View Full Version : Bearded Face

08-30-2004, 10:50 AM
Hi all,

I paint mostly in oils, and am relatively new to pastels. I am working on a pastel portrait and am ready to "tackle" the beard. My question is: When adding the lightes whiskers over the skin tones and darker undertones of the beard, should I spray a fixative first? If not, would the light layer dig into the darker layer and become muddied? Hope I explained my question clearly enough. Also, here, I hope, is the ref pic....


08-30-2004, 04:09 PM
Hi Larry,
The technique you use will depend upon the approach you take. If you are a photo-realist in your painting, perhaps you'll want to try fixative (personally I've never done so). However, if you are looser in your approach, a very soft pastel handled carefully should attempt the look you are achieving. I'd highly recommend taking a separate piece of paper first and trying out the procedure first. What you will find in using fixative (in my experience) is that the colors will totally darken and flatten out and it really changes the painting completely. Again - doing a sample sheet may be most beneficial. Barb

Deborah Secor
08-31-2004, 01:51 PM
Hi Larry, nice to meet you and welcome to the soft pastels forum!

Barb has already given you a great suggestion to practice on a separate sheet of paper. A lot depends on what paper and pastels you're using, too. For instance, if you work on a woven paper, such as Canson Mi-Tientes, using harder pastels, such as Nu-Pastels or Rembrandts, you night need to spray a bit of fixative. If you work on a deep sandpaper, such as Wallis, using soft pastels, such as Schminckes, you have some depth to play with and might not need fix. One thing to remember is that fix makes the colors dark and can often add a weird textural effect that can be disturbing. I choose not to spray fix unless I absolutely have to--and most often I can get by without it.

Sometimes it's good to structure your painting so that you reach down into the lower layers and use the colors found there to create texture (such as in a beard) by laying another color on top. You might look at the ESP (Explore Soft Pastels) thread to see several techniques--scumbling, glazing, and feathering. Not quite the same as in oil painting--but similar in some respects. You'll find that oils and pastels are structured similarly.

Our Pastel Reference Library is a treasure trove of information. Let us know what paper and pastels you're using, &/or show us a WIP and maybe we can direct you to more specific answers there, or help you here.


09-01-2004, 06:20 AM
Barb, Deborah,

Thanks for the advise. I'll post a wip when I get started. I have some samples of Wallis paper and would really like to try this painting on that, so I may wait until I get an order. In the meanwhile, I do have some Canson paper. I am using Nu-Pastels. I only have a couple of soft pastels, and really need to get some. I have been reading the threads about different brands----gets a little confusing. But so was oil paints at first. :)

Is there a way to sharpen them without so much waste?