be easier on my fingers than sanded paper. I blocked in the painting with soft pastels (Terry Ludwig) The used a piece of pipe insulation foam to blend in the first layer.

Nicely blended

Next I worked on the sky. I blended it several times to get the sky clam and the clouds wispy.

Start with the sky
As the painting developed I added layers of gold and green rubbing in each layer until I got to the finishing marks. I couldn't resist adding a few grass marks on top of the blended areas. I am going to try another painting that I leave completely blended and see how I like it. It's all about trying new things and having fun!

Almost there!

Finished....then made corrections to the foreground grasses
YOUR TURN!  If you are not usually much of a blender you have permission this weekend to break your rule and blend away!  If you do a lot of blending try NOT blending to see what happens. :)


Kevin Q said...

I'm a "serial blender" doing my best to stay away from it - mostly tempted to blend my skies!

Sandi G said...

I love to blend! Many years ago my first teacher was a portrait artist (actually made her living in family portraits) she taught me how to blend almost like when you work in oils and carefully blend several brush strokes together. I think blending has its purpose in certain subjects or areas of a painting! So I do....here and there ! Freely and Happily! Lol

MaryB said...

Thanks for this post, Karen. I feel like such an outcast because I like the look of blended areas, especially for skies & for portraits. Still, I'm trying to break the habit & trust that strokes will "blend" once I step back from my work. I want to be able to use both methods.

Linda Kriegel said...

I confess! I'm a blender! I started painting portraits about 20 years ago and loved blending skin tones. I've moved away from that in the last year or so after following you and am becoming much freer in my style. Thank you Karen! Also, I bought my first set of Terry Ludwig landscape pastels. Can't wait for them to arrive. Will try Canson paper with them! Thanks again for your blog and YouTube videos!