Pairing Watercolors with Pastels

Watercolor also works quite well with pastel, which is a chalk-like, opaque drawing medium. You can use a watercolor wash as background and apply pastel over the top to draw on or to cover over the watercolor. When I first started to watercolor, the results were sometimes less than fabulous. Adding a layer of pastel over the watercolor frequently saved a painting. A white pastel can return white to an area where it was lost.

Pastels come in different shapes. The stick allows you to draw a wide area using the side. The pencils have a nice point and are good for detail and tight spots. They’re also especially good for signing your name when you finish a painting. You can use pastels in any scene. I used it in Figure in the engine’s steam.

If you’re using pastels, do your watercolor painting first. Watercolor doesn’t go over pastels without making a slight mess. I should also warn you that pastels will rub off – on your hands, on your clothes, on anything it touches.


Mixing in acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is a polymer-based paint that is water-soluble until dry. When dry it’s permanent and can’t be easily lifted. It can be painted opaquely, which means that you can’t see through it.

Some artists mix acrylic with watercolor. For example, say you want something to not be removable. Maybe you want a background that won’t lift when you add the next layer. Acrylic is permanent after it’s dry and would be a good choice. You can also use acrylic to paint over the top of – dare I say?- a mistake. In Figure, I painted the poppies with acrylic paint over a watercolor wash background. The white is from paint instead of saved paper.


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