Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ray Hassard pastel workshop, Day 2 Part 1

Still Life with Gravy Boat 12x9 pastel, copyright 2012

Day 2 of the workshop was all about a technique I knew about but had not yet tried: underpainting.  The idea is to paint first, then lay the pastels over top of the painting - the underpainting then influences the pastel painting.  This is especially useful on white and light colored papers when it can otherwise be difficult to get good, saturated darks and brights.  Again, Ray did a demonstration in the morning, then let us loose to try it ourselves.  I chose another paper that I had not used before called UArt.  It holds up well to liquids without warping and can even be scrubbed off with a sponge, and comes only in white and off white.  

This was a fun technique to play with.   First the still life was sketched with charcoal, then pastels applied in whatever color you want.  The apple was painted orange and the green bowl a bright yellow, for example.  Then the pastel is set into the paper with a brush dipped in rubbing alcohol.  Turpentine and mineral spirits can also be used.  The pastel can not be removed from the paper after this, except with a wash of the same solution, and it can not be blended.  Water works too, but the pastel can be removed and blended a bit.  Drips, washes, splatters and weird colors all can make for a very interesting, even abstracted underpainting.  

After that, it's up to the artist how much is covered.  Some cover it entirely and some incorporate it into their final painting, including leaving drips and splatters visible.  I mostly covered it, except in the green bowl where the yellow made a nice highlight.  But while working on the background and the red cloth I discovered that the paper became clogged with pastel and reached a point where I could add no more, which was rather frustrating as I wasn't quite done yet.  More washes with alcohol and water didn't help much.

Ray admitted that he usually doesn't use this technique much, except to change the tint of lighter colored paper and to set really dark darks.  I think that's probably what I will end up doing as well.  While it was fun to play, it doesn't suit my methodology that well.

Tomorrow I'll post the second painting from Day 2, and my thoughts on the workshop.

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