I’ve been experimenting with using a very light transparent oil/turp wash on either gessoboard or on this Georgian brand oil-primed paper that’s intended for oils. Since the oil paint is so thin and the surfaces are somewhat porous, the wash soaks in and dries almost immediately. Once it’s really set, I’ve been coating the boards with Liquitex clear gesso that has a slight tooth to it when brushed onto a smooth surface – enough tooth for applying pastels with a light touch. I have been working a little more realistically in my pastel paintings recently and it may be due to that light touch factor.
This one – “Sunk” has been fun to do. The first image is my photo reference, the second image is the oil/turp wash that’s been coated with a layer of clear gesso, the third image is my refined drawing and hard pastel block-in, and the last is the final painting after I finished with the soft pastel layers. I had to keep that light touch going in applying the soft pastel layers so it wouldn’t appear chalky with all the light value areas.
Pastel on oil wash
Also, here’s a detail of the boat (bottom photo). You can see the paper ‘weave’ thru the pastel layers, giving it a feeling of paint on a canvas – but it’s pastel on paper! I will continue to experiment with this surface prep technique.
I also have two large semi-abstract marsh/water scenes in the works as well, and will want them to have some boldness in them – so I may have to fiddle with the gesso layer for a heavier tooth effect. You can see their oil/turp/clear gesso starts in the “Work in Progress” section of this website.