8 Ways to blend soft pastels

I recently did a video where I shared some of my favorite soft pastel tools and supplies. In that video I shared how much I live rubber shapers. I thought I would share some of other tools and techniques used to blend soft pastels.

Below are close up photos of each blending method to help give you a better idea of the look the create

Finger Blending

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Paper Blender

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Pipe Insulation Foam

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Pallet Knives

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Plastic Pallet Knife
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Example of why metal pallet knives don’t work

Catalyst Wedge

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Rubber Shapers

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Sofft Tools

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No Tool (Blending with pastels on paper)

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M Graham Watercolor Review and Ocean Wave Tutorial

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M Graham watercolors are the first tube watercolors I purchased. They were also the second brand of professional paints I purchased. I have been using them for two years and I have really enjoyed working with them. They are my go to watercolors when I want to do more traditional watercolor paintings.

I love how easily these paints are to reactivate after they dry,  they flow nicely when doing wet into wet paintings, and are very concentrated. These paints have colors that granulate, layer/glaze, and Lift. Most of the colors from my Hydrus Watercolors are staining which is great for how I use them however; it is nice to be able to fix mistakes easier. It is also nice to be able to get texture in your painting from the granulating pigments.

Depending on how you work and what your painting the vibrancy of the M Graham colors could be a pro or a con. M Graham paints are very pigmented and colorful but they tend to be more realistic in color where as some other brands can get a synthetic or artificial look to them. This is nice when painting faces and landscapes because I don’t have to work as hard to mix and neutralize to get them to look realistic.

I have a large collection of M graham Watercolors almost 40 colors and of my colors My favorites include their quinacridone colors ( I highly recommend this set), Gamboge, Prussan blue, Phthalo Blue, Cobalt teal, and Azo green.

For the demonstration and tutorial I decided to paint a seascape. I found my reference photo here 

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You don’t have to use M Graham paints to follow along or even use as many colors.  For fun I used all the blue M Graham colors I own but that is not necessary.   I worked in light layers of  paint to make it easier to glaze. The clear wax crayon helped preserve some of the highlights.

Tools and Supplies I used:

*Cerulean blue

*Cobalt Blue

*Cobalt Teal

*Ultramarine Blue

*Prussian Blue

*Phthalo Blue

*Phthalo Green

*Phthalo Green Yellow shade

*Dioxazine Purple

*Burnt Sienna

*Burnt Umber

*White Dr Ph Maritins Bombay India Ink

*Heat tool

*Clear Wax

*¾ Inch Flat Mimic Squirrel Brush

* #12 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush

*#8 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush

*1/4” Princeton Neptune Dagger Brush

*Arches Coldpress watercolor paper

 

Wave

Here is a closer look at the finished painting.

If you have any questions about M Graham paints please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

My Top five essential soft pastel tools

Here is a list of 5 of my favorite and most used tools when I work with soft pastels. My favorites include Rubbing Alcohol, Dark Ink ( I use Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks),  Photo Corners in various sizes,  Work able fixative ( I use Krylon Fixatif), and Rubber shapers.

The video goes into more detail of why I like these tools and supplies when working with pastels.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

 

Dr Ph Martins Hydrus watercolor Review and Speed painting

Colorful bear - Watercolor
Colorful Bear – Watercolor

I love Dr Ph Martins Hydrus Watercolors, I have been using them regularly for the past 2 ½ years. I have used them for a wide variety of paintings and thought I would share with you their pros and cons while demonstrating how to paint a colorful grizzly bear. Yes, grizzly bears are my favorite animal so I tend to paint them regularly. I Hope you find this review  and speed painting helpful.

One thing that is really nice about hydrus watercolors (and professional art supplies in general) is that they are available in in sets and as individual paints. If you want to try them but don’t want to commit to an entire set you can order individual colors from places like dick Blick. You can also order replacements as needed.  If I was going to recomend a set to start with it would be Set 1. It contains a great selection of primary colors that allow for great color mixing. My most used individual colors are the  Hansa Yellow Light, gamboge, vermillion hue, crimson lake,  Ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, and Quinacridone magenta,

If you are interest here is a list of the supplies I used for this Painting:

Hydrus watercolors

Arches Cold Press watercolor paper

Silver Black Velvet Brushes

Palette 

Masking Fluid

Rubber Cement Pickup 

To give you some other examples of what can be created using Dr Ph Martins Hydrus watercolors here are some other paintings I have created using these watercolors.

If you have any questions or would like more information about these watercolors please leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

Best Watercolors for Children and Beginners

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I am regularly asked about what watercolors I would recommend for this person or that, for a specific budget, or purpose. I decided I would do a series where I review various watercolors and talk about their quality, pros, cons, and who I would recommend them for.

This is my first installment in the new series and I will be talking about inexpensive watercolors I would recommend for children, teens, and beginners.  I also discuss some of the signs of when its time to start to move up in quality as your kids progress in art.

You can find these paints at big box stores like walmart, hobby lobby, and Michael’s. The crayola paints can be found on sale in the fall right before school starts. These can also be purchased online, I found Dick Blick had the best deals for them.

Crayola Watercolors

Prang watercolors

Sakura koi Watercolors 

If you have any questions or want to request specific watercolor you would like me to review leave them in the comments down below,

-Lauren

Mungyo Soft Pastel 64 set Review and Pastel Demonstration

I have been on the hunt for an affordable and good quality soft pastel set that is also non-toxic. When getting art supplies for kids is really important to make sure that they are using non-toxic supplies. Children aren’t always the best with washing their hands and cleaning up their work space. This is especially important with pastels because you are touching the pigment directly instead of using a paint brush. Pastels can create a lot of dust that can get unintended surfaces like drinking cups.

Overall, I think the Mungyo soft pastels are a great option for children and beginners who are experimenting with soft pastels and want to learn how to use them without the pressure of using expensive materials. They offered a good range of colors and had a mix of bright colors and along with neutrals. I was especially impressed with their neutral greens in the set. They will be useful for anyone trying to paint a landscape.

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They were a good medium softness which made it easy to get a lot of layers down without having to be overly cautious about filling in the tooth of the paper too quickly. My only struggle with this set is that there weren’t a lot of really dark colors. To work around this you could do an underpainting with really dark inks/watercolors, use a dark toned paper, or buy other open stock pastels in brands that carry better darks like Terry Ludwig.

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Here is a closer look at the still life drawing I did with the pastels. They layered really nicely on the sanded paper. Here is the list of tools and supplies that I used or talked about in the video.

*MATERIALS & TOOLS USED OR MENTIONED*

(Affiliate Links)

Mungyo Soft Pastels https://goo.gl/ScmgKu

Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Uart Sanded Paper https://goo.gl/2Uf46y

Stiff brush https://goo.gl/t2SVof

Plastic Pallet Knives https://goo.gl/nskzKU

Beach Flowers: Beginner Soft Pastel Tutorial

Beach Flowers
Beach Flowers – Soft Pastels

I enjoyed painting the last beach scene so much that I decided to do one more. This time I got my reference photo from the website called Paint My Photo. It’s a great website to get reference photos for artists. This website allows you to use the photos as references in your commercial work. Unfortunately, The rules on that website restrict me from showing you the actually photo here on my website. So here is a link to where you can get the reference picture. You just need to create a login in for it. The picture is from Pauline West.

I started my painting process buy first picking out the supplies and pastels I need. The pastels I am using are a mix of Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils, Prisma color nupastels and Jack Richeson Soft Pastels. The harder pastels will be used for the under painting and details. I also made sure to pick a variety of values (lights and darks) in each color family. This will allow me to create contrast and depth in my picture without relying on straight black and white pastels as much. Nothing wrong with white and black pastels but if you only use those for your highlights and shadows your picture can look flat and uninteresting.

Color Palette

I also picked our warm tones and cool tones of each color family. Having warm and cool selection in each color family can aid in color mixing and layering. Every color will either have a warm undertone, be neutral, or have a cool undertone.   For example, a warm toned blue would be a Phthalo blue because It has some green undertones. In contrast a cool blue would be a ultramarine because it tends to be closer to purple on the color wheel. I’m working on a tutorial to explain and demonstrate this more clearly. For now I’ve posted a picture below to help demonstrate what I mean on the actual colors I’m using.

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The rest of this supplies I’ll be using are 600 Grit Uart sanded pastel paper cut down to a 6×11” size, Krylon workable fixative, Generic rubbing alcohol, an old stiff bristled paint brush for blending out the under painting, a size 1 round white taklon brush for applying the ink (any old acrylic brush with a fine point will work), purple and black waterproof ink I’m using Dr Ph Maritns Bombay India ink, plastic pallet knives, and rubber shapers. You can use a traditional blending stump if you don’t have rubber shapers.

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This painting took me about three hours to complete from start to finish. The video is significantly sped up so feel free to slow the video down and/or pause it as you work through the various steps. I also find it beneficial to watch the video all the way through before starting your project. That way you are more comfortable with the process and know what to do next.

Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail:

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil https://goo.gl/qgq9ew

Jack Richeson Soft Pastels https://goo.gl/kPCgvn

NuPastels https://goo.gl/Bf3aBV

Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Uart Sanded Paper https://goo.gl/2Uf46y

Krylon Workable fixative https://goo.gl/aKKaVn

Rubber shaper https://goo.gl/rhDSEk

Plastic Pallet Knives https://goo.gl/nskzKU

Oil brush https://goo.gl/t2SVof

White Taklon Brush https://goo.gl/oNrgWj

T-Ruler https://goo.gl/GZRy1v

Heat Tool https://goo.gl/vNCg1p

(Affiliate Links)

If you would like to purchase the original painting you can do so here.

If you would like to request specific tutorial or have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

Mothers Love Speed Painting and Tutorial

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If you have been following my journey you know that one of my goals for 2018 is to start a YouTube channel and create painting tutorials. I am doing this as a way to help me get used to teaching my art process so that I can offer classes and eventually be able to travel the world giving art demonstrations. Teaching lessons online is a great away for me to develop those skills. Over the past few weeks I have been utilizing my Iphone to learn how to make videos and tutorials. I have even posted a few on to my YouTube channel.

Well today, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone a little further and create a voice over for my latest video instead of just having it be a speed painting with music. I was super nervous doing it because I have never had to explain the how and the why of what I’m doing as I paint. It’s going to take some time and practice to get used to it but I am very proud of the fact that I did it even though I was nervous. We can’t improve on anything in life until we take the time to actually practice it. Thats why I can no longer remember how to play the piano, much to my mothers dismay.

The picture I am painting in this video is a commission I was asked to do as a gift for an OBGYN. When the client came to me with her idea for the painting I was ecstatic. I love doing bright, colorful, contemporary, and personal watercolor paintings and this fell into all those categories. It even inspired a whole series of colorful anatomy paintings that I will talk about and have available this Thursday.

Below is a list of the supplies and materials I used to create this piece and I’ve added links to where they can be purchased if your interested.

Mijello Mission Gold watercolors https://goo.gl/rNnRkt

Dr PH Martins White Bombay ink https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Mimik Synthetic Squirrel Brushes https://goo.gl/rqHEVR

Royal & Langnickel Brushes https://goo.gl/F5puvU

Arches Watercolor Paper https://goo.gl/iqjUfE

Pik Up Eraser https://goo.gl/8XShGW

Fine line Masking fluid https://goo.gl/bkaqpi

Kosher Salt

(Amazon Affiliate links)

I chose to use Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors because they were the least staining of my vibrant watercolors. The brighter the watercolor the more they tend to stain. For the techniques I typically use in my paintings I like having colors that stain because of the way they layer. However, the problem with staining colors is the obvious…they stain the paper and make it so the color is difficult to lift off. For this painting I knew I wanted add blooms to my piece using kosher salt and by dripping water on to the paper. For that to work I needed a paint that could lift off to some degree. This paint did that while still being very colorful and vibrant. The colors I used for this specific painting were: Red Violet, Bright Clear Violet, Cobalt Blue, Peacock Blue, Ultramarine Deep, and Yellow Green.

I also used Dr Ph Martins white india ink. It is a great ink to use when using watercolors because it is waterproof. You can put layers of watercolor over the top of it without reactivating it unlike a lot of gouache paints. It’s a semi-opaque when used as a watercolor but when applied in multiple layers it can become opaque.

The Mimik Brushes are my favorite watercolor brushes because they have a great point to them, aren’t to floppy, and hold a large amount of water and paint. I like using the Royal and Langnickel (R&L) brushes for ink instead of the watercolor brushes. Sometimes acrylic inks can be hard on on the fine bristles of the watercolor brush and I don’t want to risk ruining those. The R&L brushes are really economical and are sturdy enough to handle the ink without an issue.

Arches cold press paper is my go to watercolor paper. I love how absorbent it is, it helps the paint flow beautifully, and holds onto the pigment really well. Its also a sturdy paper and can handle many layers and vigorous scrubbing without getting damaged.

The fine line masking fluid is great because I can add masking fluid directly on the paper in tiny amounts without the risk of ruining a paintbrush. The pik up eraser and other rubber cement erasers are the best way I’ve found to remove masking fluid from your paper with out damaging it. In the video I couldn’t find mine so I used a clean rag (made from an old burp cloth) and rubbed it on the picture to get the masking fluid off. It worked fine but it took more work to do it that way.

For the salt I used Kosher salt because the bigger pieces create larger blooms. You can also use regular table salt for this you’ll just use a little more of it to get the larger blooms.

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Thanks for watching and if you have any questions about this painting or would like me to talk about any specific things in the realm of art, watercolors, pastels, running an art business, etc. let me know in the comments down and I will try to answer those questions.

-Lauren