What if?

Isn’t it exciting when you stumble onto something that is totally new?  That is what happened when a colleague and I were developing a series of workshops on creative underpaintings for pastel.  While experimenting and asking “what if?” the technique of “Floating Pastel” was created.

An underpainting can make a painting even stronger.  It can provide a value roadmap, foster a more dramatic colour scheme, instil colour harmony or add textural interest.  With “Floating Pastel,” I discovered that it could provide all of these elements as well as adding a sense of depth and dimension to my paintings.

Having experimented with a variety of papers, I have found that this technique works best with UART because of its ability to handle liquid mediums.  After taping down the paper, I lightly apply pastel (single colour or a few colours, 2 or 3 maximum).

What if? 1
The pastel is then liquefied with Isopropyl Alcohol and brushed onto the paper.

Once dry, and working on a flat table, I brush a light glazing of water across the paper. Using a drywall sanding mesh, I grind a fine layer of pastel dust (Nupastel or Rembrandt) onto the sheen of water. (I wear a dust mask and work in a room that is well-ventilated.)

What if? 2
Two or three analogous colours work well when applying the “floating” pastel dust.​
What if? 3
While the surface is still wet, I take an eye dropper and drop 91% Isopropyl Alcohol across the surface, which repels the floating pastel dust, creating a colourful, abstracted underpainting.​
What if? 4
Once dry, I proceed with applying pastel as I would with any painting. The flowers begin by painting the negative space of the background while laying in darkest colour values.​
What if? 5
I then progress to the mid-values…
What if? 6
…and the light values.
What if? 7
Throughout this process, I choose how much of the abstracted underpainting will show through.  The final details are added to complete “Stephanie’s Surprise”.

This 2×3 ft. painting was completed on UART 500 using Unison pastels.

This technique has helped me become more painterly in my approach as I have to incorporate the surprise of colour and texture that results from the underpainting process.  While first utilising it in floral paintings because of its ability to give the flower petals a translucent appearance, I have since used this technique for landscapes and wildlife subjects.  It is exciting to think of all of the possibilities, just by asking “what if?”

Read the sequel to this blog – What if? Part II, here.

A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

Discovering Reflected Color

When asked to identify the color of a shadow, it is common to respond that it would be a darker color of whatever is in shadow.  A shadow of a tree on green grass would be a darker green.  A shadow of the same tree on dirt would be a darker brown.

Achieving Enlightenment

For a painting to work effectively, it should include a range of values as well as a variety of warm and cool colors. In addition, color harmony will be more successfully achieved when utilizing a limited palette.

An Artist’s Handwriting

Your handwriting is as unique and distinct as you are. Regardless of how we were taught to write, we each develop our own style. Immediately recognizable to those who know us.

A blog from artist, Tracey Maras.

I Don’t Remember It Looking Like That

The sky is filled with the dance of so many colors.  You quickly snap some photos to capture the moment, thinking to yourself about how you are going to create a painting to memorialize this moment.

A blog from Tracey Maras.

When Local Color Isn’t Enough

Sometimes I just don’t want to use what nature gives.  Sometimes I just don’t want to use local color.  Don’t get me wrong.  The world is filled with infinite beauty and inspiration.  But sometimes I just don’t want to paint a blue sky and green leaves.

Confetti Pastels

Do you like surprises?  Do you embrace moments of serendipity and happy accidents?  “Confetti Pastels” can add to your excitement.

How long did it take?

The question that every artist hears at some point is “How long did it take you to paint this?”.  It can be a very complex question to answer.  Is the inquiry to determine the financial value of the piece?  Does the answer somehow determine the quality of the painting?

If you enjoyed reading this…

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive more blogs like this, as well as other Unison Colour news including upcoming events and exclusive offers.

Use the buttons below to share this blog…

1 Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

Discovering Reflected Color

When asked to identify the color of a shadow, it is common to respond that it would be a darker color of whatever is in shadow.  A shadow of a tree on green grass would be a darker green.  A shadow of the same tree on dirt would be a darker brown.

Garden of Colour and Flight

On two sides looking out the windows is the woods, the view begins not four foot off the sidewalls where trees and open forest floor slope up and gently away. When the spring rain comes, water gathers in the high places and forms water falling streams that run toward and alongside the studio heading toward gathering ponds on the lower side.

Log In

When requesting a Password Reset using the 'Lost your password?' option, you'll receive an email with a link to reset your password. It's important to note that if you request multiple emails, only the most recent link will work.

Customer Enquiries

Got a question?

Please don’t hesitate to send us any questions, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
If you’d rather send us an email, please get in touch at:

Or give us a call on +44 (0)1434 240203 and choose option 1, for Liz.

Trade Enquiries

For trade enquiries, please contact us as below:

UK

[email protected] or call Liz on +44 (0)1434 240203 Option 1

China and Russia
Europe
North America
ROW (Exc. China and Russia)
0