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Experimenting with Watermedia (2)

, 10:22

My next effort was on a small made-up picture of two pears; again on pale grey PastelMat card. The card was dampened and a yellow, salmon-pink and red-violet stick hatched over the surface in various places and allowed to spread. Once dried, I didn't totally like the colour created so added orange as well. This all dried back to a golden haze.

Now I worked with the sticks dry. I drew a couple of pear shapes, putting one further away from the other. The more distant one was worked on lightly with a pale green and pale mauve, attempting to model the 3D aspect of the fruit. The closer pear was hatched over with yellow, then orange; I wasn't quite happy and decided to add water.....which took off across the sheet and spread the colour beyond the pear. So I reshaped the pear to accommodate the blot and let it dry.

From here, a couple of greens were used to add further variety to the pear's surface, followed by violets. Shadows were put in with deep purple and a dark blue, plus a little white at their outer edges. No more water was added!

A little bit of hatching for a table surface, and that was it. The waxy nature of these sticks can fill the tooth of the paper (not that it has much to start with); pressing hard will fill it faster.

So what do I think of these colours so far? Well, they create some nice effects especially with water; and they hatch over each other well. I have not yet tried them on their sides, like a soft pastel; I think I need a paper with more tooth for that. They are very good for calligraphic line-work on top of washes. Whether they are strong enough to hold their own as a medium, I don't know; I feel they are best used as part of a mixed media work.....like with gouache, or acrylic or collage, for example. I think they are ok for making small paintings/drawings, but they don't do sharp detail (as you might expect).

Their waxy nature might preclude them from certain techniques and, in other work, it may be just as quick to use actual watercolour or coloured inks for a background. I'd like to try something a little larger as a subject, just to test them further....but my box of colours could need supplementing with a few extra purchases and I'm not up for that at the moment.

Tomorrow I'll be getting back to some new "starts" on work, so will post soon.

Fruit Dish; pastel 15x12 inches approx.

, 09:55

This week's post was completed back in early May, during a short session of working with fruit still life variants. The dish is an old one that has been with me almost my entire life, rarely used because of a large crack in its base. I set it up with a few fruits on a window-ledge. Most attention was focused on the fruit, rather than the bold pattern of the dish but it was still necessary to indicate something of design. The work surface chosen was a spare, previously pasteled sheet of Canson Touch; the original painting was brushed off leaving an overall neutral tone to the paper.

It is likely that the month of July will be very busy and time for painting will be extremely short. With that in mind, posts here may still run weekly but with smaller and less exotic finished pieces.....for a while.

Pear on Plate: pastel 8x11 inches

, 09:36

Local exhibition time approaches, a couple of months' time, so I need to over-view my products from the past six to twelve months and decide what to frame up.

Today's pastel is a very simple one; just a pear on a plate. I had been tempted to add a spoon, or even a lump of cream to the plate, but somehow couldn't bring myself to do it. The surface is a sheet of watercolour paper that has been painted over with white gesso. I started the general drawing of the pear and plate with a Conte stick; once the outlines were in place, I began to lightly fill in colour on the pear using a few Rembrandt pastels. For the plate I put down a few blue-greys, and marked in a darker grey for the pear's shadow.
At this time I have been experimenting with using acrylic polymer medium as a fixative and also as a fluid for "painting" the pastel. Bill Creevy's 1990's book "The Pastel Painting Book" contains a number of examples where he has used acrylic medium as a fixative; and Dawn Emerson also talks about the use of acrylic matt medium as a "painting" fluid in her "Pastel Innovations" book.
The thing to keep in mind is that the medium will dissolve the pastel and muss up any patterning or fine detail that you may have laid in; so it's best not to do too much of that. Bill Creevy's aim was to build up pastel layers; you can add dry pastel on top of the acrylic-medium treated work with little problem, when it is dry.

In my case, I was just playing with the technique to see what would happen. After initial pastel layers were put down, I got a soft-ish brush and painted acrylic medium over the pear and over the plate. Now....at the moment I only have the gloss medium. It does work fine, but tends to leave some shiny areas. I will be getting myself some matt medium in due course. When dry, I continued pastelling. I coloured in the background around the plate; initially it was a red-brown with some deep-blue streaks, but I didn't like it and tried to add another colour on top to change it. As a result I filled the tooth of the surface.

So....after brushing a lot off, I painted over it with acrylic medium and left it to dry. Now, the whole picture had been fixed. A thought of further experimentation seized me and I picked up my pot of clear gesso, covering the whole painting with it and creating more tooth.
The rest of the painting was completed by adding the pear's markings with soft Unison pastels; putting in the plate's gold rim and indicating subtle shadowing on what was actually quite a flat plate; and finally going for a complementary deep blue background. In the end I am glad I added more tooth to the surface; and I also proved to myself that it could be done partway through a work.

Peared Off: pastel 13x9 inches

, 19:29


This blog hasn't got a "secure" padlock but the main website is now fully on https and all seems to be up and running, bar one or two pesky images that refuse to show up. They'll be fixed in due course. Last week I was forced off any painting by family events, so a little rattled not to get something completed. However, Peared Off was finished and is currently on the website and also at OriginalArtUnder100.com This one is worked with a lot of crosshatching in harder pastel, before laying on soft pastel gently for the fruit and little white cloth.

Pears on Plate: pastel 8x8 inches

, 14:03

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/625068

After last week's brightly coloured apple on Uart paper, this week's fruit is a little more sombre. It is also the first piece that I have worked on a hand-textured sheet of mountboard. The board was coated with a couple of layers of clear gesso, using a bristle brush. No grains of pumice or other particles, just gesso. There is enough tooth created by the gesso to hold the pastel very well. (another idea from Karen Margulis' blog!). Working on such a surface was quite a different experience from PastelMat. The board is firm and you can push pastel over it without fear of ruckling up a paper surface. It also sands your pastels down, but the result is a much more painterly effect, no hard edges and not much opportunity for fiddling details.

The pears themselves were a soft golden brown with patches of green and muted highlights. The plate below them is made of glass. Light is coming from top right (the plate was on a window ledge in natural light, albeit rather dull). I did need to spray the picture at a couple of stages and also tap off loose dust but it has all held together very well.

I like this rough surface and have completed a further picture which will go up in a couple of week's time.