Saturday, September 22, 2012

Studio Saturday - Pastel Underpaintings

I continue to do a lot of experimenting with my artwork. But I have to say that I think I am finally to the place where so many of the classes I have taken in the past, have finally come full circle and those skills are useful in the way I work now. I don't have it all figured out, nor at the point that it is easy, but I am more comfortable applying these skills and integrating them all in one painting.

I've recently been watching some DVDs of the artists Albert Handell and Richard McKinley, who both do pastels and oils. Today I was more interesting in the pastels and how they both do underpaintings to begin their pastel paintings. Richard uses two types of paint for this depending on his location; either thin oil paints or watercolors. Both artists use Wallis sanded paper which I disliked because of the technique I was using at the time. I have now changed my mind about this paper! I like it using this technique! Generally, my favorite pastel paper is PastelMat. So today, I decided to try both papers and underpainting techniques.

I started with two similar sized papers with the Wallis paper on the left and the PastelMat on the right. I sketched my scene in pencil. I decided to use a different point of interest in each which I will point out later.
Left is Wallis, right is PastelMat
I used thin oil paint on the Wallis and watercolor on the PastelMat. As you can see, there is quite the difference in the look. 
I left these dry thoroughly, then worked with the pastels on each painting one at a time. On the Pastelmat (shown below on the top), I intended on using the area in the middle top as my center of interest, so I tried to (key word - 'try'!) put more detail and contrast in this area, while leaving the foreground a bit more unresolved.
On the bottom painting is the Wallis paper with oil underpainting. I intended the front left bottom to be my center of interest. 

Although I am pleased with both these paintings, I am surprised that I felt I couldn't leave more of the underpainting showing - instinctively, I felt I needed to cover most of it up. I think on the next one I will try to take more time penciling in the design and be more aggressive with the colors and strength of the underpainting and not cover so much of it up in the end.

When I view these paintings in my photos, I like them both. But in person, I believe the Wallis paper with the oil underpainting is a much better painting. What do you think?

PastelMat with watercolor underpainting

Wallis with oil underpainting

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