California Landscape Spring Pastel Painting – Quiet Spring Reflections – Western Sierra Foothills – by Karen Winters
Quiet Spring Reflections
9 x 12 pastel on sanded paper
Western Sierra Foothills, near Visalia
I enjoy pastel painting although I don’t do it as often nowadays as oil. But I’m getting back into it. For this subject, I thought the soft spring foliage lent itself to the soft buttery texture of the pastel on sanded paper. I toned the paper first with a warm under painting, then let it dry, then painted into it directly with hard, then soft pastels, finally accented with pastel sticks.
Pastel has advantages over oil: there is less opportunity to make mud when working in layers alla prima. But there is the disadvantage of not being able to use transparent layers in the same way one can with watercolor and oil.
Surprisingly, I use many of the same techniques that I do in oil. Instead of doing drybrush, I drag the side of the pastel horizontally over a layer. Negative painting is much the same as with oil. Edges can be lost and found in much the same way. Getting the color right is the most difficult part. Virtually any color can be mixed with a warm and cool of each primary, plus black and white, in oil. In pastel you need to have a kaleidoscope of sticks unless you mix and blend some on the paper.
Whichever medium I choose, it’s still California impressionism and I think it still looks like something painted by me.