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View Full Version : Help, lumpy colors and can't layer...


otherworlder
11-12-2017, 12:38 PM
I am just getting started with soft pastels and am having so much (unforeseen) troubles....

I am using the Mungyo gallery extra-fine and handmade pastels (their two best soft pastel lines) and colourfix paper.I just can't seem to produce an opaque, blended layer with lighter colors in some parts. No matter how hard I press the pastel pigments just seem to fall away, and an additional layer just scrapes the bottom layer away. Any attempt at blending brushes so much pigment off. No matter what I do the support is visible. I worked on black colourfix before (a while ago), using Sennelier, and didn't have any issue. I did take an eraser to the paper, is that why? But I would image even it's completely smooth black paper I should have that much trouble? Or am I doing something wrong? Any suggestion and comment would be greatly appreciated, thanks a lot!

(On the photo the problem doesn't look as serious. But basically look at the forehead part, on the actual work you can see so much black support...:crying: )

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Nov-2017/1968973-20171112105945.jpg

Donna T
11-12-2017, 04:22 PM
It's possible that you have erased the tooth of the paper and that's why your pastels won't stick. I have good luck with a kneaded eraser, pressing down and lifting away unwanted pastel. Any back and forth motion seems to remove those little particles of grit so it's best to avoid that. Do you have any workable fixative like Krylon? A light spray would restore toothiness to that area but be careful to mask off the surrounding areas first if you don't want them affected by the spray. Be sure to use light sprays, letting them dry between applications. If you don't want to use a spray you could try creating a web of cross-hatched marks with hard pastels (like NuPastels) if you have them. Sometimes that has worked for me and the softer pastels will stick better to hard pastel than to smooth paper. Good luck and don't get discouraged. Your painting is looking good so far!

otherworlder
11-12-2017, 06:08 PM
It's possible that you have erased the tooth of the paper and that's why your pastels won't stick. I have good luck with a kneaded eraser, pressing down and lifting away unwanted pastel. Any back and forth motion seems to remove those little particles of grit so it's best to avoid that. Do you have any workable fixative like Krylon? A light spray would restore toothiness to that area but be careful to mask off the surrounding areas first if you don't want them affected by the spray. Be sure to use light sprays, letting them dry between applications. If you don't want to use a spray you could try creating a web of cross-hatched marks with hard pastels (like NuPastels) if you have them. Sometimes that has worked for me and the softer pastels will stick better to hard pastel than to smooth paper. Good luck and don't get discouraged. Your painting is looking good so far!

Thank you so much Donna! I do have some workable fixative, I will give it a spray and then maybe come back to this piece in a few days.

In my frustration I started a new landscape piece on black colourfix; worked better, I think it really must be my vigorous erasing in the drawing phase... I think I got too ambitious to start a portrait with a new set of pastels and very little experience in soft pastel. I really should familiarize myself with the medium first.

DAK723
11-12-2017, 07:44 PM
I would avoid black paper if you are doing a painting where you really don't want the paper color to show through. The opacity of pastels is dependent on many factors - the ability of the paper to hold the pastel and the softness and covering power of the various pastel brands. Generally speaking, only the softest brands will be the most opaque. And pressing hard, even though it may seem like a good idea, is not the best way to apply pastels. All that will do is create far more particles that are not sticking to the paper!

As Donna mentioned, spraying with a fixative may help create a more suitable surface. The only fixative I would recommend is Spectrafix as it is non-toxic. if you are using any of the more toxic fixatives make sure that you are in a very well ventilated area (usually this means outside), and I would strongly recommend using a respirator.

In general however, I would definitely choose a paper color that will blend well with your subject.

Hope this helps,

Don

water girl
11-12-2017, 08:49 PM
If you have a bristle brush, sometimes that works to remove unwanted pastel without removing the texture of the paper. I generally go in with a Nupastel for the very first layer, then use my softies after that. Don't be discouraged, we've all been there.

otherworlder
11-12-2017, 10:30 PM
Don, thanks very much for the advice! My reference image had black background so I used black support thinking it would give me a nice contrasting background. Well... lol. Definitely will keep that in mind, using more suitable colored support next time.

Karen, thanks for the encouragement! Yeah, I am never taking a rubber eraser to a gritted pastel surface ever again.

soap
11-15-2017, 03:06 PM
I might be missing something but you say you've worked on a similar piece with Sennelier pastels and you didn't have the problem then? So perhaps just go back to Sennelier?