Thursday, August 29, 2013

Making Illuminated Pastel Sticks

Illuminated pastel sticks

Think of the wall of a house painted one color – flat.

Now imagine the sky just after sunset.  You can see the colors in the air – there's a sense of space.

We can get this sense of space by using illuminated colors.

Here is how:
1.     Pick out two colors of the same value.  For those who want an example, I used Terry Ludwig's dark green G520 and dark red R170X.  This made a stunning, glowing shadow color.  

2.     Crush each color separately into pieces like small cracked pepper.  Do not turn it all into powder or leave in pieces larger than a grain of quinoa.   I put the stick in a fold of paper and roll a rolling pin over it.  Open the paper and rearrange the pieces in a thin flat layer to expose the remaining larger pieces to further crushing. Fold paper and roll again until stick is crushed evenly.  Repeat same operation with second color in a separate paper.

3.     When both are crushed evenly combine them by gently stirring them together on a pile of 3 or more paper towels.  Spray with water in a mist, gently folding the particles over and over inside the towels until all particles are wet – not soaking.

4.     Bring the paper towel over the moist particles and push them together, including all the bits stuck to the paper towel.  Do not knead the colors into a lump.  To succeed with illuminated colors, the colors of the particles must remain distinct.  Firmly press them together. 

5.     Form into a stubby stick, 3/4" in diameter.   Be careful there are no wrinkles, cracks or spaces in the stick.  The nature of these sticks is weaker than regular pastels, they cannot be made too thin or they will break when you use them. 

6.     Set the stick aside to dry.  If you like to use a dehydrator let them sit for 24 hours first. The particles need time for the binding agents to interact with each other while still wet to form new bonds.  They are dry when no longer cool to the touch, like laundry.


The procedure is simple, but choosing exactly the right color is very tricky.  It took me 10 years to suddenly realize the power of my illuminated colors when correctly matched.  Certain combinations fall flat and others are fabulous.
Stay tuned here for some recipes for specific illuminated sticks that will amaze your eyes.
If you have colors in your studio that were disappointing and you haven’t been using them, post the brand and color number on my facebook and I’ll do my best to make you a custom recipe!

Coming soon:
Making your own set of Illuminated colors. 
Learning about values
Recipes with 3 or 4 colors



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 13-15 Plein Air Color Intensive.

Debra and me with her pastel

Three days of color study outside where the real color is. We studied color, values, temperatures, mixing and pigments.
We painted in the morning and worked in the studio (air conditioned) in the afternoon.on our color studies.  On the third day we switched to a larger format, painting all day.
We worked all three days on one site.  Under-painting the first day,  applying pastel the second and switching scale the third.    Most of us worked in pastel.  One student did it all in Acrylic.  I've never asked my class to stay with the same subject for 3 days.  It was a great idea.  We were able to go into depth on all aspects of color.


Friday, September 30, 2011

'Waterfall'

'Waterfall' 36"x24" Pastel on Sandpaper

We painted at Crystal Springs today. Although it was predicted to be cloudy the sun shone all afternoon. It was a beautiful day.
Thanks, Celeste, for this photo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Park

'Park' 18x24. pastel on sandpaper with a pigment dispersion underpainting

Furthering the quest for expressive work
I was forced, by being unprepared, to sit down with this subject. I wouldn't have chosen it. I was in the mood to paint water. (when am I not in the mood to paint water?) I was happy to find that my paintings are not so much empowered by subject choice as they are by what I do with the subject. I didn't even realize how good this was until I got over my frustration. That took a whole 24 hours and many positive comments from viewers.

Deleted Oil practice phase.

I just deleted all the oil and acrilyic experiments. Vanity? Professionalism? I couldn't bear to be represented by all that mediocre work.

2012 Class schedule

My Class Schedule for 2012 is up. I'll be adding times to the color classes when they are set. I have some information about lodging as well. Please let me know if you are interested.

I kept the price low since artists aren't flocking to classes these days. There will be a small additional model's fee for the figure class.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm back to pastel

'Light Corridor' 36"by 24" Pastel on sandpaper with a wet pigment underpainting. Plein Air, done this afternoon.

I'm back to pastel. My first love. My explorations in oil and acrylic taught me that I already am where I want to be. Loose. Expressive. Looking forward to a whole new body of work.