Today’s reader question comes from a reader who wants a little advice (and encouragement!) on using PanPastels under colored pencil. Here’s her question.
On under paintings for colored pencil, could I cheat and use pan pastels?
Using PanPastels Under Colored Pencil
Is Using PanPastels Cheating?
The first thing I need to point out is that using PanPastels under colored pencils is not cheating. Doing an under painting with PanPastels is no different than creating an under painting with watercolor, India Ink, or markers.
It’s simply another method of drawing.
However, any time you mix media, you need to be mindful of the characteristics and limitations of the second media. Here are a couple of things to remember when using PanPastels under colored pencils.
Things to Remember When Mixing PanPastels and Colored Pencils
First, PanPastels work best when you rub them into the tooth of the paper because they’re basically only powdered pigment with very little binder. That’s what makes them so easy to blend.
So you want to use a paper with enough tooth to hold the PanPastel pigment firmly. That usually means a paper made for pastels. Any type of sanded pastel paper is your best option. These papers never run out of tooth and you can use colored pencils on them.
But Canson Mi-Teintes is also made for pastel, so it’s a good choice if you don’t want to use sanded art papers.
Second, use PanPastels sparingly in the areas where you plan to apply colored pencil. PanPastels fill the tooth of the paper enough to fill in all those paper holes, but if you use too much, colored pencil may not stick.
Some artists use a spray fixative on their pastel work, so that might be of help to you. It will definitely secure the PanPastel.
It may also cause some discoloration, so do a test swatch on scrap paper first (preferably the same type of paper you want to draw on.)
Most of the artists I’ve spoken with on this subject say they prefer not to use fixatives, or to use a fixative only on the finished piece. They tell me that rubbing the PanPastel into the paper is sufficient.
Third, do all the PanPastel work you want to do before adding colored pencils. The binding agent in colored pencils helps them stick to PanPastels. But PanPastels are not likely to stick to colored pencils very well.
I hope that helps. I’ve never used PanPastels, though the more I learn about them, the more curious I get.
Much more information is available from the PanPastel company website. A variety of instructional videos are available on using PanPastels alone and in combination other mediums. It’s a great place to learn more about this unique medium.