Underpainting with pastel

My normal painting style is to go outside, open my stool, open my French Companion, open my KOOOL Binder, do a quick sketch, and paint. I paint like I think: directly. The sun is moving; my style is loose; it all fits.

Working in the winter with pictures makes me fret about representation much more. Although I do know better, but if the picture says it, then it must be so. And I fuss over the details. I am out of my element.

I think operating outside of my element is strengthening, though.my instructor generally works with some sort of underpainting or preparation. One such preparation would be the pumice surface, similar to my Poppies in the Rough. Another means of underpainting is using pastels and painting them in. I used water here on white Wallis, but you could use alcohol or turpentine substitutes on any surface that will accept a wet medium. In a few weeks, I'll show a watercolor underpainting. I also hope to try the oil underpainting done by Richard McKinley, although he discusses pastel underpaintings here. (This is one of his most beautiful paintings and at his blog you can be privy to the underpainting supporting it.)

Here is my reference picture, taken from the car on the way to Monterey, CA.

My values drawing is a very simple thumbnail sketch. The right side will have a few extra mounds installed for balance.

Here are four shades of red colored into their values spot. The three darkest are hard ones from a Van Gogh set. It lacked a light one, so that is borrowed from the French Companion of Mystery. Shades of red work well as a compliment to the green landscape.

In this shot, just the dark value has been wet. I used water with an inexpensive Chinese calligraphy brush.

Here, the middle two values have been wet. Notice, I'm not letting each dry before doing the next. Drips are good and hard edges are not.

I like these great cauliflowers, which in different circumstances could be disastrous. Knowing my style, however, they'll be covered up. If I were looking for a lake reflection, it might be a different case.

The whole piece is wet, but dried fairly quickly. I think the Van Goghs came out rather grainy. I might try a different brand next time or see how it works with alcohol or terp.

Goodness, the reference photo is so much prettier than this!

Since this stage, I've begun layering pastels over the reds, although I keep forgetting to leave some underpainting showing through. Discombobulated, I feel like I'm doing a paint by numbers! Although I have done this before, sometimes it takes practice when one moves beyond one's comfort zone.

Tomorrow is the MAPAPA Annual Meeting with a Paint Out from 7-9am. The weather looks to be a clear 37 degrees, which is much better than the 20 degrees I was fearing from earlier in the week. Despite having my spiffy EasyL Pro, I plan to do pastels and am bringing the coarse pumice paper in light orange in two sizes as well as KOOOL Binders in two sizes, prepared for whatever this Londontowne MD location offers. Yeah, go back to reread my first paragraph. I'll be in my zone.


ariel freeman said...

Thank you for sharing your process Bonnie. I am out of my comfort zone with plein-air painting. But I know I need to try it.
Happy Painting.

Bonnie said...

I hang out w/several people in NOVAL (see sidebar) who do watercolors en plein air. When it's nice, we meet on the third Saturday. They'd be great for you to see in action. I'm the only pastelist who goes out; I haven't seen anyone else doing oils w/NOVAL, either. I'll whip out both media this Spring.

I'd really like to go to watch and possibly participate in the Riverbend, Easton, and Annapolis Paint Outs this year. They're large scale and very competitive.