View Full Version : 3 little experiments

Donna T
02-23-2008, 03:24 PM
Hi everyone, I'm having such a hard time getting inspired lately so I've been playing with my pastels and thinking of new ways to use them. These little pieces are all done on scraps of white Colorfix paper.

For the first one I wanted to see if masking fluid, leftover from my watercolor days, would save the white of the paper. I also wondered if the rubbing alcohol I use to tone the background would dissolve the masking. Here's what it looks like with the masking applied (those yellowy flower blobs) and my alcohol underpainting:
No problem with the alcohol. Here it is with the masking removed:


For the second one I found some 1/4" masking tape leftover from my quiliting days. I used to use it to make nice, straight lines with hand-quilting. I laid it over a scrap of paper that was toned with my usual alcohol mist:


Now I added pastel to the remaining areas and brushed it in with alcohol. It didn't seem to bother the tape at all. Here's what it looks like with the tape removed:


For the last one I found a piece of lace in my sewing box and used it like a stencil. I liquified some easel dust with alcohol and dabbed it on with an old brush. Here's my "Lace Tablecloth".


These were fun and made me feel like I was at least doing something artistic while I wait patiently for inspiration (and decent weather) to return. Thanks for looking!

02-23-2008, 04:49 PM
Those are interesting and good things to know. It is nice to know these things work and what they work like. Good job I really like the top and the bottom ones best.


Adriana Meiss
02-23-2008, 05:08 PM
These are great ideas! I like the second and third ones the most. The second one lends itself to some abstract work...
What's you usual alcohol mist?

Deborah Secor
02-23-2008, 05:12 PM
Kewl! The lace idea appeals to me...though where I'd find a scrap of lace remains in question! I tried to paint lace once. Once. Only. Ever.



Donna T
02-23-2008, 05:22 PM
Hi Randi-lee, Adriana and Deborah. Thanks for the comments, I was just in one of those moods and wanted to see what turned out.

Adriana, I have alcohol in a little perfume atomizer and it goes on in a very fine mist. Usually I dry-brush the pastel into the tooth first. Since I sometimes work on Wallis, which gets kind of gummy if you brush alcohol around on it for too long, this works well for me.

Deborah, I think I tried painting lace once in watercolor ... never again! This was just some cheap lace trim I had from some long ago project.

02-23-2008, 06:19 PM
Wow, Donna! These are really neat! The first one makes me think of an underwater scene. The second, an exciting abstract. And the third is very lovely too. I think the second is my favorite.

I think it's fun to pull from past work into the present work, as you pulled on your resources from watercolors.

I will have to try the alcohol mist. I guess it would work on Colourfix as well as Wallis.

Thank so much for sharing these!


02-23-2008, 07:10 PM
That was neat, Donna-- thanks for sharing your experiments. You know, I really miss the old weekly Pastel Sketch thread-- it followed the Oilies when they moved. We had a lot of fun trying out things without having to commit to a full-fledged painting. I wonder if we could start one here for us dusty finger folks? I'd love to see more of this kind of thing!

Dayle Ann

maggie latham
02-23-2008, 08:55 PM

Wow! Great experiments. You are a fellow artist after my own heart! :) I really think experimenting like this is fantastic, and pushes us as artists out of our 'safe zone'. My pastels are all packed up right now, so I only have a tiny kit of watercolors for a few months, but I can’t wait to get back to the dust.

Thought I would share this little story. Lately I have felt that my own watercolor work in particular is getting a little too experimental and a touch too abstract for my liking, and I have been pondering ways and exercises to get me back on track with composition. I was searching for something on Amazon last week, and came across a watercolor book by Nita Engle. As we are moving and everything is packed my husband heaved a big sigh when I ordered it!:lol:

To cut the story short, I actually began reading the book, and low and behold she works in a very loose intuitive way with color, but brings her paintings back with some great compositional elements. I was astounded…because right in front of me was the inspiration and sharing of knowledge on the very subject that I need to focus on right now.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, that experimenting like you have done here will definitely spur you on to greater things…(as I know my own watercolor experiments will for me) even if you don’t incorporate any of the techniques you have been learning in your painting just yet.

Getting back to pastels, I always marvel at the (sometimes off the wall) pastel techniques in Bill Creevy's book ….The Pastel book. I have read and re- read chapters of that book, and always find something new and inspiring. He must be THE pioneer in pastel experimentation. If you don’t have it, I would really recommend it, as a source of inspiration for doing more experiments with pastels…

I too would love to see the weekly pastel sketch thread back. I really loved looking at everyone’s ‘quickies’. Maybe we should just pick a different subject for each week or month? When I am moved and settled in a few months I would gladly lend a hand if the hosting needs to be shared.
I’m rambling….but one last thing, why don’t you spend a whole week or even a month doing nothing but experiments? You might learn some more wonderful things, and possibly be able to have completed paintings from them too. I bet at the end of it you will painting wonderful paintings again and be lifted out of your inspirational blues.


Donna T
02-23-2008, 10:40 PM
Judith, Hi and thanks! I did all of these on Colorfix and the alcohol never seemed to affect it in any way. You can put it on in puddles and push it around with a brush and the surface doesn't change. I like the abstract possibilities for the second one, the tape, also. Adriana also mentioned that ... I hope one of you has what it takes to do abstracts. I see possibilities for abstract paintings everywhere but I have no clue how to do them! :confused:

Dayle Ann, Thanks, glad you like the idea of little studies. There sure isn't any pressure to produce a work of art and sometimes you get interesting surprises. I never did the Sketch Thread before but it would be a good place to post little "no-stress" paintings.

Maggie, So nice to hear from you! I knew you were moving but weren't sure which side of the Atlantic you were on at the moment. I remember admiring Nita Engle's work when I was trying to learn watercolors. How wonderful that you found the exact information you were looking for! Bill Creevy's book was the first pastel book I bought - I really admire his experimental style and his mixed-media pastels are incredible. It sounds like there is interest in bringing the Pastel Sketch Thread back. I like your idea of changing the theme on a weekly or monthly basis. It would encourage people (like me) to do subjects that are usually avoided. Maybe you're right about spending more time doing experiments. I know I get too stressed out trying to do something worthy every time I pick up a pastel and I feel like a failure when I brush it all off and start over. With the little experiments I have a good laugh and always learn something. Besides, it's worth it to see the look on my husband's face when he asks what I'm doing with lace, tape and alcohol. :)


Donna A
02-24-2008, 01:19 AM
Hi, Fellow-Donna! I love your experiments, as well! They are each so interesting and creative! Some wonderful effects! Just have to say for some of them---"who woulda thought...." :clap: Pretty excellent! Thank you soo much for sharing these! I hope these bring some wonderful fresh excitement into your inspiration and ideas for new paintings! You've certainly given us some great excitement and inspiration!!! Thanks so much! Very inspired best wishes! Donna ;-}

02-24-2008, 01:24 PM
What was fun about the sketch thread was the total randomness of it: it was whatever folks were fooling with that week. (Well, often there seemed to be an emphasis on food...) The only rule was less than an hour.

Personally, I liked the really quick ones best: I learned so much from seeing what other people were experimenting with, and you could see the "bones", as it were. The oilies still have their weekly sketch thread going, and I drop in over there once in a while to peek... but of course, can't post because I don't work in oilies! I liked the mix, and the interaction, and wish we could somehow still share that thread. Oh, well.

But agree, maybe some of us could band together and share the responsibilities of starting and "moderating" a softy sketch thread. Mods, whatcha think?

Dayle Ann

Donna T
02-24-2008, 02:39 PM
Hi Donna A! Thanks! I hope someone might be inspired by some of these goofy ideas. They might be neat for backgrounds where a little interest is needed or as parts of abstract paintings. There has to be some use for them ... :lol:

Dayle Ann, Let me know if the Sketch Thread gets revived and I'll host for a week now and then. It really would be good to just post little studies and quick sketches.


02-24-2008, 04:03 PM
I completely love what youv'e done in these experiments, it's amazing how the mind works with such talented people. All three of these experiments are so different from each other, masking fluid and alcohol - who would of thought about trying that with pastels, and the masking tape experiment, makes for a great looking abstract, the lace experiment - I have to try that one myself, I have always wanted to try and do lace, but to scared to even try. Thank you for sharing these experiments with us.

02-24-2008, 04:18 PM

Really interesting! I think I'll try some of those!
I have little misters for watercolor painting, so I'll put some alcohol in one.
The masking tape and lace are interesting, too.
Thanks for the ideas.

02-24-2008, 07:22 PM
Some terrific experiments Donna! I really loved the lace one. Thanks for sharing these with us.

02-24-2008, 07:38 PM
Great experiments! I'll have to try the masking fluid - I do watercolors as well so have plenty on hand. Your masking tape one reminds me of how we just to make birch trees in watercolor by tearing the masking tape like in half and then painting over and removing to add the texture of the birch.
Thanks for sharing

Donna T
02-25-2008, 08:37 AM
Thank you Willemke, Elsie, Pam and Carolyn. I hope you might try some of these sometime - if only for some fun. I'm sure there are lots of other creative ways to use pastels ... someone just needs to think of them!