What Lies Beneath

The general purpose of beginning a pastel painting with an underpainting is to create a roadmap befor applying your pastles. An underpainting can be approached with values of complimentary colors, analogous colors or in gray tones.

Pastelist, Richard McKinley has this to say about the dry underpainting...

  • Traditionally, harder sticks of pastel work best for dry pastel underpainting. They deposit a minimal amount of pigment, providing more control. When softer sticks are used, it's best to apply as little pastel as possible; otherwise, a heavy pastel layer will form.
  • Richer pastel hues, those containing less grey, are also preferable, unless a muted undertone is desired.
  • Surface will affect the final appearance by the nature of its base tone and tooth. The lighter the surface tone, the brighter the underpainting will appear.
  • The tooth of the surface will affect how much pastel can be applied and drifted without being lifted.
  • Tools used for smearing/drifting the pastel can be the artist's hand or any number of external devises such as a paper towel, leather chamois, a piece of plastic foam pipe insulation, or a plastic shopping bag. It is advisable to experiment before committing to a serious painting project.
My dry underpainting above was achieved with Nupastels and a piece of pipe insulation! Maybe we will try that in class this week!


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