Richard McKinley Pastel Underpainting

Pastel underpaintings are tricky.

You must lay color in very lightly. Harder pastels are better, but something like Sennelier has more pure color, but I made a mess of them, because they are so soft. You must watch for the amount of white mixed in the pastel; generally these are the foreign brands.

McKinley prefers to use water or OSM for pastel underpaintings, saying that some papers' acrylic binder reacts to alcohol. I have found that pastels dissolve more with alcohol and then spread better, but who's to argue with the experience of McKinley! Besides, I have had very little success with pastel underpainting, but I did find his non-paint by number version to work better than underpaintings done strictly by compliment or by value. McKinley suggests that underpaintings vary according to compliment and value within a single painting. I discovered one saying as especially handy: when in doubt, start with a pastel very close to the underpainting color.

The sun played fetch this day, coming and going with abandon. We were under a latticed porch which interfered with vision, so I took most of these while the sun was away.

Again, he does a thorough drawing to include values. Here he's using mounted Wallis.

This underpainting is one based largely on values and well as local color.

After the wash with water and a bristle brush...

Pastel is applied, but much of the left is preserved underpainting.

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