Under painting in pastels

by Leigh Osgood
(Bangor, Maine, USA)

To achieve greater depth in paintings, start your pastel with an under painting--start with hard pastels and darker colors, then build up with lighter colors and finish your highlights (and touch up your deepest shadows) with your softest pastels.

I often lay out the basic forms in a landscape in deep purple and build from there. Using that same dark base for rocks, trees and shadows brings a cohesiveness to the painting. Be bold and use colors that seem stronger than what you see -- they will tone down in layering and blending. I never use fixative because of it's impact on color -- I've had paintings ruined by fixative.

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by: Mops

Very useful information.

Adding depth to pastel painting
by: Artymarg

Some good advice here but I think you can achieve even greater depth and richness if you use a fairly large, flat bristle brush and paint with water or alcohol (alcohol dries much quicker so there is little wait time) over your first roughed in layer of pastels.

Of course, you have to make sure you are using a surface that has been primed or is specially prepared for using water media.

An excellent surface for this I have found, is Colourfix Primer made by Art Spectrum. For more tooth you can use the sanded version of this or make your own sanded paper by adding sand to the regular primer. This enables many more layers of pastel to be added and creates an even greater depth.

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