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Srineet
10-27-2016, 01:03 AM
Hello all,

One question that I had was whether blending was an essential part of painting with pastels. Would every pastel painting normally use blending? And within a given painting are do almost all parts of it involve the use of blending?

Also, are there example pastel paintings where blending was not used?

I used to do watercolours and am somewhat new to pastels, and still learning what is the norm for this medium. Also,I assume people using children's crayons don't use blending - is that right?

Many thanks.

- Srineet.

Donna T
10-27-2016, 11:32 AM
Hi Srineet,

I think it's kind of a misconception that pastels need to be blended. They actually look so much more luminous and vibrant when they aren't! I'm not an expert on the science of pastel particles but I've read that they are faceted like diamonds with many surfaces on each particle to catch and reflect light. When pastel particles are blended (crushed, smooshed, smeared etc.) those reflective surfaces are destroyed and the resulting image is flat and lifeless. Pastels show off their beauty best when they are applied in layers and "mixed" optically. When we view a pastel from a normal distance our eyes are enchanted by the way the colors mingle and glow. When we use pastels on a textured surface we can create a layered luminosity that is unique to the pastel medium. One of my favorite artists is Loriann Signori. Look what she creates by layering pastels on a textured surface and allowing each layer to shine through in the finished piece:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Oct-2016/97763-1971864w360.jpg

SAS Designs
10-27-2016, 11:54 AM
Donna:
THANK YOU - Loriann Signori
WOW - just amazing.
suzy

Donna T
10-27-2016, 05:13 PM
Her work is inspiring, isn't it, Suzy? She can say a lot with some very simplified subject matter.

DAK723
10-27-2016, 06:53 PM
As Donna mentions, you do not have to blend. It may have a lot to do with your subject matter and style. Similar to oils, you can leave your strokes visible or make sure no strokes are visible by blending. Some folks will blend to various degrees and with different methods - you can use another pastel, for example, and blend the new color into the colors underneath to a certain extent. Some artists may blend more on their initial layers of pastel and then leave the upper layers and final strokes with no blending to retain the purer color and "sparkle." Very minor blending can be used to soften harder edges.

Hope this helps.

Don

Srineet
10-28-2016, 03:55 AM
Many thanks Donna and Don. It is very good information and something that'll definitely help. Also thanks to the attached picture and the reference to Loriann Signori.

Also, if I may ask a follow up question here. Often, when talking about pastels, an analogy is drawn with oil paintings. Is there a corresponding "watercolour style" of pastels which has a lighter touch, uses the whites of paper, and uses more transparency? If yes, are there any examples to look at?

Thanks again!

- Srineet.

JustinM
10-28-2016, 06:50 PM
As has been mentioned, there's no real "rule" when it comes to blending. I do tend to blend parts of my paintings but others I dont. depends where I want soft vs. hard lines too.

interestingly, pastel master Daniel Greene has a few videos out of his process and in one he explains how he hasnt 'blended' with a finger, cloth or stump but he was 'blending' with the pastels. In other words, taking a similarly toned pastel & lightly running in over two other similarly coloured pastels almost like a soft burnish. This is actually how i do a lot of my pastel blending too.

Srineet
10-29-2016, 01:36 AM
Thanks Justin that is very interesting. Will find out more about that, and try it out.

- Srineet.

DAK723
10-29-2016, 10:58 AM
Many thanks Donna and Don. It is very good information and something that'll definitely help. Also thanks to the attached picture and the reference to Loriann Signori.

Also, if I may ask a follow up question here. Often, when talking about pastels, an analogy is drawn with oil paintings. Is there a corresponding "watercolour style" of pastels which has a lighter touch, uses the whites of paper, and uses more transparency? If yes, are there any examples to look at?

Thanks again!

- Srineet.
I don't know if there is a "watercolor style" of pastels, but pastels are a very versatile medium. While they can be used painting dark to light - which is where the analogy to oils comes from - they don't have to be. Since it is the softer brands of pastel that are more opaque and cover more easily, they are often necessary to work light colors over dark successfully. When using harder pastels or pastel pencils, then working light to dark is often the norm. It often depends on the subject matter and paper choice whether one can or wants to work dark to light.

Since pastels are so versatile, they are often considered both a drawing and a painting medium. While there are usually many disagreements as to what exactly separates drawing and painting, one possible difference is in how much paper is covered. With pastels - as in charcoal or pencil drawing - one can leave much of the paper uncovered. This often works well with a colored paper, but white paper can certainly be left showing. I used to do many figure drawings with pastel in this way - as have many others.

In other words, you can paint or draw pretty much any way you want with pastels!

Don

robertsloan2
10-29-2016, 07:25 PM
I sometimes sketch lightly and blend out gradients into white or light paper - or any color of paper really, since that's the advantage of pastels over watercolor. You can put light over dark with spectacular effects. I am most likely to do this with hard pastels and it's a looser, more sketchy style.

Blending crushes the pigment crystals and softens color, may mute it a little. Blending produces wonderful soft effects. It can also be used to draw attention to an area by blending areas of less importance and leaving the focal area unblended or adding final unblended strokes for intensity. It's very effective to blend only some areas.

Painting on velour board or paper is delicate but gives gorgeous smooth watercolor-like blending. You can get great effects but handle it very gently, it does not stand up well to shaking or knocking loose dust off.

Painterly effects done without blending can be spectacular, one thing that works great is scumbling. Light loose strokes over previous strokes give that lovely luminosity.

Play with different techniques and types of edges in small studies and test swatches. Try different papers and surfaces, different hardness of pastels as well as blenders. Consider getting some hard edges by masking with a piece of card and just blending away from that. Peeling labels off sticks, breaking them and using the side of the stick gives a painterly look.

You can also, always, brush out areas and rework them with pastels if you don't like what you got. It's fairly easy to put light over dark. Takes less planning than watercolor but you can get some of those smooth transitions and lively spontaneous effects.

The one factor no one but you can find out is your own hand - how you respond to these materials and what works for you to get the effects you want. Some people can work very lightly and make super soft pastels sing on unsanded paper without any blenders, just control pressure that completely. Others like me, tend toward a heavy hand and make bold marks, blend energetically, have trouble with the careful delicacy needed for some effects or need to use a different texture of pastels to get that effect than someone else. Best way to find out is try a little of everything.

SAS Designs
10-29-2016, 07:28 PM
Donna:
Just realized that Loriann Signori is the artist I LOVED in the Plein Air Feb/Mar 2016 issue Volume 5 issue 1. I'd loaned that issue to a friend, and she just happened to return it to me, with page 66 bookmarked. Article all about Signori!!!!

I love Plein Air, even tho' I'm not a plein air painter :)
suzy

Srineet
10-30-2016, 07:14 AM
Many thanks Rob for your reply. Gives me insight into what all is possible and how one can approach this question/topic. Will try out a few things and learn along the way. Thanks!

- Srineet.

stapeliad
10-30-2016, 12:47 PM
I think it's kind of a misconception that pastels need to be blended.

That.

Blending is something that comes up in oils a lot too.... pastel and oils are both very easy to blend, and there is definitely a misconception that a lot of work looks the way it does because of blending.

Blend sparingly. lay colors next to each other and soften the edges gently.
Blending is just a tool like any other...don't over-use it, and it will be very effective.

Srineet
10-31-2016, 06:14 AM
Thanks, this helps. It's good to know that all this primarily about softening edges wherever required, and blending is one of the (multiple different) ways to achieve that.

- Srineet.

Marilyn Ann
10-31-2016, 11:31 AM
In answer to your follow-up question in regard to thinking "water color technique" applied to pastel you might be interested in my current pursuit.

I have been combining watercolor with pastel this past year, using watercolor to produce a transparent ground and then developing the painting with soft pastels working from light to dark leaving the watercolor underpainting untouched for the lightest values. Something like working on colored paper but with a compositional structure of color.

I have been keeping a record of my discoveries on my blog, Marilyn Ann's Studio. You might enjoy following my explorations.

Continue to explore .

Srineet
11-01-2016, 04:40 AM
Many thanks Marilyn. I really like your idea of using the background wash and glow of watercolours and have it peep through the pastels. I started out a bit skeptical, but as I read through I think it is a lovely approach. Thanks again!

- Srineet.