Tuesday, March 30, 2010
ACEO/ATC Pastel Experiment
Even keeping the pastel pencils as sharp as possible, I still had problems with this small painting.
ACEOs (art card editions and originals if sold) or ATCs (art trading cards if traded) have only one rule and that is a size rule - they must be 2.5 x3.5 inches (or 3.5 x 2.5 as in my painting). That's a mighty small space to work in especially if you're as "ham-fisted" as I am. My hands are pretty large which makes it very difficult to work in small spaces but I managed fairly well with this and am pretty pleased with the way it came out. I could not get a super smooth finish but think that's as much the support as anything else.
Which brings me to the PastelMat that I used for this. I've worked on this paper before (remember Belle?) and really struggled with it. I had some difficulty this time also as it's nearly impossible to blend on it which is really my only complaint with it. The nappy surface holds pastel extremely well and there's very little dust which is wonderful in my opinion! I think the color of the support should be carefully considered though. It seems to make a difference since you can't really "tone" the surface easily. I used the Anthracite color for this painting although I used pastel on the whole surface.
Although the PastelMat really holds the pastel, I decided to try to fix it more by using steam. I wasn't sure how to do it exactly but I basically just heated a small pan of water until it produced consistent steam then held the painting face down over the pan. The PastelMat is a card instead of a flimsy/floppy paper so I was able to hold it by the edges (plus this is a small painting). I steamed it just long enough to get the surface damp but not wet. The pastel did not permanently change color although it darkened until the painting dried (which only took a minute or less).
I don't know what, if any, benefit there is to steaming as the pastel will still rub off but I may not have done it correctly either. There's no loose pastel dust but there was just a minute amount before steaming anyway. I think I may have to try this with another support to fully gauge the effectiveness. It would stand to reason that steaming would work as using water or alcohol in the painting process tends to compact and "set" the pastel. If it does work well, I may invest in one of those hand-held steamers so I can steam without having to hold the painting while I steam it.
I hope you've benefited from these experiments and if you have anything to add, I hope you'll let me know.