View Full Version : Watercolour with Pastel ...suggestions?

01-11-2006, 01:06 PM
Hi. I'm new to this so forgive any protocol errors. I'm a professional artist working in wc and pastel and recently started combining them. I've been working on Wallis, but the wc really dries too dull for my taste. I don't like the effect of pastel on wc paper either (140lb cold press, Arches). Any suggestions?

01-11-2006, 01:45 PM

You might want to check out Albert Handell's book, "Painting the Landscape in Pastel" (I think that's the title, but not sure of the exact words). He does a great many pieces as mixed media, specifically watercolor and pastel. I know that he does use Wallis paper for his work - and I believe it's the Wallis Museum paper. I know you mentioned that you don't care for the watercolor on Wallis or on watercolor paper...I'm not sure of another paper to try, but that may just be because I don't have much experience with watercolor. At any rate, you might want to check out Handell's book because he does a lot of successful pieces with the wc and pastel.

- Ann

01-11-2006, 01:46 PM
Hi Gallerygerl,

Albert Handell does watercolor with pastel. I don't know him personally and thus I don't know how amiable he is, but his web site is: http://www.alberthandell.com/mainpage.htm

It has a contact page on there, so why not drop him a line. It's worth a shot.

I've toned Wallis paper with gouache, which as you know is more opaque than watercolor and may be a better choice if you are finding that your watercolor is, pardon the pun, too washed out for your liking.

01-11-2006, 01:55 PM
the watercolor is really supposed to be the underpainting, to help achieve darks & add more life to the pastel colors you place on TOP of the watercolor..

01-11-2006, 01:58 PM
I've only done a few watercolor underpaintings for my pastels, but was happy with the results. My first one I covered up too much of the watercolor so on the second one, left more of it showing! I liked the effect -- I was painting on Wallis paper, did a somewhat sloppy watercolor trying only to achieve the background colors of masses of trees across a river, then the river colors -- so I was not really trying to achieve darks to paint on top of with the pastels.

Do keep giving it a try -- and this comes from someone that knows really nothing about watercolors. I was just winging it. I actually sold the second one I did!

Show us what you did -- that might help someone help you!

01-11-2006, 03:24 PM
I took a workshop from a well known local artist many years ago, and she uses this technique very successfully. She gave us a choice of used Arches cold press 140# or illustration board on which to do our watercolor. As Marsha said, the watercolor was primarily used to mass in undercolors, and then the pastel was applied over it. It seemed to work very well on either surface. However, I felt as though I was painting the same picture twice so never persued using this technique. Since then I've had many students who work both wc and pastel come into my classes and end up asking how to "improve" their watercolors. I let them bring their work to class, and we discuss where they might add some pastel to help with any number of problem areas. You can't add many layers of pastel to either surface, but you can add darks and lights tones, and the red of pastel is much more brilliant than the red of watercolor.

You might want to try the illustration board technique.


01-12-2006, 01:22 PM
Thanks everyone! I am using the watercolor as an underpainting, just thought it dried a too dull for my taste. However, I decided to change the color of the paper I started on...from a brown to the off white....and I'll see how that goes as that may have been the problem. I appreciate the comments, and will check out Mr. Handell. Thanks again! If you care to check me out, go to www.angelfireartspace.com and click on Katherine McDermott. Happy painting!

01-12-2006, 02:40 PM
I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but I tried watercolor underpainting and didn't like it much either. I then tried Kitty Wallis' method of using creatix pure pigment and I love that effect, the colors are bright and vibrant. My favorite so far though is to use pastels and turpenoid and scrub it in the wallis, like Bob Rohm does on his video.

01-12-2006, 06:48 PM
I also didn't like the washy watercolor, and now use alcohol to wash a pastel layer--something learned right here on wc! works super, and i don't need extras to work with, other than the alc. itself. and it dried way faster and flatter too. i use it on art spectrum paper, any color, but usually the lighter colors, since the little light 'pinholes' showing thru bug me.

01-13-2006, 11:59 AM
Hey, thanks. Way cool ideas that I haven't tried, since I was a watercolorist long before I fell in love with pastel. Thanks everyone!

01-13-2006, 07:40 PM
Chewie, Do you have a ref to any threads talking about washing pastel with alcohol or any demos you have done? (I don't use turps given all the fume-sensitive critters roaming thru the house.) Thanks!

01-14-2006, 01:03 PM
dr brad- use rubbing alcohol instead of turp., gotta think of the critters, i know...alcohol works fine i see no difference

01-16-2006, 04:58 PM
Hi there. Just checking in. The painting is underway...still with the wc underpainting based on tips from Albert Handell. I'll put it up when it's done. katherine

01-16-2006, 04:58 PM
Hi there. Just checking in. The painting is underway...still with the wc underpainting based on tips from Albert Handell. I'll put it up when it's done. katherine

01-16-2006, 07:16 PM
I'm really enjoying messing around with this- thanks for the tip.

01-16-2006, 09:49 PM
Katherine, I never tried doing the wc under pastel, but I just wanted to let you know that I checked out your work and I really liked it a lot. Beautiful florals and landscapes and your pet portraits are great also!

01-17-2006, 11:43 AM
Richard McKinley (a student of Albert Handel's) also uses a watercolor underpainting (I believe on white Wallis). He has a website you may wish to check out (Richardmckinley.com I believe). He leaves a considerable amount of watercolor showing under the pastels. I too have had a problem with the watercolor underpainting becoming too washed out on the Wallis paper. Perhaps I'll try the museum quality but I suspect it is operator error - that I just need to put more pigment on the paper because it dries at such a lighter value. I haven't used wc much before. More issues to solve.

01-17-2006, 11:52 AM
You are so right about the pigment you pick up for your watercolor. I am not a watercolor artist, but I have tried using it under my pastels and have found exactly what is being said -- how much lighter and "wimpy" it is. So . . . just use a darker wash of watercolor. Though, I have found that I really like using a middle value as the underpainting -- then I can judge by that to create lights and darks with the pastels! I also enjoy leaving some of the watercolor to show through.