Often pastellists and oil painters start with the darks moving through the mid tones and out to the lights in a painting. Today I tried another way that I'd like to share with you. As a pastellist I have a selection of ready to go colours and tones with this medium. It is a quick way of painting plein-air.
As I set up I was studying my subject. I am looking for lights and darks, for the patterns and the rhythm. While I was doing this today I had a bottle of fixative rolling around that was getting in the way. Before I decided to throw it i realised I could actually make use of this in a different way of painting, well for me. Maybe it will resonate with you too.
I have a bottle fixative I bought for a workshop demonstration, I don't use it in my every day practice. It was in my bag as a left over from that time and forever getting in the way. Maybe it was telling me something!
So I adapted my pastelling method by starting at the feature point with the intent to use the fixative.
Instead of starting with the darks, I started with the lights. I put in all the light tones, not the brightest most intense colours just the lights. Then I added the darker tones, not the darkest dark. Already the painting made sense. This was the point that I picked up the fixative and sprayed the painting so far. Why, when I dislike what fixative does to all those gorgeous colours and the lights? (it darkens them).
I chose to spray so as to fix the pastel so far, then I could get in with the mid tones behind and in front of the subject with out disturbing the initial layer of gorgeousness. Is there such a word? I could run over what I had done and cut back to it with a small brush or eraser. It was easy to see where the first lot of pastel was, as the second lot that sat on top left a kind of speed bump, a visual tell tale.
Finishing a pastel has never been easier!! I added the intense colours the brights and the mid tones, got in with the detail, the fiddly bits that I love in a painting, added more pattern and colour and voila it was done. Well most of it was.
Standing back yet again, I found some extra dark could go on now, the darkest dark. Sometimes it isn't needed. Painting plein-air lets me see just how dark the darks are. Often their no where near as dark as in a photo. (And that's a whole different story.)
Starting in the dark is not always necessary. As artist C.W. Mundy said "you are the director of your own show". You choose how to start and paint your piece. I found that starting at the focal point and with the lights, liberating and freeing. This method allowed me to create a more painterly painting as I was looking for tones and shapes. Using that annoying bottle of fixative made for a fun exercise, a new method of plein-air painting has come my way.
Give it a try and see how it works for you. Let me know what you think about it by leaving a comment.
Making Pastel Happen -
a blog about everything pastel.
It's my aim to share techniques, tips, tricks, adventures, products, paintings, educate, inspire and foster the appreciation of Pastel.
I welcome your feedback and questions and don't promise to post regularly, but to let you know when I do post I'l give it my best shot to answer your questions and if I can't I'll let you know. Gee I may even be able to give you the name of someone who can answer.
Either way this blog is about making pastel happen. I sincerely wish you to join me on this adventure. best wishes, Karol