View Full Version : Pastel Resurrection

07-06-2009, 01:37 PM
Now this is a watercolour, but don't get upset.


It is 48 x 36 cm and entirely done en plein aire in a fascinating yard belonging to my mate who collects lovely vintage machinery, vehicles and admittedly quite a lot of junk.

I have completely messed up the foliage as you can see. I am not worried about the marks and texture as that is OK, but due to my having the wrong tubes with me, I made do by a mix on the palette with what was available.

The greens are horrific so I intend to go in with soft pastel, as I don't mind mixing the media and after all I have a little used landscape set of soft pastels to hand. As there is quite a lot of it and I am a novice with pastels, would you suggest I go in with the darks then build to lights?

Having messed up the background I decided to leave the undergrowth in the foreground till later, but of course I could use the pastels there too.

Any tips for a learner please?

07-06-2009, 03:25 PM
Hi, what a lovely jumble of... er... junk? I'm totally floored by the glass reflections in the windscreen! The rusts against green bg glow.

I'd use a piece of paper to practice on, if you're basically a total beginner in pastels. Going from darks to lights is good pastel practice, but you can also go from midtones and darker/lighter.

I'd also advice you to at least block in the undergrowth in the fg, so it all gets a unified appearence. That is, if you plan to use pastels there too. Pastels tend to not cover the 'pits' of the paper so well, and having a base coat of wc will help a lot.

Good luck!


07-06-2009, 08:45 PM
I've done this with a watercolor in the past and one thing that helped me a lot was to paint two thin layers of clear Colourfix primer over it. This gives it a wonderful toothy surface, but the primer really is clear and you can see the underpainting anywhere that you don't cover over with pastels.

In watercolor it's sometimes a good idea to go dark to light. In pastels, you can sometimes put light over dark so it's not quite as important. Charlie's right -- test it on a scrap of the same paper with or without the primer. Another good primer is Golden acrylic pumice gel, though I don't yet know if that's as clear as the Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear primer.

07-07-2009, 03:18 AM
Thanks Robert and Charlie.

I do work dark to light on some watercolours, in fact this one was started this way after the foliage, Grr! That still angers me gettiong it so wrong and not stopping.

I haven't got the primers you mention and I will probably not buy them at this stage of my career, but the practice sheet is a good idea and the blocking in of the foreground will help to unify, as yes I am going to use pastels there too.

The structure in right foreground needs more work, but basically that will be cast and dappled shadows and with long grasses growing through the spaces.

07-07-2009, 08:49 AM
This is lovely so far! You got some good advice that I can't really add to, so I will just come back and see what you do with this. Tell your mate he's got some neat junk!

Donna T
07-07-2009, 09:59 AM
What a great painting already, Derek! Vintage junk is much more appealing than regular old junk. :) I wonder if you should add in any darks with watercolors first before you start adding pastel? Sometimes it's hard to get good coverage with pastels on watercolor paper if the lights from underneath are in the little pits of the paper. I can't wait to see what you do with this!


07-07-2009, 01:58 PM
Thanks Faelynn and Donna.

The blocking in of the foreground as mentioned will take a few darks, so that should help.

It won't be an exhibition piece, at least this year as my entries are already sorted. It's not commercial anyway, I might just give to my mate with the yard.

07-08-2009, 01:59 PM
Work done today in the lovely purpose built studio of my painting pal Paintpot.


Blocked in with watercolour below, then went in with various pastels but starting with a deep blue for the foliage darks. He loaned me that one, then I used the set I have. It is now somewhere near OK and I am now back at home with my ref photo to hand as I forgot it this morning. Will sleep on it and maybe do some more.

Paintpot insists I have overdone the foreground and spoiled the little cameo of wheels under the trailer, which I must say is my fave bit of the whole work, by overpowering it. I don't agree with him. Any thoughts?

07-08-2009, 02:06 PM
I think it looks great! I think you might try to boost your values a bit, by darkening the background a bit, especially the foliage closer to the ground. That will push your subjects forward. I don't think you overpowered the foreground at all! Nice job.

07-08-2009, 02:21 PM
Thanks FaeLynn and so quickly.

Looking at it now and with the ref pic available, you're dead right about the lower background. It's a tomorrow job at the earliest as I am tired and need a G&T before dinner.

07-09-2009, 12:53 AM
I've done what you're trying to do since I work in both mediums, and it didn't work so well for me because the wc paper is so bumpy couldn't blend the pastels right. BUT, if you don't like your look, you can turn pastels virtually into paint by blending them over with turpenoid & a brush (or even just water). Truthfully, I liked the original best.

07-09-2009, 03:16 AM
Thanks for your comments mud. It wasn't a problem blending as I didn't want a smooth finish.

My only thoughts now are maybe it's all too fussy but it is pretty true to life.

I may crop a lot off in the end, but it's not going on exhibition, it's an experiment now.

07-15-2009, 01:28 PM
My wife who is my greatest critic likes this lots now it is finished, saying it is vibrant. She thinks I should exhibit, so I just might do that. As it is pastel on watercolour, I won't fix it, but have a gutter mount behind the face mount to catch the dust.

Anyway, here it is, with darks darkened and some sky holes added in the foliage and a bit of light stuff in there too. No other changes, but I am happy with it now.


07-15-2009, 02:16 PM
I think it is terrific, and not overdone...but the green foliage behind looks SO dense it is almost like a stage set behind.

If you put a few sky holes here and there, and made the top edges a bit more "filigree", I think it would help a lot.

Otherwise, well done

07-16-2009, 03:38 AM
From you - praise indeed Jackie thanks. Will add what you say.

Donna T
07-16-2009, 10:08 AM
Very nice finish to this one!


07-16-2009, 10:21 AM
Thanks Donna, some tweaking to do as above.