Fall Poplars (12 x 18)  $125.00

Fall Poplars (12 x 18) $125.00

I have admired pastels and mixed media with pastels for some time now.  There is a sparkly quality about pastels that no other medium can match.  Pastels over watercolors can create both spectacular and subtle effects.

My husband bought me pastels for Christmas, and I have been playing with them this last week.   Pastels are if  anything less forgiving than watercolor.  All color mixing must be done on the paper either optically or by smearing.  Pastel smears easily.  The paper holds only so much pastel before it suddenly won’t take anymore.   This last can be fixed somewhat, by using a workable fixative.  Some lifting is possible with a kneadable eraser.

The method is very different from watercolor too.  Working with them is a kind of cross between drawing and painting. Pastels are an opaque medium and therefore work best if the dark tones are blocked in first and the lights laid over them.  Highlight go on last. Nothing runs.  The chalk stays right where you put it until you smudge it.

I started this image on the rough side of a rose colored sheet of  Canson Mi-Tietens paper.   I laid in the sky with PanPastels.  PanPastels come in pots rather than sticks and they are highly pigmented and almost dustless.  Applying them is reminiscent of applying dry eyeshadow or rouge.  The top of the sky is phthalo blue. Further down I switched to ultramarine blue. Then I worked back up the sky from the horizon, overlaying the deep blue with ultramarine and phthalo tints (both of which are almost white).  I used white, and more of the blue tints to lay in the clouds.  Then I got out a violet soft pastel stick and added the deeper shadows smudging them in as I went.

I roughed in the far tree line with a dark blue shade of soft pastel.  I added a dark green shade lower down and smudged.  I pushed the pastel up into the sky with a sponge applicator.

Returning to PanPastels, I added the hills with turquoise blue shade and bright yellow green shade.  Burnt sienna came next.  Then I went back over the hills with a variety of green and brown soft pastels to create texture.  I smudged these in with my fingers.

Continuing with soft pastels, I drew in the poplar trunks first with a dark green gray and a red brown.  I added a lighter gray and then an almost white gray.   Then I added the leaves beginning with a dull orange, continuing with a brighter orange and finally a yellow orange.  I smudged the leaves on the farther tree to suggest a little distance.

With soft pastels I put in blue and purple shadows under the foreground trees to indicate the rough grass line.  I drew in the grass over the shadows with a variety of  hard pastels starting with the darker colors and continuing with the lighter ones.  I softened the lines with a finger.

After years of reserving or painting around the lighter colors, laying in the trees over the sky and grass felt like magic.

I enjoyed this.  Watercolor will remain my primary medium, but pastel has a rough sparkly quality I’d like.  Some images just seem to demand it.  I may also do some mixed media, painting a watercolor first before accenting it with pastel.

I ship my watercolors rolled in a tube or, if they or very small flat.  I provide free shipping for watercolors within the continental United States. Pastels cannot be safely rolled since they would smudge and they should be both matted and covered with a protective sheet.  Therefore, the shipping cost of my pastels will vary depending upon size.  All pastels will will include an acid free neutral colored mat and backing.


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