View Full Version : Utter naif has question(s)

01-30-2016, 08:16 PM
I just got my new box of Sennelier pastels and am busy creating tons of dust and two interesting, if not great, paintings.
I'm using Uart 400 paper, which seems to work well, but then what would I know. As I apply the pastels, using fairly light strokes, I occasionally tap the board the paper is taped to to get rid of the extra pastel.
I decided to try to blend a bit using an old soft brush, and was amazed when nearly all of the pastel came off! There were probably 3 layers on the paper at that point, plus a dry alcohol wash underneath.
I know pastels are fragile, but what should i be doing to keep the pastel on the paper? Harder strokes? Blending w a (covered) finger? Don't really want to do that as I like the unblended look. I understand most fixatives darken and change the pastels, so probably not that.
Any help is much appreciated. I've wandered around this forum and haven't found an answer to this. Thanks!

water girl
01-30-2016, 08:21 PM
Did you try using NuPastels or other harder pastels for your first layer? I too want to hear other opinions.

01-30-2016, 08:50 PM
Knocking access pastel off - good idea. Using a brush - maybe not. If you want to blend, you need something that will push the pastel particles into the tooth, even if very gently. It looks like the brush probably just "scooped" the pastel out of the tooth. I use my fingers to blend, but I know many do not as blending can "dull" the color. But blending the initial layers is almost a must in my opinion, as it pushes the pastel into the paper. I think this is more true with the softest pastels - such as Sennellier - since a softer touch is usually used with them compared to the harder pastels which you can use with more force pressing the pastel into the paper. If you want to keep the "sparkle" of an unblended pastel, then just don't blend at the end.

While using fixative is a personal decision, using it on the early layers when you know that you will be adding at least one more layer is certainly an option. Then it doesn't matter so much if it darkens the colors a bit. Spectrafix is a popular fixative that people have had good results with. The cheap fixative sprays are generally the worst and I would avoid them. That's my take.


01-30-2016, 09:34 PM
I've tried a ton of different methods of blending/pushing pastel into paper for an underpainting over the years. A piece of black pipe insulation works best for me. Buy the tube at Lowe's and just cut 1/2" or so off. Agree, I don't want the top layers blended other than with another pastel stick.

01-30-2016, 09:53 PM
So much to learn.... Thanks for the advice!

01-30-2016, 10:15 PM
I usually blend with another pastel stick. Sanded paper doesn't usually lose much pastel or need fixative, you can keep layering indefinitely. But brushing is a way of removing pastel from paper as you found out! A brush is never a blender, the sanded texture is what makes the pastels adhere.

Very soft pastels like Sennelier can fill the tooth fast and make it hard to layer more. if you use a hard pastel of an intermediate color to blend across two colors to make a soft edge, that's something I've seen done effectively. No one I know blends with fingers on sanded paper, that's a technique more for unsanded paper or more softly coated paper.

Blending with a Sennelier stick might just lay on too much of the blending stick to work but you could try it.

I like to have three different textures of pastels - hard also called "semi-hard' pastels at first, including any alcohol or water wash for underpainting. Then medium soft like Rembrandt or Art Spectrum, then finish with Sennelier or Terry Ludwig. It's easy to get thick impasto strokes with Sennelier, make strong visible marks with them.

But no painting done with dry pastels stands up to being rubbed without being smudged and losing color. That's just a logistic of pastel painting. It doesn't need to be varnished solid, people aren't supposed to touch it when it's done.

If you turn it upside down over a trash bin and snap the back with your finger, it should release any loose dust that's going to come off and not remove the entire image. Don't do this with velour paper or all the pastel comes off, it's awful for that. I think when I get back to velour paper I'll have a go with pastel pencils and hard pastels to see if that sticks better. On sanded paper like Uart 400 it's okay to snap the dust off, I've done it without losing the art.

01-31-2016, 06:53 AM
On sanded paper you can blend, or work the pigment into the tooth, with a packing peanut or a piece of pipe insulation. Saves the fingers for sure! A Brush will just take the pastel dust out of the tooth with the effect you experienced!