Phew! What a day...the workshop that I went to run by Jane Puckering was sooooo good, one of the best ones I've ever been to. Her enthusiasm and energy were infectious, making you feel like anything is possible. Using acrylic with pastel is a whole new ball game to me and I was intrigued to find out more about the technique.
Jane began painting a very wet and very loose under painting in really fluid acrylic, there were lots of beautiful runs and dribbles in the paint. Once this was dry she showed us a medium called 'acrylic ground for pastels' which is made by a company called Golden. She uses it diluted 40% with water and paints it on top of the acrylic under painting in broad directional strokes. You can also use this medium on top of a watercolour under painting as it dries clear without disturbing it and then pastel on top.
All fired up we made our own under paintings, some people using acrylic and some working with watercolour. I was working on a pre-primed piece of MDF and I really enjoyed this bit, lots of flinging paint and letting the liquid do the work.
I'd decided to stay with the same palette that I've been working with lately of indanthrene blue, quinacridone burnt orange, golden yellow and azure blue. I was working from my sketches of Kimmeridge and wanted to really explore the marks that I could make. In the under painting you can see where I've dribbled water through the wet paint, diluting areas and letting it run.
Whilst our under paintings were drying Jane then showed us how pastel could be applied on top. She showed us how you could use the marks in the under painting to draw out areas and cover over any passages that weren't conducive to the final painting. At the end of stage 2 with pastel applied but lots of under painting showing through I really should have stopped. However I carried on adding in the suggestion of the headland and completely overworking the rest. Jane explained that one of the beauties of this techniques is that as the medium used is acrylic based I can just wash off any offending parts (for me in this case the flat bed of rock) to take it back to the under painting and then I can just start again. I'm going to live with the mistakes for a few days and analyse how I will take my second shot.
There was still some time to go of the workshop so I thought I'd have another go on a second composition. This time the MDF wasn't primed and I went straight in with the acrylic under painting letting alot of the buff of the board show through. Once it was dry I added the medium and began the pastel stage. I was halfway through when the call went out that we'd be finishing in twenty minutes for a critique to finish the afternoon. Yikes! I had to get my skates on..
I was much happier with this piece as there are still passages of the under painting showing through and the marks are more dominant. I'm thinking that I need to work against the clock more often - no time to fiddle. Looking at it on screen I can see I need to crop about a 6th from the sky for a better composition and maybe darken the lower 6th.
Yesterday was such a great day, it's always so good to learn new techniques and it's certainly given me a lot to ponder. I'm sure I will play with the technique again but more importantly, for me, it's shown me a way of loosening up and exploring the painted mark. Jane regularly runs workshops in Sway, there's a list on her website, so if you feel like treating yourself I'd thoroughly recommend taking one.