Use Water With Pastels

A different technique

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In CapeTown, South Africa, there is an artist who has managed to blend his medium, water, with pastels and has created some wonderful results.

Now this is not new. The technique is generally done by laying down the pastel, then using a brush with water to shape the pastel. The effect is similar to a watercolor painting.

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However, artist Ian Fletcher, does it slightly differently and the effect is more dramatic. I’ll pass the page onto him:

"….I retired over 10 years ago, and have been trying to catch up with my amateur painting methods ever since. Not easy, when there is a whole world of literature with examples of styles out there. I am a member of South African Society of Artists, founded in 1902, based in CapeTown.

I have been painting in watercolour for over 25 years – largely unsuccessfully, but with some success in pen and wash, which I enjoy.

To start, I paint an undercoat (very pale) on watercolour paper, then draw an outline with anything white (eg w/c pencil) which can just be seen.

Now for the colour. I wet my 1" dry pastel (cube shaped, soft or hard) holding it with finger and thumb, dipping all of it into a bowl of water. I then give it a good shake or two to rid it of any excess water. I then draw with the pastel stick as my mood takes me - wiping, pressing soft or hard, twisting, direction, edges, and so forth, until I think that is enough!  I very much like the depth of tone which is so hard to get in watercolour because of the water.

With the above technique, there must be plenty of alternative routes to follow. I am sure I have only touched the" tip of the iceberg…."

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Many thanks, Ian for sharing this technique.

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