|'California Dream' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
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!