"Exploring", A Good Thing!

As I said in a previous post, I have decided to go on an exploring expedition, artistically that is. One of the issues I have been experiencing is that I am wanting more vibrancy in my paintings. I still like the subtlety of the layering of color but it seems to fall flat when I get it out of my studio into different lighting. I attribute this to not having enough pastel on the paper. I decided to take a cue from a previous painting I did on pumice primed gator board and see if I could use the pumice medium on my watercolor paper. This turned out to be a great idea. I began by applying a thin layer of Golden's Pumice Gel diluted with water to the consistency of melted ice cream to my watercolor paper. Once it was thoroughly dry I proceeded the same way I usually do. I established my under painting with various shades of watercolor, let it dry and proceeded from there with my pastels.

I was so much happier with the finished
results. It was definitely more vibrant without having to sacrifice subtlety of color. And the best part is that it continued to stand strong under softer lighting, I love that.

Here are the beginning stages of my first exploratory painting on pumice primed watercolor paper. The under painting is made of Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, and Quinacridone Gold.

When painting the initial foundation of watercolor on my paper I may have to let it dry and reapply several times to get the preferred intensity and/or desired value. If you've worked in pastel you know that it helps to have the right darkness on your paper before you ever put that first stroke of pastel down. The right underlying value allows your pastel to really come alive off your page. I strive to take the time (and effort) to get the under painting right before I ever allow myself to continue with pastel. Trust me, it will make the painting go so much more smoothly if you take the time to get this step right. Along with getting the values correct I make sure I get my dark areas as dark as I can get them with the colors I choose to use there.

Working on this step is just like working on a watercolor painting in that you need to be thinking several steps ahead. What colors you choose to use in the under painting directly depends on what pastels are going to be dragged over the top of that color. The watercolor hue on the bottom will most likely be peaking through the pastel strokes on top and you want to make sure those colors are what you want to achieve your desired effect. When working this way you may even want to intentionally allow the bottom layer of watercolor to reveal itself more with less pastel on top of it from time to time to allow an element of movement and translucency within your painting.

One last thing, I chose to keep my under painting colors on the subdued side on this piece because I wanted my final image to have the feeling of peacefulness. Each painting is different, though, and depending on the feel you are trying to create, the under painting may be quite different in vibrancy. In my next post I will show you a lot more of the pastel development.