Underpainting in pastels

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susanrosen wrote
on 11 Feb 2014 11:21 AM

I am new to pastels.  I only recently became aware of the use of underpainting in pastel art.  Upon what materials can underpainting be done.

 I have been using colored pastel paper and white drawing paper as the surface for my work.    Do you recommend underpainting on paper?   Will it work on this surface?  What surfaces and media is do you recommend for underpainting.  

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on 11 Feb 2014 12:27 PM

Media used for underpainting can be wet or dry. If you chose to use dry media, you can work with any surface that suits you. If you chose wet media for underpainting, you must also chose a surface that will work well with that wet medium. And not buckle, bulge, tear, interfere with your technique, or be otherwise compromised.

Be aware that if you are using colored pastel paper, you may not need any underpainting at all.

For a quick overview of some ideas, see : Underpainting Techniques to Enliven Your Paintings, by Richard McKinley, here : http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-demos-techniques/pastel-pointers-underpainting-techniques-to-enliven-your-paintings

The best way to decide which combination of underpainting medium + surface works best for you is to try a number of them. I use watercolor or water-wetted pastel to make my underpainting on white sanded UArt paper and on white Multimedia Pastel Board. These two combinations work well for me. I usually cover the entire sheet with the underpainting, leaving no blank white paper anywhere.

More on underpainting for pastels :

 -- http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/search/label/underpaintings

 -- http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=553015

I hope this helps!

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on 17 Feb 2014 1:08 PM

Yes, I do recommend underpainting on paper. It will work best if done on plain bright white paper. (No need to underpaint if you're already starting with colored paper.)

If you are using wet media for your underpainting, be sure to chose paper or board that will not buckle or be damaged by the liquid you chose. I have had very good results with water and alcohol wet media underpainting on UArt paper, UArt board, and Multimedia Artboard.

I use watercolor, gouache, and wetted hard pastels for my underpainting. All three work well. 

I dislike oil-based solvents, so don't have much experience using those to disolve an initial pastel layer into an underpainting. But many pastelists love the dreamy texture you achieve with the solvents. For me, it isn't worth the mess, clean-up, and smell.

Karen Margulis has an excellent series of posts on underpainting, with discussion of various techniques, purposes, and materials that will go far in answering your questions : http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/search/label/underpaintings

Have fun!


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on 18 Jul 2014 1:33 AM

Yes, I also do recommend under painting on paper. However, it has to a surface or paper that can get wet.  Apart from this, you also need to consider the color of the paper as it has an impact on the results.

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