Batiking With Pastel
A Universe of My Own - Pastel Batik
Although I do not claim to have invented the technique of pastel "batik", it is an approach to pastel painting that I have come to enjoy immensely. Not only is it an easy technique to master, it brings with it an element of surprise.
I have given workshops in pastel batik - and to help my students - I call the technique "G.P.S." which stands for "Gum-Pastel-Solvent" (and when in doubt where you are in the process - apply solvent and start over!)
In traditional batik on fabric, bees wax is used as a resist to protect the underlying colour(s) of the fabric during successive dying. After the final dye, the wax is removed to reveal the all the colours and designs.
In pastel batik, the resist is gum arabic which dissolves in water -but does not dissolve in mineral spirits or paint thinner (generally sold in art stores in an "odourless" form).
I would like to share this techniqus with you on my blog. If you are interested - read on!
1. Soft pastels: Although you can use any brand of pastel in the batik process, I prefer using the cheap brands - you use so much pastel. I use better quality pastels (like Rembrandt, Sennelier, Unison, Schminke, etc.) in the finishing stages.
2. Gum Arabic: Sold as a liquid for use in lithography or watercolour. The gum for lithography is generally brownish in colour and cheaper than the colorless variety sold for use in watercolour painting.
3. Solvent: Odorless mineral spirits, turpentine, turpenoid, varsol, paint thinner will all do nicely - although I generally use the first. Caution must be used with these materials. Use only in a ventilated area and use appropriate protection (masks, gloves, etc.).
4. Surface: Watercolour paper - I prefer cold pressed 200 - 300 lb. paper, although 80 - 140 lb. paper is o.k. for smaller works - or experimenting. For "serious" pieces, I use 300 lb. paper.
In the G.P.S. system of pastel batik (like any other batik process) you work from light to dark.
1. G - Apply the gum arabic where you want to have "white" (or the colour of the paper). You can draw with a brush, flick droplets, tilt the paper to allow the gum to run - however you want. Let the gum dry thoroughly.
2. P - Rub the entire surface with a light coloured pastel (cream, yellow, pale blue or green) or combination of pastels. Using your fingers - or a rag, work the pastel into the paper thoroughly.
3. S - Using an old brush, paint the surface of the paper with the solvent being sure to wet the entire surface and blending the pigment into the paper. Allow to dry.
4. Repeat the process as many times as you want each time going to a darker colour. As indicated before, if you lose track of where you are in the process, apply solvent - and then return to the gum step. Use colours of your choice. I generally end with a dark purple or even black.
5. When you have finished the last layer be sure to let the paper dry thoroughly. Polish with a piece of paper towel to remove as much of the loose pigment from the surface as possible. (This is not essential, but generally leads to a better product.)
6. Now for the good part! Wash the gum off the paper with lots of water. Running under the tap (luke warm water) in a laundry sink is good. Hosing it off with the garden hose also works.
Gently rub the surface with your hand or a soft sponge to remove stubborn bits of gum.
7. When all the gum has been removed, let the excess water drain off, blot with clean newsprint, and dry between newsprint under pressure (I use masonite boards.) Change the newsprint often until the painting is bone dry.
8. Work over your designs with pastel (I use "good" pastels in this step) - to taste.
The results will surprise and delight you - you are only limited by your imagination!