Q: How do you achieve such richness of color in your pastel-on-sandpaper paintings?

"Motley," soft pastel on sandpaper, 38" x 58"

“Motley,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 38″ x 58″


A:  This results from the several months of studio time and many layers of soft pastel that go into creating each painting.  In a sense my technique is analogous to glazing done by the Old Masters.  They slowly built up layers of thin paint to achieve a high degree of finish.  Colors were not mixed physically, but optically.  I gradually build up layers of soft pastel, as many as 30, to create a pastel painting.  After a color is applied, I blend it with my fingers and push it into the sandpaper’s tooth.  It mixes with the color beneath to create a new color, continually adding richness, saturation, and intensity to the overall painting.

Comments are welcome!     

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

Barbara’s thoughts on art, the creative process, soft pastel, the inspiration she finds in travel, what it’s like to be an artist in New York City, and other wisdom for artists as we travel our solitary and sometimes lonely roads.

Posted on February 21, 2015, in 2015, An Artist's Life, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, New York, NY, Pastel Painting, Photography, Studio, Working methods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Fantastic Barbara. I agree, layers achieve the best quality of the medium applied. Do you have to “fix” them once completed with an archival fixative?, or do you leave them be??? Thanks,
    Diane Lynne Chanako

    • Diane, I leave them as is. The months I spend building up pastel layers results in a wonderful velvety texture that would be deadened if I sprayed them. I work on archival sandpaper. It holds lots of pastel so fixative is unnecessary. Over the years my framer and I have collaborated to find the sturdiest, most protective, and attractive frames. The frames are quite deep and involve layers of foam core, mainly to keep the pastel painting and the plexiglas far away from each other.

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