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3 Tips for Painting With Pastels

April 01, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

When using your dry pastel sticks, follow these three easy tips to ensure that your paintings keep the clearest, cleanest colors. These simple words of advice can keep your painting bright and sharp. Failing to heed any one of them can lead to a muddied, grayed-out work.

Tip one. While applying the colors, paint with the support positioned nearly vertical. You can lay it flat, except when actually rubbing color from a stick, then it should be vertical. This enables the inevitable rubbed-off crumbs of color and fine pastel dust to fall harmlessly down onto the table or floor rather than onto other parts of your painting, where it, a mix of all your colors, would gray or dull the painting.

Tip two. Construct your painting in several planned layers, working first with your hard pastels at the back or base of the painting, then painting forward over that, ending with your softest pastels at the very front. Whether you paint on tinted paper or over a dried watercolor under-painting, sketch in the basic plan of your ultimate pastel painting using hard pastels. Before moving past this under-painting stage, it's a good idea to fasten it to the paper with spray fixative. Your following soft pastels can then attach onto renewed a refreshed "tooth" of the paper. After completing the painting in your soft pastels, the remaining steps should be another session of spray fixing, this time of that soft pastel layer, and then, the very last step prior to framing, a judicious soft pastel touchup making the light highlights more brilliant, areas of strong colors more clear and vivid, and other desired pastel restatements.

Tip three concerns that controversial fixative again. Never finish your pastel painting with fixative. A final fixing would accomplish no good; it would surely only dull your colors. In my own experience, "fixative" is a misnomer and offers a false promise. The pastel last transferred to the paper is never very strongly attached, whether fixed or not. So, you still always have to avoid shaking or jarring the painting, etc. even after framing. The bare painting must never be rubbed against anything. (During the framing, the mat must never slip sideways against the pastel or a bald strip may form.) But, I do use a fixative during the painting process, before the painting is finished. If the painting in progress seems to have lost its tooth, if it refuses to easily accept more pastel, then the tooth can be restored via a fixative spay. The aerosol spraying must not be too vigorous or loosely attached pastel may be blown away before having a chance to fasten to the surface. Sure, the colors are dulled a little because of this last fixing, but remember, you should go over the colors again with clean soft pastels before declaring the painting finished. I never use a fixative as the very last step before framing. And, the glass or acrylic window of the frame must never touch your pastel painting.

For more tips for painting with pastels, visit the author's website: and follow him on Twitter: @speaking_of_art.

Source: EzineArticles
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