View Full Version : Glassless Pastel WIP

06-07-2007, 09:51 AM
Hi Folks!

Thanks to Tricia Messinger, Bill Creevy and sheer persistence, I have created a "glassless" pastel. It feels as hard as enamel and you can touch it without any pastel rubbing off. I will continue working in this fashion as well as with Wallis (I think a mix of glassless and "traditional" offers a nice choice). Any comments, suggestions are much appreciated! Thanks.

The glassless pastel below is from Furstenberg Park in Ann Arbor, MI. 12x16 done with soft pastels on treated oak board. I added a page on my website with further "glassless" works (see link below).


Donna T
06-07-2007, 10:02 AM
Hi Bob, nice pastels on your website! Glassless??? That's amazing! I won't ask how you did it in case you are planning to market your technique. There should be a lot of interest in this!

Donna T

06-07-2007, 10:04 AM
Bob, very nice. Love the colors. What makes it glassless? Could you share the process that you use?

Oops, looks like Donna and I posted at the same time. If you don't want to share the process, I understand.

Kathryn Wilson
06-07-2007, 10:22 AM
There were two different workshops at IAPS on this technique - or have you developed your own?

It would be great if you would share, but if you want it kept to yourself, that is understood too.

06-07-2007, 10:23 AM

Nice piece of work but isn't it a lot of work coating the board, sanding, re-coating, re-sanding, etc? I also work in acrylics and decided that it's a lot less trouble to just paint acrylic on canvas than it is to go the 'glassless pastel' way - I am also concerned over the sealing of the pastel against 'dirt intrusion, humidity changes, etc.' - I trust you have solved this problem and I'm wondering if you could share that with us - thank you kindly, sir.


06-07-2007, 10:49 AM
I'd sure love to hear what makes it glassless too! It may be a lot less trouble just to use acrylics, but I just don't *like* acrylics! Everything I've done with acrylics looks like a small schoolchild's daubs.

06-07-2007, 11:26 AM
I like the painting and the process.

The colors are very rich on the path and yet so beautifully subtle on the left side as you enter the woods. Nice tree and shadows.

Overall very nice! Barb

Doris Baggett
06-07-2007, 12:13 PM
This is very serene. Beautiful colors-so rich.

06-07-2007, 02:13 PM
Beautiful Bob,really beautiful

06-07-2007, 09:28 PM
I too would love to know whatyou mean by 'glassless"??

CJ :heart:

06-08-2007, 10:53 AM
Nice painting. I also don't like to use paint but prefer pastel. I've considered doing murals before but didn't proceed because of the painting aspect. I was thinking that this glassless method might be good for wall murals (except for the cost). My mother is thinking of buying a townhouse without many windows where a mural might be a nice alternative.

06-08-2007, 02:43 PM
i'm curious about this tooooo !! ... :)

06-08-2007, 07:15 PM
Very inviting scene...but I'm just curious of the title...

maggie latham
06-09-2007, 08:15 AM

Hello Bob,

Nice painting!

You must have really persevered with the technique as it was only a couple of weeks ago, that you e-mailed Trish!

I too have the instruction sheet, but have been trying the technique on Wallis paper mounted to gatorboard. Four paintings have become hideous messes. Working to an easel, the pva solution was running all over the place, and shifting all the pastel pigment like a watercolor wash! At one point I had to fix a lot of darks first with spray fixative before I sprayed the pva stuff.

Kind of defeats the object, don’t you think?

The drying time in between was so long, that I might have been painting in watercolor. One thing I like about pastels over watercolor is the immediacy and no drying time.

Maybe I have been doing the process wrong? The Gamblin size was a pva size for fabric, correct? And the solution 95% water to 5% size? Is it because I am working on Wallis paper rather that the plasterboard Trish talks about?

HELP!! HELP!! I’ve e-mailed Trish a couple of times, but she is either out of town, or has been bombarded with questions from people like us!

Any insight on why it worked for you and not for me would be great. I sometimes use acrylic matt medium on a pallet knife smeared over a pastel…but it can give it a mixed media look, and retains the plastic look of acrylic medium. I much prefer just a little fixative.



06-09-2007, 09:11 AM

I believe one of your problems is the Wallis paper is not porous, therefore the mess with the solution - the 'spackling mud' is very porous, allowing the solution and pastels to sink in -

Bob, since he has done this beautiful painting, should be able to further comment on your dilemma!

That's why I decided to go with 'acrylics' for work like this - I can just picture the mess you have and if you use the 'mud', all the mess from sanding, recoating, a mess in itself, again sanding - to much mess and work for this guy - I'll glass my pastels and acrylic my direct views! Let us know if you find a quick and clean solution - best of luck.........'bluefish';)

maggie latham
06-09-2007, 12:24 PM

Hello Bluefish,

Thanks for your input. You’re probably right about the Wallis paper, although Trish did say to me that she used to work this way on Wallis paper. I can’t even get any sense out of our Home Depot here either! I asked for Oak Door skin, and they showed me everything but … so many different surfaces. I certainly didn’t want to pay for a whole board to be cut up only to have the wrong thing! The guy at HD said that the joint compound would eventually crack and break of if it was being hung vertically. I think they thought I was nuts.

I love to experiment, but this is frustrating. I am back to my Wallis paper mounted to gatorfoam tomorrow…. sticking with what I know. I love Bill Creevy’s book, but sometimes it’s hard not to go off on tangents experimenting with this and that. Especially when I know I can produce a beautiful painting on Wallis and just fix it a little and frame it under glass. I always end up framing everything under glass anyway as I love the look of a mat on the artwork.

Can’t wait to hear what Bob has to say about the process.



06-11-2007, 06:50 AM
Hi Folks,

I've been gone for a few days but back and working toward preparing for the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I'm now working on my 4th "glassless" pastel. Let me try to respond here to various posts.

I too asked the staff at Home Depot for Oak Door Skin and they looked at me funny! Turns out that ordinary Oak Plywood, 1/8 inch think in 4x8 sheets, seems to do the trick (and use the oak side of it). That's interesting about the joint compound eventually cracking; I haven't seen any sight of that yet but the paintings are only a week old.

I haven't tried this on Wallis. The PVA is 5 PVA and 95 water (I have adjusted to 6-7 PVA too). As for spraying, make sure you get a running start spraying (i.e. start outside the painting) and sweep the spray through evenly, top to bottom). Keep a hair dryer handy and focus it on the painting, it should start to dry immediately and the colors will lighten (they darken initially). I had a little mess early on with dripping, but using the above approach should keep that contained.

You learn to take a different approach to value, kicking it all up a notch as the values will darken somewhat.

I would go with finer sandpaper (220 or higher) as sanding the surface of the dried joint compound will create striations in the surface that you will fight later on.

I have been doing an acrylic underpainting. Acylic is diluted with some water (10%?); more dilution will help the brush coast across the dry surface (I am not sure if too much water will create joint compound mush)!

I haven't gotten to the framing part yet. I think I will miss the mat but not the glass; we shall see!

Thanks for your questions. I don't get to visit Wetcanvas all that often due to other commitments, but please ask more and I will share more experiences as often as I can.


06-11-2007, 07:17 AM
Verticle Surfaces

Dry wall surfaces are verticle surfaces, not horizontal, therefore the spacking mud is designed for this type application and there should not be a problem with cracking! I've had spackled walls for many years without cracking in a verticle member - stress cracks at joints, yes, but that will happen with any material.

Bob - please keep us updated on the framing portion of your project, especially the 'seal coating' of the 'glassless pastel'!


06-11-2007, 07:46 AM
Nice painting and a very interesting thread! Looking forward to hearing more about your method and the time and effort that is needed..... Donna R.

maggie latham
06-11-2007, 07:51 AM

Dear Bob, and Bluefish,

Thank you for answering my questions. I will still persevere and try this out, as I am more than fascinated. Home Depot is like an alien place to me! Too much wood and too many options. Give me an art supply warehouse, any day!
I also can't stand the noise of the hairdryer. I like things quiet and calm when I paint!
When I get my first pastel painted using this technique, I will post it to show you all.

Good luck with your art fair, Bob.


06-11-2007, 08:19 AM

maybe you should try 'Lowe's'!:lol:

keep us updated, - it will be fun to hear your trials and tribulations!:clap:


maggie latham
06-11-2007, 08:37 AM
Hello Bluefish,

Home Depot is the only option down here. We are 150 miles from the mainland! I think it’s time to get off this computer and start painting!!!!

06-15-2007, 07:34 AM
Hi Folks;

Below is a photo of 3 pastel paintings. The one on the upper left was done on Wallis professional grade and framed with a raised mat and glass (the traditional approach). The paintings to the right and below were both done as "glassless." I chose to frame one painting with a simple wood frame (no glass), and to leave one painting unframed. The hanging mechanism for the unframed painting consists of 2, 1/2-inch pieces of oak molding attached to the back of the oak board with wood glue (see photo) with screw-eye's inserted in the end of each piece and the hanging wire connecting the molding pieces. I am pleased with the "glassless" approach and now I plan to work in a bigger size (do I dare a 4ft x 8ft piece, the size of the oak plywood that I paint on)?

Bob Palmerton


This is the hanging mechanism for the unframed painting (pretty simple):


06-15-2007, 10:19 AM

thank you for the excellent write up and pictures of your 'glassless' pastel paintings -

question - did you seal the surface of the 'glassless' pastel in any manner? i.e.-how do you stop air born dirt and humidity from entering the surface of the 'glassless' pastel surface?

hint - when you paint the 4'x8' glassless pastel, have some way to hang it besides the little blocks of pine glued with wood glue - the customer will have to have a crane to lift it onto the wall:lol: - we will be waiting patiently to see this WIP!............'bluefish:cool: '