|'Journey's End' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
It is elusive....that wonderful peek of watercolor under a thin veil of pastel. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes it doesn't go as planned. But I remind myself that the creation of a watercolor underpainting will influence the direction of my painting even if I completely cover it with pastel.
Still, that thought doesn't stop me from trying! I always approach a watercolor underpainting with the intent to allow a lot of it to show through the pastel layers. I want the wonderful drips, blooms and mingling of the paint to do much of the work. But once I start layering pastel I often go farther than I wanted. Many a painting gets completely covered with pastel much to my dissappointment. How much pastel is too much? It is a personal preference. I love the contrast between the transparent watercolor and the opaque pastel so I want some of the watercolor to show. I've discovered some tips....
It is all about restraint. Work slowly and deliberately. Think about every pastel mark.
Here are some things I do to help me preserve the underpainting:
- After the watercolor is dry I spend a few minutes evaluating it. Is there any area I love and want to be sure to save? Do I like the colors? Make note of these areas.
- When I am ready to add pastel I begin by choosing colors and values that closely match the underpainting. I apply a VERY light layer so that I can hardly see the pastel. I will change color and value very gradually....small areas with a light touch.
- If I like the passage with this thin veil of pastel I will leave it and move on. In this way I don't get too heavy too quickly. I remind myself that it is OK to let the paper/underpainting show.
- I find I most often overwork the pastel application when I get too thick too fast. I then feel the need to keep adding heavier layers all over the painting. When I keep a light touch and work slowly I have more success.
Today's painting was inspired by my recent cruise to Alaska. I used a watercolor underpainting on an 8x10 piece of mounted vintage white Wallis paper.