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Old 10-23-2006, 01:59 AM
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Default Snark! Help with pastels?

I was going to PM you but I figured this would be a useful thread for anyone else curious about this . . .

I've looked for a bit on the web and haven't found any fantastic information on how to work with pastels. I've tried before and my attempts have come out looking like a child's scribbling.

Do you have any tips or links to resources on the web that explain how to work with pastels? I'd like to do a portrait to give to a friend but I have no idea where to even begin, lol!
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Old 10-23-2006, 05:55 AM
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I work on velour paper and it doesn't 'react' the same as plain paper. You can't blend colors with your finger or anything else, you have to use one pastel on top of another, working it back and forth. The velour paper is not very forgiving in some aspects - it can't be erased and it's easy to gouge (the darker colors are more inclined to do that); but the colors stay vibrant and there's hardly any dust depending on the type of pastel used. I've found NuPastels work best for me, they're practically dust free and hold a very fine line.
I usually start with a charcoal line drawing - getting the shape of the head and neck, putting the eye(s), nose in position. It's fairly detailed without getting into shading (although I will often 'rough' in the shapes of the shadows if they're fairly prominent.)
From there, I put in my shadows and highlights, working with black for the shadows, but either a cream, light blue or pink (depending on coat color) for the highlights. Once I'm happy with that, I go back and start adding layers of color over the the shadows and highlights.
There is a book I used when I first started drawing with pastels - it's one of the old Walter Foster series of how-to books, but I always found it very helpful. It's for drawing horse heads, but the principles are the same for dogs. You can still find it in any art store or online at Amazon (my copy dates from 1968 and cost a whole dollar. Lol!)
Here's the link on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/pro...283155&s=books
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Old 10-23-2006, 03:48 PM
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Ooo, okay. Thank you! I'll order that book. Not sure what to look for in velour paper, never even seen it before but I know the little art store in Phoenix (that place has everything) will have it.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:41 PM
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You can order the velour paper online from Dick Blick, it's expensive - around $6 a sheet (19 x 27) and if the store in Phoenix does carry it, hopefully they store it in a flat drawer. Exposure to air and light will make the material brittle (although I think it will take a few months), and it will indent easily at any time so be careful handling it. I keep my paper in its original store wrap and also in a large portfolio until I'm ready to use it.

If you don't have a large portfolio, a couple of pieces of cardboard will work just as well (in fact, I put my finished pastels in cardboard to give to the purchaser - keeps it safe until they can get it framed.) Oh, that's another thing - make sure whoever gets your portrait frames it under glass with a mat and lets the framer know it's a pastel (it will affect how they handle the framing). NEVER spray it with a fixative either, it just turns the light colors translucent. Masking tape works well to remove dust, hair or small children.

I keep my drawing covered (the cheap newsprint sketch paper works well) when I'm not working on it, and since the cats do love to sit on my drawing table (no matter how many times I shoo them away), I also store it in a large portfolio out of their reach. You'll find pastel on velour doesn't smear easily, but the darker dust will 'march' if the paper is handled roughly (no flapping in the breeze or dropping on its edge!)

Have fun, it's a neat material to work with!
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