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Saturday, December 15, 2018

How to Tone Your Pastel Paper the Cheap Way


'Cardinals of Winnemac Park'            8x10         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available in my Etsy shop click here $150

I knew I wanted to use some neutrals for this winter landscape. I love using those dull mousey 'uglies'! They have a subtle and quiet beauty. They are the colors I use in my family room and bedroom.  I get excited when I find a reference that requires the use of a lot of my neutrals!

The subject of this painting is a Chicago city park near my son & family. I love this park because it has a naturalized prairie area. It is beautiful in all seasons but I especially love it in winter. I knew I would be using many neutrals so I decided to tone the paper with a dull mousey gray to give my painting a head start and to cover up the light tone of the Uart paper.

As I prepared for the painting and pondered how I would tone the the paper an idea came to me. Why not use the pastel dust in my gutter tray from my last painting instead of throwing it out. The dust was a nice blue- gray with bits of red violet. It would make a perfect middle value gray tone.

I use a gutter of scored coated foamcore to catch my pastel dust

I took out a piece of pipe foam and dipped it in the dust and then rubbed it onto the paper. I continued until the paper was covered.  Then I took an old paint brush and some rubbing alcohol to liquify the pastel to mix the dust even more. You can see the result below. I now had an interesting blend of grays to start my moody winter scene! It was a quick and easy way to tone my paper. And cheap! I made use of the precious pastel dust rather than throwing it out.

Note: Many artists save their dust my emptying their dust trays into a jar. The dust can be made into a neutral pastel by mixing it with some distilled water until it forms a paste which can be shaped into a pastel.

This is the toned paper....uart with an alcohol wash using collected pastel dust

Some of the neutrals I used for this painting

Do you see the little surprises?


2 comments:

Wendy said...

That's amazing, Karen! I never would have thought of doing that. I have a tray full of pastel dust and can't wait to try it!

Lynnette Brown said...

I love saving the dust to make a stick because the shades of neutral they make are never the same. Thanks for the great "tray" idea with foamcore! I'm going to try it next time! I really like the painting in this demo!