Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guest Artist at The Oil Pastel Review, Bethany Gladkowski

I'm really delighted that Bethany Gladkowski is the Guest Artist here at the Oil Pastel Review!  Here are some examples of her oil pastel work and her review of oil pastel supports.  I know you will find today's post both charming and enlightening.  Thank you Bethany!

1.  Dawn 
2.  Dawn - wip 
3.  Peacock Feather 
4.  Rebecca 


First, let me say that I'm so honored to be a part of Oil Pastel Review. Connie's work has always been an inspiration to me from the time I first started working with oil pastels. We can all learn so much from each other as artists, and what a great way to share techniques. Thank you for having me!


Today I'd like to talk about my experience with hardboard. 
For such a versatile medium, there are very few supports made specifically for oil pastels. We find ourselves constantly experimenting with new surfaces to use. Hardboard, or its original brand name, Masonite, has a lot of great qualities for oil pastels. I’ve tried several and feel like I’m getting very close to the perfect combination of tooth and brand. Here are a few of my experiments:
1.       Masonite (1/8") with Gesso Canvas Primer applied with a 2” paint brush.                                                                            
2.       Masonite with Gesso Canvas Primer applied with foam roller, sanded between layers
3.       Untreated hardboard primed with Gesso Canvas Primer and Golden Coarse Molding paste
4.       Ampersand pre-primed gesso board with texture
The brush strokes in the first experiment provided quite adequate tooth for the pastels. I’d do this again. (Rebecca) I put three or four layers of Gesso on this board, front only. 
Side note: one benefit of the primed hardboard is that fixing mistakes becomes a breeze. Any irretrievable strokes are easily wiped away with rubbing alcohol on a cloth or Q-Tip. It’s like an eraser! That’s hard to do with unprimed paper.
The foam roller made a very smooth surface and the pastels just slimed over each other. Once I let the first layer of pastel cure a day, I was able to go over it with more layers, then finish the background with oil stick. It just didn’t supply enough tooth for my style of painting. I don’t recommend smooth rolled primer for OP’s. (Dawn)
The untreated hardboard is a bit thinner than the Masonite, more flexible, and super cheap. It is a perfectly good surface once primed (both sides – if you only prime one side, it will bow.)  The lighter weight is a big advantage if you frame your work or use larger sizes. The coarse molding paste was sooo much fun to paint over, but it literally ground up my pastels and ate them for lunch. Gesso sells a fine pumice gel, and you can also add your own sand to the primer, which I have done but not tried painting yet. Looking forward to that experiment.  (This one is on hardboard with coarse molding paste: Dawn 2 - wip)
Finally, my local art store gave away free 3x5” samples of the Ampersand pre-primed board that I was so excited to try with my new metallic Shiva oil pastels…sadly, even the board with a slight tooth did not live up to my expectations. It just wasn’t enough to grab, and it ended up smooshing the color around even on the first layer.  (Peacock Feather)
In summary, the pre-primed boards hold a lot of promise. The convenience of not having to prime the surface (as much?) and its sturdiness makes hardboard my go-to surface now for oil pastels.  Give it a try! 

Thanks so much, Bethany!  I know everyone enjoyed seeing your work and hearing of your experiences with different supports - it was a pleasure having you visit with us at the Oil Pastel Review!

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