I struggle painting in layers i.e. white soft pastel on top of blue (painting a seascape). It doesn’t get as white as I want it to and the white chalk gets dirty all the time. Any tips on how to overcome this? Should I avoid layering and only paint white in that zone or should I use another medium such as white gouache?
One thing that helps with layering pastel, other than paper choice, is spraying a workable fixative between layers. Many are against it for various reasons. But, it works very well for me. Also, your choice of paper has a lot to do with how many layers of pastel it will take. I have found that the best papers for layers of pastel are sanded paper and velour papers. You may want to experiment with them. For the one your are working on right now, I recommend workable fixative. Krylon is one brand. You can research the various brands at any online art store, like Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama, etc.
I am the one who does not use fixative as from experience I learned that it totally changed the texture as Matt has repeatedly said in many of the member’s minutes Q&A sessions. As Ginny says, the choice of the paper is very important, but actually I use a simple sketchbook paper, not using fixative, and yet I can develop white layers with no problem. I don’t know how much brightness you want for the white layers in your work, but if something like the clouds in my works attached suffices, you can do this without using any special papers or fixative. I myself take it as an issue of your choice of pastel brand and how much pressure you put when you add white layers on the blue layers. I mainly use shmincke, but rembtandt also works well. as to the pressure, I firstly develop a very solid blue layer by putting strong pressure on it, so much so that I don’t need to use fixative to actually “fix” the blue layer, and then apply white using very light pressure, blend it slightly with the surrounding blue layer, and add white bit by bit on the thin first white layer. Hope this helps!
Thank you so much, Ginny and Maki for these excellent suggestions. I am pretty sure my problem is caused by paperchoise, as I have used my sketchbook which has a slight roughness / toothed surface, but probably not enough. I will also try to give fixative a go. I am working with Faber-Castell soft pastels student edition, which I actually think is quite ok, but I might buy some better ones e.g. Rembrandt, Schminke or Sennelier. I should also mention I have used the technique, Maki explained. I’m both using my fingers and a makeup beautyblender (a sponge) to work the pastel into the paper by a dabbing technique.
PS. I love that cat painting, Maki! The composition is awesome, so are the colors, and the motive of the reading cats.
Thank you! This work was reviewed in Member’s Minute Episode 227
If interested, please check it out
I’ve just watched the review - and …Wow! I must say I am just as impressed as Matt by these three masterpieces you have created. However, I don’t agree with him the extension of blending is a problem. Quite opposite, I think the balance between pure colors and blended ones are fine.
If you consider selling these, I think you should insist they only are sold together due to the theme that tie them together. So if you chose selling them, demand a very high price. They are definitely worth it - and if this is your usual standard, you are definitely gonna make it big as an artist. In fact, they remind me a bit of David Hockney’s colorful works. Thanks a lot for showing me these - I am truly full of admiration!
Try wiping the white pastel off off with a paper towel as you go along. White gauche will work too. Continue to layer. or try using a colorless blender.
Thank you Anna Maria, for your kind words! No, I am not going to sell the originals of this series because they are not independent pieces but part of the animated film which I’m now making. I am selling the postcards though, and if there is anyone who hopes to purchase the larger prints of them, I will prepare them on demand.
Also, thank you for letting me know about David Hockney. Until I read your response here, I did not know anything about him. but I checked his works on the Internet, and found his works marvelous
Thank you for your kind words again, and wish you luck with your white layering challenge!