The word for this weeks word challenge was ‘Purple’ I thought, okay I can do this in between my other painting projects. The image shows the backsides of cosmos on a 5×7 watercolor paper 140#. Watercolor paper was used because I needed a surface that would handle a wet acrylic black and white underpainting for the background, and didn’t want to waste good pastel papers for this word challenge.
Painting on watercolor paper can be a challenge with oil pastels. The paper has no tooth, so unless you use creamy OPs, like Senneliers, the surface will be unforgiving when trying to spread oil pastels and you’re almost guaranteed to have poor results. Normally you’d prepare WC paper with a grit to give it some tooth so the oil pastels have something to adhere too – making it easier to spread (like Liquitex clear gesso).
I was in a hurry so I didn’t gesso the watercolor paper, well I could have predicted that outcome. The OPs clumped up and couldn’t be spread (used neopastels and mungyo OPs) even used clay shapers and fingers, but to no avail. It would have been so much easier if I had clear gessoed the surface but I didn’t, so I had to do with what I had. Not liking the finished painting, I went back into it and thought what the heck and started to experiment.
Several techniques were used that I don’t normally do in my paintings:
- Soft colored pencils were used for some edging on the petals, 98% of the painting was done using oil pastels though. This worked okay, but not likely to do this again.
- A straight-edged razor was used to scrape back some of the flower petals sides and basically cleaned up the OPs. I liked this technique for correcting problem areas, as well as doing some sgraffito (scratching/etching) – this technique will be used in future paintings
- I don’t use solvents in my paintings, but today I tried it. To smooth out and spread the OPs on the flower petal a #1 round brush dabbed in turpenoid (a bit goes a long ways). It worked to a point, but if you go over a section too many times the turp eats through all the paint and then you have to wait for it to dry to start all over.
The acrylic underpainting was perfect in texture and design for the background, I lightly smeared magenta, violet, purple and charcoal blue in various places to give a hint of color. The bottled neck vase lip was discretely painted in the lower left-hand corner.
Lessons were learned today. Mainly, unless I have gessoed paper or paint with Senneliers when working on watercolor paper, I’ll go back to using my heavily gessoed boards and grit-prepared papers (Wallis and Uart) – they perform perfectly.
I’m not fond of this painting, it became an experiment with a couple of lessons learned. In that respect it was time well spent, but lol it’s still going in the trash.
Wondering out-loud here and would welcome some feedback: while these weekly word challenges are good practice for small pieces, I’m wondering if they have taken me too far from my primary focus – seascapes and landscapes. The challenges put me in a funk when painting them, and good or bad I show you the results. But in the end I’m not sure the benefits have outweighed the time I’ve spent away from my painting priorities . . .