View Full Version : Coverage?

12-06-2000, 06:50 PM
Ok, I give up. I'm having a hard time (ie no success at all) at getting good coverage with pastels. I've read a few books, and they all warn against building up too much and losing tooth, etc. But at the same time I can't seem to keep the paper from showing through. I'm using Canson pastel paper and Winsor & Newton pastels. I assume I'm supposed to be using the toothy side of the paper. Am I just not applying enough pastel? Or is the paper supposed to show through? Help!



12-06-2000, 07:30 PM

Here are some things to try, since I can't see your actual painting:

1. If this problem is on Canson paper try using the "felt" side. The dimpled side is more difficult to cover.

2. Your pastels may be hard even though they are "soft" pastels. Try a couple of different brands that are even softer than W/N.

3. Try using a paper that has a medium value, that way all your colors will "read" yet still allow for good coverage. Avoid using white paper if you want to really cover the paper.

4. Don't bear down on the pastel. Use lightly at first to cover the surface then slowly buildup and eventually add more pressure to cover more fully.

5. If using a board rather than paper, use acrylics or watercolor to really cover the paper in the value/hue you want then just skim the surface with an application of pastel to liven the area with color.

6. Try to work from darkest colors to the lightest colors. If you work with the darker/richer colors over light ones you risk getting a cloudy, muddy effect. The highest highlights or lightest colors should be applied last for best coverage in those areas.

7. If your goal is real solid coverage, blend. Lay-in a layer of pastel and gently blend into the tooth of the paper (with something other than your fingers...oil from your fingers will resist the pastel from sticking to the paper surface.) Lightly spray with fixative, then reapply other layers of color over top to increase coverage.

8. You may need to go to a heavier surface such as a prepared board to give you more tooth to work with. Then you can really build up color for a longer time.

Hope this helps http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

Paintings by L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com)
Workshops for 2001 (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops)

12-06-2000, 07:49 PM
AHA!!! Been using my fingers to blend. Q-tips or rags are ok, right? Thanks Diane!



12-06-2000, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by cmorrow05:
I'm using Canson pastel paper and Winsor & Newton pastels. I assume I'm supposed to be using the toothy side of the paper.
One side of the paper has an obvious regular texture which looks kinda like orange peel - use the other side.

best wishes


12-07-2000, 04:48 AM
Don't forget that when you blend you are removing pastel as well as spreading it around. So, keep adding layers.

And that reminds me. I've found a great item for blending large areas (and small ones):

leather finger cots

(They DO look like someone snipped the ends off some light grey gloves :P)

You can get them at Dakota Art pastels and they are a godsend! Not only do they keep your fingers clean and the oil off your painting, but they work great on sanded surfaces! No more erased skin! (I've even bled from time to time. The surface of the Wallis is very misleading :P)

I like to use the side of my pinky finger, so I put the finger cot on my pinky sideways -- so that the seam is on top and bottom of my finger. You can even use the seam edges to get some fine lines. Once the pastel color builds up on the cot, it takes less and less added pastel to blend.

They wash up well with Master's soap, too. Even the dark pastel laiden ones.

You can read about them on the Dakota site Under "MISC" and "SAFETY". They cost $5.95 for 5.

For small areas or lines, I use Colour Shapers. Rubber tipped and pretty resilient. They do remove a lot of pastel tho. I've used them pretty extensively on sanded and I've yet to wear one out.

They come in various shapes and sizes and many vendors sell them. You can read about them at Dakota under "MISC" and "TOOLS". My favorites are the taper points, cup chisel and the flat chisel.

<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Is dił nach gabh comhairle, 's is dił ghabhas gach comhairle.</FONT c> --
<FONT size="1">Who won't take advice is worthless; who takes all advice is the same. (Scots Gaelic proverb.)</FONT s>

RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

12-07-2000, 05:46 AM
Ditto, on the other remarks Colleen;

Although I don't use Canson very much anymore, about all pastelists including myself have preferred the "feltlike" side of the paper. Some like to let some of the paper's color show through as kind of an "underpainting"; like a warm color to give an overall warmth to the piece.
In regards to blending, I usually like to blend with one color into another. Other times I may use a paper stomp to blend colors in a shadow area to try to give a feeling of transparency, or use the stomp to soften edges. Ken


12-07-2000, 07:50 AM
This may sound silly, but I even use packing peanuts to spread my pastels...and soften them up. They are nice because you can shape them to whatever shape you would like with a little knife. They are nice and thick so you can easily hold on to them when you are blending in a background with nice broad strokes. I save all my packing peanuts and use them all the time.

Another nice way of blending is to use a Q-tip...this will also cover your paper well. In small areas of course. But I agree with the person who uses a medium toned paper...that will be the best solution...there is nothing wrong with letting some of the paper show through. I happen to like that effect in pastel. I will be posting a painting..hopefully this weekend with one I did from the Maine coast...it has alot of paper showing through. I picked a bluish grey paper. It is turning out nicely...only have a few things to touch up.

Good luck with your painting...hope to see some of it soon!!


12-07-2000, 08:31 AM
I like letting some of the paper show through. I use white paper almost exclusively, and I find that the little flecks of white showing through in places make for a lively surface. With experience, I find that I can control this effect, so that some areas are more dense and some more open. It changes the way light reflects off the page, which affects the way the colors and textures are perceived.

If you are looking for denser coverage, though, you probably need softer pastels. Try Senellier or Schminke.

Barry Katz

12-07-2000, 08:32 AM
Also, I always blend with my fingers (when I blend at all) and haven't had any problems with adhesion.

Barry Katz