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Monday, September 02, 2019

How to Get Very Chunky Pastel Marks

'Lost in the Tangle'             8x10             pastel                 ©Karen Margulis    
available $165     
 This painting called for chunky marks. I am working on a variety of wildflower paintings as part of my Labor Day Paint-a-thon.  I selected a photo I took several years ago on Nantucket Island. It is a close up of a tangle of weeds and wildflowers. I loved the wild abandon of the place and I wanted to capture that feeling in my painting.

I began with a textured surface. That would help me achieve automatic texture and depth. I coated a piece of Multimedia Artboard with a pumice and gesso mix that I had toned a neutral gray-brown.
Part of the challenge of working on a highly textured surface is getting the pastel to cover the texture. If you press too hard you use up a lot of expensive pastel. It is cringe-worthy sometimes.  One thing you can do is rub in the first layer which helps fill in some of the ridges. But in the case of this painting I wanted to preserve the dark underpainting as my 'dirt' layer. So instead I took out my collection of Diane Townsend Terrage pastels. They are chunky rectangular shaped pastels made with pumice. They are wonderful! I don't have many but I had enough greens for this painting.

The shape and consistency of these pastels allowed me to make thick and chunky marks as well as light coverage. It was the perfect combination. They are soft pastels but not so soft that they crumble when pressed into the paper. Have a look at more information from the Dakota Pastels website:


Origin: USA
Colors: 190
Size: 1/2"x 1"x1 3/4''
Terrages is a combination of the words terra (for earth) and gesture. The size, shape and consistency of the stick make them great for bold gesture strokes, but also responsive to a light touch. The Terrages are made with a mixture of traditional pigments and pumice resulting in colors that are very clean, not grey and chalky. Dark tones are particularly deep and clear. Terrages are very smooth in application; they don't feel extra gritty and don't get used up faster on coated papers. When working on a non-sanded surface the pumice 'opens' the surface of the paper aiding pigment bonding while also adding tooth for subsequent layering. Traditional pastels layer very well over the Terrages. Terrages are handmade and produced in very small batches; this along with changes in raw pigments does lead to some variation in colors.
This painting called for the Terrages!

An alcohol wash underpainting on a piece of Multimedia Artboard coated with gesso and pumice
In the end I used a variety of Terrages along with some Nupastels for grassy detail. I also used a steel pin to scrape away areas for even more texture. This was a fun painitng! Now onto the next one!

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