Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Magic of a Dry Underpainting for Pastels

'Kindred Souls' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $145
Sometimes I just don't feel like making a mess. Sometimes I want to do an underpainting but I don't want to take out my paints and brushes and I don't want to clean up. Sometimes I am using paper that can't get wet so doing a wet underpainting isn't an option. Yet I still would like to have the benefits of an underpainting. I like having some colors, values and interesting things happening on my paper to respond to. I have found the answer.... I use a DRY WASH.
  • A dry wash is when you put down a layer of pastel and you blend it into the paper creating a toned surface.
  • I choose my colors the same way I would for a wet all depends on my subject. For today's poppies I chose cool grayed colors in the background to set up the feeling of space or aerial perspective. I chose darker warmer greens in the foreground and a darker red for the poppies. I could have chosen all bold colors or maybe complementary colors. See my posts on underpaintings for more information. I used soft pastels and blended them with my favorite blending tool....PIPE INSULATION!
My Favorite Blending Tool....Foam Pipe Insulation

I credit Terry Ludwig for this art tip. He shared it with us at a workshop. I like to say it is the least expensive art supply I buy! You can get a pack of 4 long pieces for about a dollar. I cut them into smaller pieces. They are perfect for the dry wash because they move the pastel around without removing too much pastel as some other blending tools do. I can cut them or tear them to make little brushes and actually 'paint' the dry pigment. I can make marks like foliage or grass for example. The best part is that they don't crumble or disintegrate even when used on sanded papers. So next time you want to set up your painting with a dry wash, save your fingers and use pipe insulation. You will get a very soft and magical underpainting with no mess!

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