Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ACEO/ATC Pastel Experiment

The painting here is one painting of multiple experiments!  We have a shamrock plant that has tiny white flowers on it and I've always wanted to try to paint them and I finally did it.  I also used this painting as a basis to experiment with 1) using pastel pencils on a very small  support  2) using PastelMat as that support and 3) steaming as an alternative to spray fixative.

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.


Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Jan, those little shamrock flowers are just adorable aren't they? :-) Beautiful job and with such challenges - size being one of them! I really like all of the colour you used in the 'white' petals. As I am not a pastel expert, I shall let others weigh in on the steaming procedure!

Dors said...

Beautiful job Jan. They are so pretty . I can understand it being quite a challenge with the fine detail. You did a superb job.

I am yet to get into pastels...I have them all ready to try but don't have a large amount of pencils. but should be enough to try them out.
Thank you for sharing the info on steaming.

sue said...

Lovely artwork as always - very pretty flowers.

Do you (or will you) draw and sell ACEOs and OSWOAs?

Jan said...

Thanks for stopping by, all of you.

Teresa, I have to admit that the color in the petals are not quite accurate. Instead of the pinkish- mauve, it's really a bit more grayish-mauve.

You really should give the pastels a try, Dors. I know you like working in cp and graphite but I think you'll be amazed at how quickly a pastel piece can be finished as compared to cp or graphite.

Hi Sue. So far I've only done the small formats for my own pleasure or for trading in a couple of forums I belong to. It would be nice to sell some though & I wouldn't turn down any sales. I just haven't advertised them or offered them for sale anywhere.

Christine said...

I LOVE this little painting!! How wonderfully you were able to render the light on the flowers...it looks just magnificent! Really great job!!