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Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Beauty of a Hand Made Pastel Surface

'Summer on the Island'               16x20             pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available $450
 I don't know why I don't do this more often. Making my own pastel surface is not only cost effective it is very satisfying. And even more importantly the results can be wonderful! I am giving myself a painting play day once a week and for this play painting I decided to make my own surface using regular printmaking paper and clear gesso. That's all! I loved the result and I enjoyed working on the paper which had a satisfying softness with just the right touch of grittiness. Read on for the process and the supplies needed.

My Supplies

  • Arches 88 Printmaking paper. I also like Rives BFK printmaking paper
  • Liquitex Clear gesso
  • Inexpensive paint brush
  • Art Graf pigment squares, earth colors
  • Terry Ludwig pastels
  • Assorted Nupastels

The Process

  • I cut a piece of the printmaking paper to size 16x20. I used the paint brush to apply a coat of clear gesso. I use random brush strokes but you can apply it with a roller sponge to get a smooth coat. I wanted the random texture. Clear gesso has a bit of grittiness which is just enough to give the paper tooth for pastels. 
  • I did a light pencil drawing on the dry paper. I then blocked in the big shapes with the Art Graf squares. You only need a light application of the Art Graf. A little goes a long way.
  • I washed in the Art Graf with a brush and water. I also used the squares to draw back into the wet underpainting. I made sure to stretch the paper and retape as the paper dried. This kept the paper from buckling. 
  • When the underpainting was dry I started to apply my pastels. My goal was to exploit the texture and to use a light touch through the painting process. 

The first layer of Art Graf before washing with water

The photo below shows the finished underpainting. Look carefully to see the texture. 

Starting the pastel application. I began with the house so that I could hide it in the weeds!

A closer look at the texture of the paper

I hope you enjoyed a look at my process. If you look carefully at my painting you might discover some hidden friends! If you want to learn more about the various pastel papers we have to work with check out my Patreon Page in July. We are exploring paper all month!

1 comment:

Jennifer Welch said...

Beautiful painting! Even the finished underpainting is gorgeously evocative.