Thursday, September 17, 2009

Experiments with Grounds - 9

"Swamp Colors"
8x10, pastel/panel

I'm still working in pastel this week and trying to nail down a good combination of materials for a pastel surface. Again, I took one of my oil painting boards (Ampersand Hardbord with three coats of Blick Master Gesso.) To this one I had already applied two coats of Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastel. Since I thought the Golden had a somewhat medium grit and wanted something finer, I decided to apply two coats of Art Spectrum Pastel Primer, the "rose grey" shade. Art Spectrum paper has a finer tooth, so I was hoping this would make the Golden surface even better.

I did one test without sanding the final surface. Alas, this made it almost impossible to put on enough pastel to fill the texture created when I brushed on the primer. I did a second test, this time sanding the board lightly. This much improved the surface. But I still found the texture too coarse, so I ended up finger-blending my first layer of pastel, spraying it heavily with workable fixative, and then continuing with my normal method. I was pretty satisfied with this surface, and you can see the final painting above.

Of course, preparing surfaces this way is a lot of work! Ordinarily, I would simply take a piece of hardboard and brush on two coats of the Art Spectrum primer, sand, and be done with it. By thinning the primer a bit, the brush would leave less texture. To tell the truth, though, I still have not found as satisfactory a surface for pastel as Wallis paper. Below are two paintings I did on Wallis this week, when I was weary of struggling with my homemade surfaces.

"Marsh Colors" 5x7, pastel

"Duck Pond Greys" 5x7, pastel


Anita Stoll said...

Luscious, lovely. I have been an admirer of yours for some time. Glad I found your site. Have you ever tried painting on suede mat board. It's worth a try believe me.
Check out my site.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, Anita! Haven't painted on suede mat board, but maybe some day. Enjoyed visiting your site!