The objective was to try out different substrates for pastel painting. I ordered some different papers and pastel cards, but they don’t arrive until later this week. I couldn’t wait so I just used what I had in my stash. I used Ingres drawing paper and a small piece of La Carte that was in my Sennelier box of pastels.
This time I only used Sennelier Soft Pastels.
Substrate A: Ingres Paper/Blue
Right away I noticed that I had almost NO control of the pastel on the Ingres paper. I tried to work lightly knowing that I wouldn’t be able to add a lot of layers, but I felt like I was fighting the pastel every step of the way in order to render this scene (I used several reference photos and a thumbnail sketch to refer to during my painting). The best way I can describe it is that the soft pastels on this type of paper felt like working on glass.
Substrate B: Sennelier La Carte/Brown
Working on the La Carte pastel card was such a difference. The pastel clung to the surface, and I felt that I could get some detail without sacrificing expressiveness. And the process felt more like painting than drawing, if that makes any sense.
Plus I liked the sound my pastels made as I worked. Is that weird? To be honest, when I work with graphite/charcoal/conte pencil, the experience is better if I can hear my pencil softly on my paper as I work, too.
It probably IS weird, but what can I say?
Takeaways from this lesson:
- I liked working on a sanded surface a lot!
- For the type of work I want to do, I would mainly work with soft pastels that are slightly harder than the Senneliers (and I have a 15 half-stick set of Rembrandts coming in the mail next week!), and then supplement with softer and harder pastels for different effects.
- Working with pastels, I have to let go of “preciousness” in my work – I don’t have to render every single detail, but the detail I do render has to have a lot of visual meaning to make sense in the piece. This is something I need to practice, and hopefully with time my skills will improve!
The Pastel Place
The Pastel Place is the course I’m taking from Sophie Ploeg, an oil and pastel painter based in the UK. I will do a full review of the course when I finish it, but I wanted to mention it now because already I’m getting so much out of this course. And this is only part of the first few lessons (click here for my previous post)! Check out the course, and be sure to read her blog – so much good information!