Friday, 15 March 2013

Pastel Port Mods

More mental meanderings. The paper wrapper Sennelier use has always bugged me a little. It seems to attract muck and when you try and wipe it clean, all the printed info on the pastel disappears. I think it might be wax paper or something. Recently though, in fact just now, I realised this could be solved by rolling and sellotaping cut acetate around the pastel. The acetate sheets I have are not paper thin, so they resist the bending. This means it won't wrap so tight that you can't move it up as the pastel wears down. So far at least, it is proving easier to wipe clean and keeps the original wrapper info intact. This in turn lead to a couple of other improvements: Having mashed pigment with the clear medium, I wasn't sure how to store any left overs for future use - roll it in acetate! This easy clean surface now also allows me to add some small pastels to my pastel port to address another niggle. I wanted the initial blocking in process of a painting to be much quicker than has so far been achieved by a palette knife alone. The acetate rolled around each pastel makes it easy to blu-tack a limited palette of 4 crayons to the board for this purpose. The palette of french ultramarine, burnt umber, yellow ochre and white is enough for pretty much any initial covering scenario (picked up from the brilliant Will Kemp but the boxes of 4 are so small you could carry other combos and interchange them easily, since they're only blu-tacked to the board. Inside the box I also placed two strips of blu-tack so the pastels stay where they are when holding the board at vertical angles. Again, the acetate wrap makes this a much cleaner and easier process.
In other news, I've also added a couple of bulldog clips as they seem like very handy wee clamps/holders! Getting modular now. All of which must surely make it official; I'm an oil pastel geek! :)
You might notice from the photo that colours are beginning to share wells or even take over space which should be dedicated to mixing. This is because a) oil pastel colors are solid and non-siccative, so they won't run into each other and b) I'm finding in practice that because the pastel on the painting surface is easily scraped up with a palette knife, I'm doing most of the colour mixing while painting rather than beforehand. By first laying down a basic sky/ground and altering the pressure sensitivity on application, this combination of features make effects like aerial perspective pretty much automatic.