Bold Underpaintings for Lively Pastel Landscapes

Last December I was fortunate to be asked by, a division of F+W Media, the parent company of The Pastel Journal, to do a couple of video workshops. Shooting took place over a two-day period at their state-of-the-art sound stage near F+W Media’s Cincinnati headquarters. An added benefit of the visit was the opportunity to meet many of the F+W family of employees that I’ve had the pleasure to work with from afar. The first day of filming focused on underpainting techniques—something that plays a major part in my pastel work. The second day focused on the three stages of my painting process: sensitivity, serendipity and solve. The two resulting videos cover my working style and make a nice complement to the other instructional DVDs on pastel and oil that I’ve done for Artist Productions.

As I am rarely at a loss for words, the videographers and director had their work cut out to keep me to a timeline, but we did cover a lot of ground. I addressed the principles of value and color relationships, based in the theory of “simultaneous contrast,” which are choices that set the foundation for subsequent pastel selections. I demosntrated various methods for creating underpaintings using pastel, watercolor and thin oil washes, as well as methods of spreading pastel dry and wet. After covering these topics, I applied the techniques to a landscape of a winter canal scene. The importance of a well thought out composition and value map started the demonstration. Once secure in the design of the painting, the underpainting began. I chose to do it with a bold, drippy, watercolor technique on a sanded pastel surface that illustrated the playful serendipity of this stage of the painting. Edges ran together, colors mingled, and splashes of water created interesting textures. After this dried, I applied pastel to develop the painting. Accepting the underpainting for what it provided, which is a set up for the pastel application, governed this step of the demonstration. Examples of various underpaintings were shown to illustrate the possibilities.

The video, “Bold Underpaintings for Lively Pastel Landscapes,” is the result of this first day of filming. My hope is that this video will encourage other pastelists to explore the creative possibilities that open up with an underpainting. It has made all the difference in my work. The video is available now to view online as many times as you wish over a period of six months for $14.99 at See the preview below.

The second video is scheduled for release on in early April (I’ll be sure to alert you). And both videos will be available for purchase in DVD format some time next month at the NorthLightShop.

I want to personally thank all those involved in making these videos available. Words can only go so far in communicating a concept. Having the opportunity to make something visual is invaluable.

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One thought on “Bold Underpaintings for Lively Pastel Landscapes

  1. Janis Ellison

    I have had the pleasure of seeing the first video and was really impressed with the clarity of your presentation and the well organized and thought out approach you presented. You managed to instill your sense of passion for lively under paintings and include a wealth of information in this DVD. I would highly recommend it to any level student, beginner and advanced alike.

    I plan to view the followup one very soon!