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Pastel Technique: A Study on Paper

This morning I had the privilege to meet Ed Kennedy, PSA. Ed resides in the same town as I do, in Saline, MI., so we got together to share notes over coffee at Brewed Awakenings. Ed was featured in the recent issue of Pastel Journal. You can see his excellent work here at the Ed Kennedy Studio.

At one point Ed talked about a pastellist that used Canson paper. I thought that was passe, as sanded paper seems to have become the surface of choice for pastellists. Recognizing that I have a fair inventory of Canson paper in my studio, I decided to do a landscape study using an orange-yellow toned paper.

I visited my photo reference file and found a path composition from Lillie Park in Pittsfield Township, MI to try out.

Hmm, I sort of liked this! It forced me be more selective with my pastels as I knew the paper would not hold too many layers. I rubbed the initial pastels into the paper, although you can still see the small grids in the surface in some of the greenery. I used a fine cloth and my fingers to do the rubbing and blending. Softer pastels (Schminke, Sennelier) will help build highlights and details on top of the current version.

This exercise forced me to think about the essentials of a landscape painting. Forget the tools, supplies, technique. In this example I felt that I got the value and the colors right, along with the composition, with a relatively inexpensive surface and a limited time to work (dinner was in thirty minutes).

I compared the prices of Uart sanded paper with Canson. At Dakota Art Pastels, a sheet of Canson is about 3 times cheaper that sanded Uart paper, 19.5 x 25.5 inch size in a 10-pack costs $2.20 ($22.00 for the pack) vs. $7.44 for a 21 x 27 inch size for purchase of 10 or more.

At a minimum, I like the Canson paper to do studies and perhaps some smaller pieces. The artist can't go wrong in being flexible (and practical) with art supplies.

Reference photo:

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