10 Reasons to Love Pastels: Just Add Water

Well, in honor of being almost to my 200th post on this blog, I thought I'd do a series: 10 Reasons to Love Pastels. Since I spend most of my time scrubbing chalk into my paintings, I'll be focusing on chalk pastels for these posts, and how I've learned to love so many things about them over the last (gulp) nine years of painting with soft pastel.

Reason #10 to love soft pastels: they can be blended with water!

"Down at the Oaks"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on watercolor paper
Click here to view large or purchase
Chalk pastels are easy to blend with water, by taking a dry pastel painting (on watercolor paper or canvas) and brushing with water.  Click here to see a detailed tutorial on using this method.

You can also paint with wet pastel sticks directly on canvas, or press dry pastel sticks onto a wet paper or canvas to get a unique effect:
"The Road to Reno"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on flat canvas
Click here to view large or purchase
There are days when I feel like brushing paint with water, but don't have time to mix colors or clean up brushes.  A quick fix for that feeling is to tape down some watercolor paper (or grab a flat canvas) and begin blocking in a painting, focusing on lights and darks.  With a watercolor brush and a little cup of water, a dry pastel quickly becomes a painting that's easy to blend.  I don't have to worry about the painting drying too fast (always a battle here in Southern California), since I can just rewet it with the brush if needed. 

For extra contrast, wetting the pastels first and directly pressing them onto the surface (or pressing the dry pastels into a wet surface) yields a striking balance of light and dark, which can be adjusted with wet or dry layers of chalk that build a textured, bold look.

As long as you save the bright colors and lights for the last layer or two, pastels stay bright and beautiful even when mixed with water, and lend themselves especially well to an impressionist style of painting.

To see more works blended with pastel and water, visit my Recent Works Gallery!

Click on the links below to read some of my articles on Empty Easel:
Is Your Art Blog Helping or Hurting Your Brand?
4 Reasons to Put Your Art Online (Besides Exposure)
If Art is a Language, How Well Do You Communicate?

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