Art Demos

Using One Color? Yes, One Color

Using One Color? Yes, One Color

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Pastel Prompt #298: Monochrome It

When I say pastel prompt in one color, I really mean discover the power of monochrome! In this simple exercise below, Dawn Emerson shows how working with color on a solo basis can enhance your ability to understand and use value changes in your art.


• Soft pastels: three values (light, mid, dark) of one color
• Charcoal full value mass drawing
• Razor blade
• Color wheel

Step 1

Choose light, middle and dark values of one color, such as light pink, pink and dark pink. Using the side of your pastel stick, lightly add the dark pastel over all the dark value areas of a charcoal underpainting you create.

Avoid the urge to blend with fingers, erase or smear. Vary the directions of your pastel strokes as you build up layers of pigment. Use the tip of the pastel to create masses of lines (called “feathering”). Develop the figure and ground simultaneously, and when you are satisfied, take a photo.

Step 2

Repeat this process using the midtone color value over the areas that are midtones in the charcoal underpainting. Take a photo.

Step 3

Repeat for the lightest value using the lightest pastel stick. Take a photo.


• Observe the monochromatic image you’ve created in the camera and compare this to your
charcoal photo.

• Turn the photo into a black-and-white version to see how your values are working. If you need to lighten or darken anything, you can go in and remove or add pastel or charcoal.

This is just one of the dozens of pastel prompts featured in Dawn Emerson’s Pastel Innovations Painting Guide along with essential materials and tips, inspirations on compositions, underpainting know-how and creative techniques that will let your love of pastel grow along with your skills with it.

Get your Pastel Innovations Painting Guide now, and start enjoying today!

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