21 Apr 2013

Exercises in Pastels

With a window in my commissions I set aside some time to experiment with some landscape painting in pastels. I recently purchased a new book which suggested a few exercises to trial different types of under-painting. Under-painting is not something I’ve done before – I usually get straight on with the detail from the start, as I did for a recent painting of the croft house we live in. I wasn’t entirely happy with it – I felt it was a bit dark and pastels were laid on rather thick. The book suggests working on a scene you had already painted so I selected the croft house. I’ve done 6 of the 9 exercises so far.
white paper
black paper
warm colour paper – like burnt sienna
cool  colour paper– like paynes grey
a notan under-painting
an under-painting in burnt sienna and French ultramarine
an under-painting using the local colour in the scene
an under-painting using the complimentaries to the local colour
an expressive under-painting in whatever colour
I used Art Spectrum paper which has a nice sandy tooth, but I didn’t have any white so I tinted the first sheet with some white gouache, which was horrible to work on! Under-painting can be done in smudged pastel, wetted pastel, water colour or even very dilute oils. My adverse reaction to gouache at the start made me lean towards the dry pastel for the others – a decision made less difficult by the timely arrival of a new set of Conte Carres! I selected the same few Sennelier soft pastels as the overlay so that all I was changing was the background colours. All 6 were executed quite quickly and I didn’t really take to any of them, but I did find that I achieved more accurate tonal values when I worked on top of a notan under-painting. I managed to get pastel dust everywhere and all over my face as usual - so a good time was had. I feel like I've spent the afternoon at the gym and I'm be eager to do the remaining three.....

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