Backgrounds Using Soft Pastel and Gesso.

I love using Gesso – I get through tons of the stuff. Like a lot of artists I use it to prepare pages – so that they will stand up to wet paint and lots of layers. I usually use a plastic gift card to apply it to get a thin even layer. There is so much more you can do to make the Gesso layer interesting; collaging paper underneath; stamping or drawing into the wet surface.

I like colour. I like cheap.  So here’s a cheap way to add colour to your base layer.

This is the basic book – it was a really good find as the pages are as thick as card stock and have a great texture.

Soft Pastel - laid down in patches. There are two different effects you can get with this technique.

In the first I put down patches of colour and then (depending on how colourful you want your fingers) used my fingers or a paper towel to rub the pastel in to the page a bit more  – then I blew off the rest of the pastel residue, (I took the book outside to do this).

I then used the gift card to put a layer of Gesso over the top. Doing it this way means that your pastel stays pretty much as it is and can be seen through the semi transparent layer of Gesso. The colour comes through more where it has mixed with the Gesso.

The second technique begins very similarly.

But this time I laid down the Pastel even more heavily and didn’t get rid of the loose powder. I left space between the stripes to help with the gradation of colours.

When I applied the Gesso, to start with I used the gift card to spread Gesso over each strip individually, moving the Gesso around to get the pastel to mix in. I then spread the sections together adding more Gesso  as necessary and finished off using my fingers.

What I like about this technique is that it is an invitation to play and has loads of possibilities.

Another page came out kind of between the two others.

In this example the Gesso has mixed in some places and not in others. Because the first layer of gesso is applied thinly with a gift card a whole new layer began when i simply wiped left over gesso off on top of the other layers.

I am still playing with this idea – I would love to hear how you get on with this technique if you try it out. Let me know what you think.


2 thoughts on “Tutorials

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