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Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Joy of Painting on Black Paper!

                    'Among the Aspens'                12x9             pastel            ©Karen Margulis.   $275

It has been a challenging week in the studio. A big part of my day is spent on my computer and that faithful friend went on the fritz this week. I am not very tech savvy but nothing I tried was working. I was in a catch 22 (long story) In the end I did a factory reset and reinstalled the operating system. Fortunately I had a backup of my files! I have my fingers crossed that this is the fix and all will be well. So this week I spent very little time at the easel but I did manage to sneak a painting in for my sanity!

 I selected one of my aspen photos. I wanted them to to appear as luminous and vibrant as they did in real life. I had the answer in my paper paper. I pulled out a piece of Uart Dark 600 which was the perfect choice. Why paint on dark paper? Here are a couple of reasons I have shared before but are worth revisiting:

  •  VIBRANCY. Look at how bright and intense the pastels in the above painting appear on a black surface.  Pastels glow and come to life on a dark surface. Because the paper is black or dark....the lights and brights appear even lighter and brighter than they would on a lighter surface. (simultaneous contrast at work) 
  • TIP: When choosing a subject to paint on black choose something that will exploit the ability of the dark paper to make light and bright colors pop. Subjects such as flowers are wonderful candidates for black paper. 

  • CONTRAST: Black or dark paper can lead to stronger paintings. The dark tone provides the glue that holds everything together. It provides the much needed contrast with the middle and light values. If handled well the back paper can help unify shapes and prevent spottiness. I like to block in a painting with simple shapes of 2-4 values. These big areas of light and dark form the foundation for the detail and colors to follow. Working on a dark paper ensures that my darks are strong enough. (often we are afraid of pushing the darks too far and we end up with disjointed and weak paintings)
  • TIP: The Uart dark paper is dark but there are some pastels, notably the Terry Ludwig eggplant which is actually darker than the paper. I like to use these 'super darks' with restraint as accents. This makes the dark paper a perfect overall dark allowing my accents to pop!

If you'd like to learn more about Uart Dark check out my complete review here:

Here is a photo of the initial block in using a variety of soft pastels: Unison light and shadow set


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