Thursday, January 30, 2014


"The greatest thing you can do is surprise yourself." Steve Martin

I have surprised myself this month. Doing the 30 paintings in 30 days has kept be very focused, very busy and surprised at all that I  accomplished. I have stated before I do not really get a painting a day done, I work on several backgrounds at a time. I find it usually takes me 3 days to do these little oils. The pastels vary between 1 1/2 - 2 days for these little works. All in all it has been a very good month.

Yesterday, was a nice surprise too. The steaming process that is attributed to Degas techniques worked pretty well. Ruth & I started by putting a ground with texture, pumice or aluminum oxide to a gel medium or gesso. After that was dry we started our paintings with soft stick pastels, blocking in the colors. To the steamer, we used a clothing steamer. You need to watch for it dripping and spitting water.

Degas used a palette knife and or brush to push the pastel around in this state. It becomes a thick watercolor. Once it dries it is back to powder again but the texture remains. Continuing on we added details, steam a second time, the colors darken as it steams but return pretty close to what was applied. The whites are lost some but not near as much as I thought. One more application of details a final steaming.

After the paintings dried in the sun, we sprayed them with UV Protective sealer, 2-3 coats, then Used Matt Spray around 4 good sprays, may require more depending on how heavy the application of pastels is on the individual painting. Check in between sprays on each: dark, bright and light area. Different pastels dry differently. Once we were done with the spraying the works are sealed and protected.

It was a good day. I did two drawings with my experiment, used the same image but did one on the primed canvas and one on Rives BFK which I had mounted on a canvas board. They both worked beautifully.

Today is the final day of 30-30 and the beginning of paper making.

Ruth painting in soft pastels, after 1st steaming

Ruth's pastel painting, finished after steaming and sealing

Ruth steaming one of her pastels

Linda's soft pastel on primed canvas

Linda's soft pastel on Rives BFK paper

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