Firstly, I thank you for your generous and invaluable tips and critiques, very much appreciated.From back when I was messing with pastels and wishing I could get the brilliance of a Degas. Still don't know exactly why not.
First of all, I don't think any artist ever surpassed Degas when it came to the use of pastel. I notice you used brown craft paper. That has a tooth... but it doesn't create the best color for beneath pastels. I use a very heavy grade brown paper, but I prime this with a very matte acrylic. Degas often primed his papers with red (citing the underpainting in Venetian painting) of green. This gives an even greater tooth and allows for repeated erasures. It appears your brighter areas are applied over layers of very dark green, blue, or even black. Why?
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Degas' brilliant and more saturated areas make up a much larger percentage of the overall surface area and they are clearly built up in layers. There are dark and neutral passages... but even these appear to be built up in layers of color. Contrary to the stereotype of the term "pastel colors" pastels can be the most incredibly saturated colors. One trick that Degas used was to employ steam to slightly soften the pastel... sometimes creating a pastel that was as soft as paste and could be applied in an almost impasto manner. I would play around with combinations of colors and brands (what brand(s) of pastel are you using?) to see what the results are. I'm not a pastel purist as I employ acrylic, gold leaf, color pencil, and other media... but from what I've read on Degas, he was no pastel purist either. His paintings were quite often mixed-media making use of charcoal, conte, watercolor, and gouache as well as pastel.
Hey SLG - Sorry for the late reply, I thought I had made a reply, but I never posted it apparently.I used the paper unprimed in my earlier pastel/mixed-media works. The problem was that after a number of corrections (erasure) the surface of the paper would change as the fibers broke down and this would change the appearance. I'm now running out of the paper I've been using and I am looking at a paper by Lennox that I used back in art school. An online artist friend draws very large and recommended Lennox because you can get it in rolls that are 48" or even 60" by 10 yards. I also like the way in which a reddish under-painting helps to unify the painting as a whole as it sparkles through.
“It appears your brighter areas are applied over layers of very dark green, blue, or even black. Why?”
I thought the pastels were so opaque that it wouldn’t make any difference what was underneath. That is why I asked you before about how you erase mistakes, as I was just getting a mess and loosing what little tooth there was on the ungessoed paper.
Well... pastels are opaque just as oil paints or acrylics are opaque. If you have a base color that is very dark (and especially black) it can take a good number of layers to really cover. And You also have the problem of the top layer sinking into the black. Whenever I make the decision to change colors from a very dark or black to something brighter I will paint over the area with a reddish-brown layer of acrylic or two.
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I do build up layers from dark to light... but I never start a passage too dark.
I'm not familiar with Mungyo but the price suggests it's something like the first pastels I used. Then again... the brand seems to have a spectrum of quality and hardness. Rembrandt are fine medium-hard pastels. I would say they are my "go-to" brand for 80% of the surface. For fine details, I use Prismacolor NuPastel. Sennelier is a soft pastel with incredibly saturated colors. I use it just as aa used real cadmiums when I was painting in oils... for the final layer. When I first tried Sennelier I bought two sticks as they were price at over $6 each. Using them I was immediately sold. I built up my collection of colors over time. I have them organized in cases by the hues: reds, blues, greens, etc...