Sunday, August 15, 2010

So is it finished?

We artists are plagued by the question "when is it finished?" And I'm certainly no exception.
Working on this piece has been very slow. Partly, I think, because I wasn't used to this paper, Pastelmat, that I'm trying for the first time. And I kept deciding that I needed more colors, would order them, then suspend working on the piece until they arrived. The new colors certainly helped. But I must admit to sometimes finding shopping for more art supplies more fun than working through a difficult stage on a piece of art! By the way, the additional pastels I bought were several Rembrandt greens, open stock, and a set of Polychromos pastels.
As far as the Polychromos pastels go, I really like them. They are "hard" soft pastels, much like Nupastel, but them come in more colors - 120 instead of 96. The colors are matched to the colors in their colored pencil and watercolor pencil set. I wonder if they're somewhat new as I haven't seen them before on the websites I typically shop at (,,,
As for the paper, I liked it and didn't like it - compared to velour paper, that is. Here's what I found - my opinion only! The pluses I found for the Pastelmat are:
  • Lines transfer very well. My process includes completing a careful drawing before I begin the pastel and transferring the drawing to the pastel paper by tracing it, going over the back of the tracing paper with graphite, then placing the tracing right-side-up on the pastel paper and going over all the lines with a stylus. On velour paper, the transferred lines are light, fuzzy, and thick, so it's hard to preserve a lot of detail from the initial drawing. I found that transferring on Pastelmat requires a light touch with the stylus or I get a line that is too dark and a little tricky to cover with the pastel, but the lines are sharp and nice and thin.
  • Seemingly untold layers of pastel will adhere to the paper.
  • There is a negligible amount of dust. Dust also isn't a problem with velour paper, but I can't stand the amount of dust that I get on sanded paper.
  • Pastel pencils leave a lot of pigment on the paper, as opposed to very little on the velour paper.
  • Blending is very easy, either with the pastels themselves as I applied them, or by lightly rubbing with my finger.
On the other hand, the pluses I have found for velour paper are:
  • Fur looks incredibly soft on this paper.
  • The paper will take many layers.
  • There is virtually no dust.
  • "Washes" work really well once I have a few layers of pastel on the paper. It looks that the pluses for Pastelmat outnumber those for velour paper, but this wash thing is very important to me. I found washes impossible on the Pastelmat.
My next pastel painting will be a cat on a rug, and the rug has a lot of detail in it. There are arguments for both papers for this deign, and I'm not decided yet.
But back to the painting of the three sun conures. Is it finished? Probably not quite yet. I'll put it up next to the TV tonight and give it one more evening's "thought" then final touches tomorrow.

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