Pastel on Black Backgrounds

I spent Saturday at the local Artists Guild at a workshop on pastel painting on dark (black) backgrounds (The workshop was given by Betsy Payne Cooke, a local pastel artist.).  The morning part of the workshop started with doing a small sketch of a photograph to be painted. I chose a photograph of a view of Little Sippewissett Marsh.  The object of the morning exercise was to do the identical pastel painting (with identical pastel colors) first on a 8×10 white sheet of Canson paper and then repeating the painting using a similar sheet of black Canson paper.  The object was to see the difference the background color made and also see how the black paper allowed for using negative space to represent dark areas of the painting.  Here, side by side are the two paintings:

Identical scenes, identical colors.
On the left is black Canson paper, on the right is white Canson paper.

Also, here is a cropped photo of the Marsh Painting done on the black background:

Little Sippewissett Marsh – 9×6 pastel on black Canson paper

The afternoon of the workshop was devoted to doing another pastel painting, this time using a 9×12 piece of Black Art Spectrum sanded paper, a paper which holds more of the pastel pigment and allows a more painterly approach.  I used a photograph from a visit to the Poore Family Farm Museum in Colebrook, NH; I chose the photograph because of the wonderful dark areas of the photograph that lent themselves to using the dark background.  Here’s the painting of the porch of the museum; the building really is tilting as depicted in the painting.

At the Poore Family Farm Museum 9×12 Pastel on Black Sanded Paper

Painting with black backgrounds is an interesting technique, one I hope to use more when I am depicting scenes that have interesting dark areas.  The dark paper really does enhance the colors that are used as well.  What an interesting and profitable workshop!


One thought on “Pastel on Black Backgrounds

  1. What an interesting technique! I really like the Marsh painting done on the black paper. It makes the colors stand out – they seem more vibrant, somehow.

    Love you!

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