Oil Pastel Experiment: Trying Gelatos for Underpainting

""Working in Oil Pastel With Gelatos for Underpainting" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

In the last post, we looked at using acrylic paint as an underpainting layer for an oil pastel piece. This time, we’re going to look at a medium that is probably not commonly used for underpainting: Gelatos®.

Faber-Castell’s Gelatos are a stick pigment often used for art journaling. They aren’t pastels, but they do resemble softer oil pastels in their consistency—but they are much more “mushy” and are in fact often compared with lipstick in texture. There are several sets of Gelatos available; for this piece, the pastel color set was used to match the subject: a retro Peaches n’ Cream Barbie.

Gelatos offer a lot of flexibility. They can be used dry (and blend into the paper easily) or can be used with water. Once they’re dry, they don’t budge—which makes them great as an underpainting layer if you want it to stay put. Also, you can draw pencil marks on top of it, and nothing will smear from erasures.

Gelatos aren’t noted to work well on canvas (from my research), so a mixed media paper was used. Mixed media paper also seems to work well with oil pastels, similar to bristol board, in that it offers a smooth surface for blending.

Materials used:

  • Faber-Castell Gelatos: Pastels Set
  • Sennelier and Faber-Castell Oil Pastels
  • Conte Crayon (for fine details)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the underpainting layer. It looked similar to the underpainting done in acrylic paint but was obviously done in pastel colors.

All Pros—and No Cons

The Gelatos made a perfect underpainting layer for the oil pastel! They were applied dry and blended in large areas with a baby wipe; small areas were blended with Q-Tips. At a certain point, it was obvious that the outline of the nose was not drawn in (which I meant to do), so I went in with colored pencil to draw on top of the Gelatos. Even though some mistakes needed to be erased, the Gelatos did not move.

The conte crayon used for finer detail did well when used on top of all the mediums underneath when Gelatos were the underpainting.

 

""Working in Oil Pastel With Gelatos for Underpainting" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

So the verdict is in! Gelatos are great as an underpainting layer under oil pastels. They’re fun to work with, and are readily available at places like Hobby Lobby and Michaels—plus, you can use coupons there. I will definitely be purchasing more Gelatos for future projects.

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Oil Pastel Experiment: Acrylic Underpainting Pros and Cons

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Oil pastel is perfect for those who want something between drawing and painting — something with more of the control of drawing but some of the flexibility in blending available with painting.

Oil pastels on their own can be very striking — but underpainting can help fill in some of those little spots that show underneath. This is the first experiment with underpainting mediums for pastel and trying to find the right one.

Since canvas worked for some previous oil pastel pieces, canvas seemed to make the most sense when working with acrylic painting as the underpainting; a matte varnish was added over the acrylic to make it easier to blend the oil pastels. So that’s what was done here. An earlier “mini experiment” ended up having no varnish over acrylic underpainting, which ended up a bit rough for blending the oil pastels on top.

The subject was a collector Barbie doll from the 1990’s: Renoir Barbie. Dolls make a great subject because they have a face to work with but aren’t as difficult as real people at the same time. For a piece that’s basically just an experiment, that works perfectly. 🙂

Materials used:

  • Acrylic paint: Grumbacher Academy and Winsor & Newton Galeria
  • Liquitex Matte Varnish (over the acrylic underpainting)
  • Sennelier and Faber-Castell Oil Pastels
  • Conte Crayon (for fine details)
"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
Underpainting in acrylic for 1990’s Renoir Barbie oil pastel. Sorry for the glare!

The underpainting for this piece was done in all gray tones, as the finished product was to be black and white.

Pros

The oil pastel blended very smoothly and easily with this method. Not only was it easy to work with, but it also made it easier to scrape off mistakes. Unwanted marks came off pretty well without much left behind.

Cons

It was difficult to build up white pastel very well with this method; the same went for any semi-transparent or lighter grays. Any sketch lines also showed easily underneath.

Also, conte crayon, which has worked well in the past for fine details on top of oil pastel (e.g., eyelashes) did not want to stick to the pastel when it was on top of the acrylic underpainting.

The finished piece turned out decently, though.

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

So overall, this method may work well if using very faint (or no) sketch lines drawn in beforehand. If bold colors only are used, then the transparency when blending wouldn’t be an issue — but clearly, there’s probably a better method out there.

Stay tuned for another experiment….

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(Art) Porg Art: It’s All in the Eyes

"Porg Art: It's All in the Eyes" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
“Mr. Cranky Porg.” Oil pastel and conte crayon on canvas.

It started with the best intentions: drawing a porg in mainly oil pastel to show a cute porg on a sunny day.

What resulted was a cranky-but-cute porg (hopefully)…but looking at the cranky porg, I can see what went wrong. And it was a good lesson.

How the Porg was Drawn

Mr. Cranky Porg started out as a sketch on canvas paper of the outline of an owl. He was mostly filled in with oil pastel, with his “feathers” being suggested by conte crayon marks.

The conte crayon worked really well on the oil pastel to show thinner, yet definite, lines. Oil pastel seemed like it would be too thick for this purpose. Only quite dark conte crayon worked and only on top of oil pastel colors that were noticeably lighter.

What Makes This Porg Look Cranky?

Looking closely at the porg, one can easily see what makes him look cranky. It’s in the eyes—or in a way, a lack thereof. His eyes are just too small. Porgs’ eyes are huge and take up a good amount of their face, but this porg failed in the eyeball department.

Well, better luck next time—and there will be another porg drawing for another time. They’re just too fun not to draw and paint them. 🙂

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