Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Working with the Very Softest Pastels

Last summer, when I was teaching a pastel workshop in St Andrews, NB, a student challenged me to use only soft pastels in a demonstration. I usually start off with hard pastels and then wash in the pigment with Turpenoid before moving on to the softer sticks. Could I skip the hard pastels?

We were painting on Minister's Island. Back in the late 1700s, this scant bit of land was home to the first Anglican minister of St Andrews. The island was -- and still is -- accessible by foot or wheeled vehicle only at low tide, when the receding water reveals a gravel bar that connects it to the mainland. (At high tide, you can take a boat.) My subject for the demonstration was the stone cottage the minister lived in.

I used the 80-half-stick "landscape" selection from Sennelier. You can't get much softer than these pastels! They require a very light touch, especially when using the aggressively-toothed Wallis Sanded Paper. This painting has a thick, rich build-up of pastel.

"Stone Cottage, Minister's Island"
9x12, pastel, en plein air

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