This lesson takes uses pastel mixed with alcohol as an under-painting technique. This affords spontaneity and a nice gestural flair. If you’re comfortable with under-painting, this lesson will be right up your alley. If not, maybe it’s time to dive in and give under-painting a try!

This is a two-part lesson. First a Follow-Along Demo. Follow along at your own pace but remember my suggestions for time limits! Next is an Independent Assignment meant to expand on some of the principles presented in the Follow-Along Demo and to personalize your work. When you have completed both parts you can upload one or both images to receive a personal video critique on your work. Remember that the more mileage you get, the more progress you make, so I recommend that you complete both parts before submitting your images.

Who it’s for – This lesson takes uses pastel mixed with alcohol as an under-painting technique. This affords spontaneity and a nice gestural flair. If you’re comfortable with under-painting, this lesson will be right up your alley. If not, maybe it’s time to dive in and give it a try!

What’s it’s About – Using an under-painting to spark spontaneity and gesture. Playing with mark-making to suggest the elements in your scene rather than painting details.

Set a Personal Focus – Try to focus on just a couple aspects of the painting. For instance if you really are interested in color, focus on that and don’t worry too much if you don’t get the drawing exactly how you’d like it. Take it a step at a time!

Set a Time Limit – Keep it simple and don’t spend more than a couple hours on it. If you find yourself spending two or three hours on it, it’s time to STOP and try another version! I recommend looking at the video on the Aerial Perspective.

Materials

  1. Your pastels
  2. A light colored piece of sanded paper that will accept wet media (Wallis, Pastel Matte, Pastel Premier).
  3. Rubbing alcohol
  4. An old bristol brush

Extras

  1. Easel
  2. Baby wipes
  3. An apron

Part I
Follow-Along Demo

Before You Start, a Few Tips on Following Along

  1. Stop the video whenever you need to – it’s one of the great things about learning this way. Plus, you don’t need to take notes!
  2. Don’t feel funny about copying my pieces! It’s a time-honored way to learn and I know you’ll develop your own “style” in due course. I give you lots of ways to take off on your own and expand on the demos/lessons.
  3. Take your time, but not really! I want you to speed up a bit so you can start to develop the “whole” piece all at once.
  4. Do it differently. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re likely on the right track.
  5. Remember the three “P’s” Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis. There is no such thing as a perfect painting, so don’t even worry about it.
  6. If you have trouble, ask for help! My team and I want you to have a great experience doing the lessons!!
  7. There are 5 stages in each lesson. The beginning of each stage is a good time to pause the video, take a short break and check in on how you’re doing.

A Crimson Day: Here we get to focus on a few things that might not be super obvious. I tried to keep in mind both linear and aerial perspective when building this piece. Both come into play. Maybe watch the video on aerial perspective again! Remember that we want to diminish, value and intensity, make things cooler and softer as they recede to the horizon. Also, think a bit about the scale of your marks as they get further towards the horizon, so that the groupings of “flowers” appear to get smaller.

Part 2
Independent Assignment

Do a second version from you own reference material. For this one you might try one of the alternate photos I provided, and try a different technique for under-painting. Maybe use Gamsol odorless mineral spirits or just water instead of the rubbing alcohol. Neither dry as fast, but both have a slightly different effect than the alcohol. Since under-painting is such as great means of adding interest to a piece, you’ll want to try them all out.

When You’ve Completed Both Part 1 & 2
When you’re done, click here to upload pics of your painting and I’ll send you a Personal Video Critique. I’m curious what you’ll come up with! The first critique request is a free bonus for you. If you’d like additional critiques, normally a Personal Video Critique is $97 but you can send a message my support team to get a discounted critiques package – I’ve already told them that since you are taking lessons from me, you get at least 40% off.

If you aren’t ready for a personal critique from me, then be sure to upload your work to our Community page where your peers can take a look. I often comment on the Community submissions as well – it won’t be a video critique but I really enjoy seeing your work and helping you when I can.

Next Up!
When you’re done, send me your image or images and I’ll reply with a video critique of your efforts! Just follow the simple directions on the site. I’m curious what you’ll come up with!

The Stages (applies to both part 1 & 2)

  1. Planning
    • Crop your reference, (feel free to crop it just like mine or change it up a bit).
    • Do a quick 5 to 10 minute thumbnail. This is a great way to get a feel for the piece and visualize the final version.
  2. Drawing
    • Scale up your thumbnail to the correct proportion Watch my video on scaling a sketch!
    • Lightly sketch in the essential shapes
    • Use your thumbnail sketch more than your photo reference at this point
  3. Blocking In
    • Establish the essential shapes of the piece, (3 to 5 largest shapes) Use the sides of the sticks)
    • Establish the values of those main shapes. What is the overall or average value of each shape?
    • Get a feel for how the piece works as a whole.
  4. Adding On
    • Add a variety of hues, and intensity to each shape.
    • Add texture and smooth out gradations where needed. Watch my video To Blend or Not to Blend.
    • Add a light source or direction of light.
    • Add detail.
  5. Finishing
    • Resolve any areas that need attention or TLC.
    • Slow down make color adjustments where needed.
    • Go the extra mile and exaggerate contrast and intensity where needed. Give yourself permission to do this!
Flower Field
Download the Lesson PDF

Enjoy “Flower Field”!

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Download the Images PDF
To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
Right Click (PC) to download files.

Click Here to Download the Images PDF

Skill Builder
Color Studies

SUPPLEMENTAL VIDEOS

Lesson 16