...serenity in pastel
My pastels have a very soft appearance because I mostly use extremely soft pastel. I also work on 2 different surfaces. The most common one you will find with my work is suede mat board. The Furry texture of the mat, holds a lot of pigment and will take many layers. It also has the added bonus of coming in a variety of bold colors giving me a base color to start with. I have been known to use bright red, purple and orange. When the surface of the mat becomes so full of pastel that it will no longer grab it, I can also spray it with fixative to put more layers on the painting. You end up with a much richer color that glows in different lights. It is a forgiving surface, which is helpful when you need to change different areas of your painting. If you need to you can scrape off your mistakes or cover them with more pastel. With oil and acrylic, if you play too much in one area with different colors; it will end up looking muddy or dull. You don’t have to worry about that with pastel. Unfortunately, the furry surface doesn’t blend as quickly or easily. You can smudge your surface a little, but not very much. The other problem is you have to use very specific and soft pastel pencils for detail. Hard colored pencils or regular pastel pencils will actually remove pastel from your surface. I am still learning how to create sharp lines.
I also paint on sanded paper. That takes less pastel and is much easier to blend but, it will not let you build up many layers. I worked on several where I have had to take a paint brush to the surface to remove some of the pastel. It is a bigger challenge because I have to plan farther ahead and it isn’t anywhere near as forgiving as the suede. But the blending you can achieve! It can almost be like pushing paint around on the surface. I have also played with layers of fixative on the surface too. It doesn’t take as many but you can build up very fine layers on the painting. That is to say, put a little color where you think you may want a hint and then rub it in. You can remove layers of fixed pastel when you are doing this but you will always have a tint of the original color.
Working on the Sanded paper, you can add detail and clean lines with most pastel pencils. The pencils will also smudge if you want (or even if you don’t). There is more control with this surface but more challenge for me. Sanded paper will also reflect a truer color than what you find on suede mat. It will look brighter without special lighting, and will photograph more easily. I found that using sanded ceramic board, if your pastel isn’t thick; the board color will reflect when you photograph it.
T Kurtz lives a peaceful life in Spokane WA with her husband, 1 feline master, and 2 faithful dogs.
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