(Post by Maggie)
This weekend, I gave a demonstration for about 15 pastel artists in Pollock Pines, California. My subject was how to effectively use an underpainting in the first stage of developing a pastel painting. I like underpaintings and use them frequently. They accomplish several things at once: covering a white surface, creating a simple value and color study, and giving me a "road map" to follow as the painting progresses.
Some subjects benefit more from underpaintings than others. This subject included several elements that really utilized the colors placed on the first layer. In the background, where the trees are in strong sunlight, I underpainted a bright yellow. In the deep greens of the water, I underpainted a rich green. And in the left foreground, I painted the underwater rocks with oranges and browns. Various shades of lavender were used where green foliage was intended to go, and the above-ground rocks were underpainted in purples and oranges.
The painting was just fun from there on, and I enjoyed creating it and explaining the process as I moved along. The final result, left, is River Rocks, 16x20 on white Richeson Gatorfoam surface, © Maggie Price (private collection).
The following day, I had an opportunity to be a student rather than a teacher. As followers of this blog know, I've been working in oils again after many years in pastel. While I've always painted in oils primarily with a brush, I wanted to learn more about painting only with a palette knife. My friend Urania Christy Tarbet teaches this technique, and gave a lesson and painting session to Bill and me.
It was challenging, frustrating, interesting and finally fun. The finished painting (right, Rose Garden, oil/palette knife on canvas, 16x20, ©Maggie Price) has several areas I'd handle differently if I did it again, but for a first effort with only the knife, I don't think it's too bad. It's certainly a technique I plan to explore further, and hope to improve with practice. And maybe the best part of all was that when I was done, I didn't have to wash any brushes.