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Creating a Variety of Textures with Pastel

by Niki Hilsabeck in Recent Posts

The versatility of pastel: creating works with unique textures

 “Tropical Night” 17 x 21 Mixed Media on Paper
One of my favorite things about pastel is its versatility.  If I feel like following a time-tested, traditional method of using pastel, I can take out some textured paper and create a dry pastel painting.  If I feel like experimenting with pastel’s different effects, there are many choices available: using wet pastels, priming a surface with watercolor or acrylic, or using pastel as a finishing layer over an acrylic painting or collage.  
 In “Tropical Night,” you’ll see that there a variety of textures throughout the piece.  I create this effect by using a palette knife to “lay in” a basic painting.  After the acrylic has completely dried, I’ll break out the chalk pastels, and scrub them over the different parts of the painting to provide color and texture.  It;s always a bit of a surprise to see how the textures come out– I’m not totally in control of the effects as I paint, which is part of the fun!  I’ll occasionally layer a little acrylic back over the pastel if needed, which adds to the thick areas of texture throughout the piece.

 “Bouquet” 15.5 x 20 Pastel on Acrylic-Toned Paper

Other ways to create interesting texture with pastel include toning paper with different types of paint, or using different surfaces for your paintings.  “Bouquet” was painted on acrylic-toned Canson Canva-Paper.  The paper has the feel of canvas, giving the pastel strokes a scratchy effect.  Toning the paper with dark acrylic gave painting a soft, smudgy feel in some of the areas.  I hadn’t used this particular combination before this piece and had to rework it a few times, using water occasionally to blend some of the areas and lift off excess dust that clung to the acrylic.  
Experimenting with pastel techniques is always a bit of a gamble, but the surprising effects are often worth the risk.  I always feel that each piece has its own creative touch, making each painting a uniquely individual work of art. 

1 Comment

Wanted to leave a comment regarding your "Missing Out on Painting Time? These 5 Tips Will Help You Get Back to Your Easel" article that I found on Empty Easel. Spot on and insightful. Couldn't find a way to comment there and personally don't want to fb, tweet, etc. but wanted you to know that I thought it was great.

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