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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Secret to Making Fine Lines with Pastels

'Chasing the Desert Sun' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis  sold

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes you need to take something away rather than add some more. And so it is when painting things that have fine lines such as grasses and branches. One of the first things a beginning pastel artist usually wants to know is how to make the fat pastel sticks make delicate fine lines. It actually is possible with the right touch and technique and I will share that in another post. There is another technique for creating fine lines and it involves an aluminum push pin!

The Secret is a Moore's Aluminum Push Pin

I was introduced to this technique by Stan Sperlak, a wonderful artist and instructor. The sharp point of the aluminum pin can be used to scrape away thin areas of pastel. (see photo) The trick is to build up several layers of pastel before you use the pin. It is very much like doing scratch art.
  • You can get dark lines or light lines depending on your color layers.
  • Softer pastels work best.
  • Vary the pressure of the pin to get the most natural look.
  • Use the pin to remove pastel to make sky holes
  • Use the pin to straighten horizons by removing tiny bits of pastel at a time.
Just remember that less is more. Just as drawing too many lines for grasses can make them look overdone, using the 'pin' technique everywhere in a painting can be too much. But it is a nice subtle way to make fine lines when they are needed.
To read more about Stan and my workshop review see my post HERE. You can visit Stan's website HERE.
The Moore's Aluminum Push pins are available at Blick's I get the longest ones.


Cmichaudart said...

well, who knew? heading down now to find my push pins and experiment. thanks a heap for sharing this little secret!

Karen said...

You're welcome! It comes in handy for lots of things. I like to use the pin like an eraser to get thinner areas, sky holes and small dark shadows. Lots of fun!

Sandi Graham Pastels said...

Push pins ...and I use shapers ....which are expensive