Category Techniques and Tips


Techniques and Tips

Protecting Unframed Pastels

Question: When you’re finished with a pastel, how do you keep it protected until you frame it? How do you transport it from the site where you’re working and how do you store it?Answer: Due to the fragile nature of pastel, extra caution needs to be employed when storing and transporting our paintings—either home from a day painting or to the framer.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Do You Work With Hard Pastels First?

Since artists first applied sticks of pigment to surface, they’ve experimented with a variety of techniques. With alla prima oil painting, meaning “all at once,” it’s imperative to work thinly in the initial application, working up to heavier layers as the painting progresses. With each layer of application, the volume of paint becomes heavier and thicker, gently interacting with the one below.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

A Painterly Approach to Drawing

One of the methods pastel artists often use to place an initial drawing on their pastel surface is to use a graphite pencil. Painters traditionally rely on shapes of value and color to define the painting instead of the line of the draftsman (another topic in itself). One way of keeping the attitude of a painter is to use a brush and make things soluble.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Underpainting With Oil Paints

Starting pastel paintings with a thin, wet, loose underpainting is something many artists enjoy. Depending on the medium used and the surface it applied to, it can have a variety of appearances.Personally I have utilized some form of underpainting from the earliest years of my painting adventure. Thin watercolor and oil washes have becoming two of my favorites.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

The VALUE of Notan

In the previous blog post “Light as it Falls on Form,” I discussed the use of value relationships as a means of creating the sculptural aspects of representational painting. For this post, I’d like to talk about the use of value as an element within the compositional layout of a painting. In Japanese, Notan means “dark/light”.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

A New Surface for Pastels

One of the pleasures of pastel is its ability to be placed on a wide array of surfaces, producing a variety of appearances. A couple of weeks ago, I was at Dakota Art Pastels in Mount Vernon, Wash., teaching a workshop. As I entered the warehouse for an afternoon of pastel indulgences, Robyn Williamson and Craig Lemley (owners of Dakota Art Pastels) asked me to try out a sample of a new paper called Pastelmat, which is being introduced in the U.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

A Vist to Dakota

I recently took a trip to Dakota—Dakota Art Pastels, that is, in Washington state. Visiting here is like a holy experience for many of us who remember the “Dark Ages” of pastel when there were only one or two pastel brands available and surfaces were scarce.Well, we’ve come a long way. With a national magazine, The Pastel Journal, and the proliferation of pastel societies hosting and promoting the medium, pastel can now take its place as a major force of artistic expression.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Easel Position to Subject

A question from Lisa Stauffer, “When you work outside, how do you position your easel to the subject?”Thanks for the question. The most important thing that governs my easel subject placement is “Dominant Body Side.” Are you right- or left-handed? Depending on your predilection, this can play a major part in the decision as to where to place your easel.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

The Shutter Speed of Our Eyes

Since the advent of photography, artists have been intrigued by its possibilities. Even the devoted plein air artist usually has a trusty camera at their side. We tend to accept a photograph as fact whereas a painting is held up to greater scrutiny. Confronting this prejudice and acquiring a basic understanding of how photography compares to the human eye, can prove invaluable when attempting to produce representational paintings.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Framing Without a Mat

Many pastel artists are abandoning traditional mat and frame presentations and replacing them instead with wide wood frames. This is especially true when anti- or low-reflection glazing is utilized, like Tru Vue brand AR and Museum Glass. Many prominent galleries are encouraging this presentation and most national pastel exhibitions are seeing entries framed in this manner.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Downsizing a Palette for Travel

Whether attending a class or working en plein air, it can be advantageous to have a smaller downsized palette instead of trying to transport an entire studio. But, with so many pastels to choose from (mind you, I’m not complaining), it can be a difficult task to narrow it down.All artists’ palettes need to facilitate the three aspects of color: hue, the individual color family; chroma, the intensity or saturation of said color; and value, the relative lightness or darkness of said color.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

A Warm Undertone

In representational landscape painting, one of the most universal practices is to begin the painting on a warm brownish undertone. Working on a toned surface helped to create a balance between overly light paintings produced on a white surface and overly dark paintings begun on a near black surface.Since painting is a visual exercise, we respond to what we see in front of us.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Mounting Pastel Paper

Wonderful questions keep coming in to the blog and I hope to answer many in the future. When deciding whether to do it ourselves or whether to have it done professionally, we must consider cost versus archival standards.Expense is always a concern, especially when we’re experimenting and going through a lot of paper, but certain techniques simply require the use of mounted paper.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

When Homemade Is Best

We’re fortunate to be painting in a time when there are so many wonderful pastel surfaces commercially available. But even with the proliferation of available surfaces today, there are times when a homemade surface fills the bill.To create a homemade, sanded pastel surface, you’ll need the a substrate and the ground components (binder, grit and, optionally, a tone):Substrate: This is the surface that the abrasive material will be adhered to.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Pastel Technique | Getting Wet

Most pastelists have wet pastel in the initial stages of their paintings as a means of setting a tone upon which to work. Without this stain to set the general tone and value, a considerable amount of pastel will have to be applied to cover the undertone of the surface. This can fill the tooth of the surface and eventually make the painting appear heavy and muddy.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

A Consistent Palette: The Plein Air Artists Friend

Artists are always interested in how other artists arrange their palettes. This is a topic I have discussed many times in the pages of The Pastel Journal and on this weekly blog. Knowing the reasoning behind their layouts can provide a window into their working style and often provide tips that can make our own palettes more efficient (reference previous blogs on palettes: Aug.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Traveling Even Lighter

I am often asked what supplies I take with me when I travel and how do I get them to my destination intact. I’ve addressed these questions in previous posts (in December 2007 and March 2009), but—as useful as these methods have been—I continue to look for ways to make the process easier.Air travel is the biggest issue.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

10 Tips to Brand Yourself as an Artist on Twitter

Did you know Twitter is one of the quickest ways to build brand recognition for you and your art business? A strong art brand is your first impression, is what counts on a sale, and it is what keeps collectors and customers coming back.Maintaining your personal brand should be top priority and is one of the best ways is to improve your professional image.
Read More
Techniques and Tips

Learn to Draw 3 FREE Lessons with Sandra Angelo

Raise your hand and salute our troops…those who give up so much so to serve!Have you ever blubbered a heart wrenching “Goodbye” and then bubbled with excitement over a safe… “Welcome Home”?Today I’m honoring our soldier heroes by giving you a glimpse inside what they give up… kids, pets, spouses, comforts of home.
Read More