View Full Version : Underpainting of OK landscape needs help

mr sad
08-25-2013, 06:42 PM

Canson Mi-Tientes with Faber Castell pastels. Blended with a tortillon.

The support's color, instead of being suggested, seems to dominate the painting. In other paintings, even when I've continued on and painted over the underpainting, the support's color dominates

To put it another way, I have a lot of trouble finding a balance between "filling the tooth with pastel" and "muddying the painting."

Does anyone have any recommendations as to where I can go from here? How to continue on? I have Rembrandts and Senneliers that will go on top of the underpainting.

08-25-2013, 07:18 PM
Hi Paul, I was wondering what colour paper you used, I almost always use a light coloured support if I intend to do an underpainting first. If I am using a dark or bright colour I find it works best to just start painting and use the colour of my support to provide some of the mid or dark values. Have you tried wetting the pastel that you have on there? You can use water or alcohol. This might help get you going. One thing I would suggest you do change however is your large shapes. From what I can tell, the foreground, middle ground and sky are all pretty close in the space they take up and the shapes. If the sky is important to this piece then maybe give it more room, or vice versa if it is the foreground or the mountains that you would like to dominate. Leesa :wave:

08-25-2013, 10:10 PM
Leesa gave you good advice here.
It is true that the support color sometimes dominates. Use that to your advantage. The support color can be a kind of under painting in itself, or part of the under painting. This is especially true with canson paper, as the tooth can be filled too quickly. For that reason my approach to under painting with canson is "less is better" and I rely heavily on the paper itself to create the mood and feel of the painting. That is what has worked for me you may have a different experience or develop a different style. That is part of what makes art art.

08-26-2013, 02:16 PM
IMho its a bit early to know which direction you are going.

At my chapter of the federation of canadian artist we have an open critique segment several times a year & often people bring under-paintings but the result is always the same: very tough to offer advice because its not finished enough.

I mean compositionally its fine, the colours/contrast is very muted but thats to be expected at this stage.

The one thing I would personally suggest is not to use a tortillon at this early of a stage. I mean remember that when you use a stump (even with light pressure) you are really grinding the pigment into the grooves of the paper, which can affect how you layer with your subsequent pastels.

Do you have a focal point in mind for this piece?

mr sad
08-26-2013, 10:31 PM
Thanks for the good advice, all.

The comments on focus & arrangement are excellent, too, and I will incorporate those into my next painting.

08-27-2013, 04:03 AM
I'm moving this to the studio as that is where all pictures/WIPS should be...but don't worry, I'm leaving a redirect in Pastel Talk - just in case!

08-27-2013, 10:11 AM
Hi Paul!

I'm in agreement with everything that has been said, especially Justin's comments about the tortillion. You never want to fill the paper tooth early on in your painting. If you work on a nuetral or gray toned paper you won't need to underpaint as much. The paper color showing through will add a "sheen" to your layers of color, thus allowing your color values to really work as they should. Pastel is at it's best IMHO when the colors are layered with little or no blending. I find that begining with "hard pastels", such as NuPastels and ending with the "Soft" brands like Sennilier, will really make a difference.

I think you should continue, you've certainly gotten some really great advice here!! I hope you post the finished piece!


08-27-2013, 02:52 PM
interesting comments ...

the composition looks okay to me .
the green marks on the lower third suggest that there will be bushes , grasses , whatever ,
and green will dominate the lower half of the painting ;
a nice play of the composition/proportions issue . :)

dominant support colour is also about value and temperature ;
those factors may be clear to you from the start ,
or become more obvious as the work progresses ,
and how well you know or are willing to experiment with your sticks
for subtle uniformity or bold contrasts/accents .

a stump has worked for me to disburse the first layer of pigment
working with the side of the stump once the stick colour has covered the stump , so
have several stumps on hand . :D
a triangulated viva paper towel is surprisingly effective - a semi-stump ...

rembies have that .5 marking = pure colour , no white or black ;
a strong colour punch in , say , the foreground yellow-green clumps
will hold up better against the darker greens which appear to have some ruddy colour blended in , and that value ,
although the idea of switching that base around with further layers is catchy !

every brand of pastel has different degrees of softness/release in the selection ;
getting to know the ' feel ' of each stick in your collection is time well used !
- kinda like learning scales on an instrument , or basic cooking techniques . :D

hope that helps .


mr sad
08-28-2013, 11:24 PM

I need to read up on painting far distances. The hills in the distance look like... nothing. I like the way the bush on the left pops out from the evergreen behind it. I like the color in the foreground grass & soil.

08-29-2013, 12:44 AM
I think you are on the right track. Maybe grey the hills a bit at a time until you get the look you are going for.

08-29-2013, 11:25 PM
Definitely moving along. I learned a lot also from people's comments. I now use wallis sanded so can't comment on paper but I agree with "Pointy" when she recommended changing an area in your painting. I have an art book that is all about making your art more interesting. The author's number one rule is to never make any two intervals in a painting the same. Your painting is evenly divided into thirds. Perhaps reduce mountain by about half and that will give you a larger sky and make all three areas different. I am a novice but I have to admit, I have changed many sketches before starting when I realized I had two or more intervals the same. Sometimes I realize I may have two similar negative shapes and change them. Hope this helps. Pam