I recently had an Emeril Lagasse moment–and it happened when I mixed pastels with water for the first time.
|Three Sunflowers on Blue by Jimmy Wright, pastel painting, 30 x 41.|
A while back, I confided that I wanted to start an earnest study and exploration of pastel painting. That resulted in me mucking about on my own for a few hours–I just let myself play as I created a pastel drawing. First, I spent time seeing what the stick of pastel can do in terms of mark-making. I varied the pressure I applied to the surface of the paper; I tried holding the pastel like a pencil and also experimented with running it across the paper on its side. I smeared it with my finger, and then reached for the water.
At first I thought, what have I done? But I started playing around with the water, applying washes to my pastel-painting paper, and the colors all started to blend together. It was lovely. I tried using a spray bottle, too, which yielded interesting results–the pastel powder got drawn into the droplets of water and ran down the surface when I tilted the paper.
|Sunflower with Red Leaves by Jimmy Wright,
pastel painting, 41 x 29, 1996.
So for my first un-chaperoned tour of pastels, I think I taught myself a lot about pastel painting–mostly about being brave when it comes to trying different things. I felt really liberated. So I hope you get a little fearless with your art, too. Nothing but good can come of it!
I've only touched on one aspect of pastels, but there are plenty more pastel-painting lessons waiting to be learned. For compelling and interesting pastel instruction, check out Claudia Seymour's latest pastel lessons DVD, Pastel Painting Techniques: Still Life Flowers. It offers insights from a professional artist who always shares the best of her artistry with us. Enjoy!