The Pastel Palette Method

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Day 19 My Book : "The Pastel Palette Method" When to Use the Softest Pastels


When to Use the Softest Pastels


When you are further along in your painting and you feel that the texture, the darks, mid tones and lights are well established; you are ready to go to the next step in the “Pastel Palette Method”. Yes, you are ready to start using the softest pastels in your arsenal of pastel sticks. The Schminckes, and the Senneliers, are a few examples.

Not so fast! You need to ease into these extremely soft pastels when we apply them to the painting’s surface. You don’t want to ruin the beautiful textures you created by applying thick and unrealistic passages of pastel pigment. That would defeat the purpose of this method.




“Study of Vermeer” (work in progress)
Pastel on Masonite Board
Timothy John-Luke Smith

As you can see in the progression of my painting above, I am ready for the darkest darks and lightest lights. I begin mixing the softer pastels with my medium soft pastels, such as, Windsor and Newton or Holbein. As I apply these mixtures I will slowly increase the ratio of the Sennelier and Schmincke pastels. This will insure the proper build up of the softer pastel and I will retain the realistic textures that I worked so hard to achieve. My progression from light to dark needs to happen slowly to preserve the surface texture of the marble dust gesso treated Masonite board. I never want a surface that is overloaded with pastel.

You will find that as you go softer with this progression, that the softest pastels will be reserved for the darkest darks and lightest lights, this includes the highlights. It's much like the progress of a drawing done in graphite. The painting will come together with the texture, color and the focus that you had envisioned when you first began your picture. There must be a game plan with any endeavor and painting in pastels with the “Pastel Palette Method” is no different.

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