Posted in pastel painting, underpainting

Pastel and Watercolor Underpainting Fun!

Sneak peek of “A Daisy Summer”


Welcome Summer!  It’s almost upon us, and with the recent heat and humidity I’ve turned to the air-conditioned comfort of my little studio.

This summer finds me wanting to combine my two favorite mediums: pastel and watercolor!

Now I love watercolor, but I am no watercolorist… so where to begin?  For help I followed a demonstration by blogger/artist Karen Margulis ( and was able to paint my version of a field of daisies using a watercolor underpainting. And I have to say it was a lot of fun!

Before jumping into the watercolor, I did my homework and created three quick thumbnail sketches to plan out my composition and values. These are very small. Literally, 1 1/2 x 2 inches. The first is an outline helping me place the major shapes. In the middle is my four values map. And finally, my black and white notan to help me see the light and dark mass shapes.

Next came the watercolor! I worked vertically on my easel using Canson Touch sanded paper, an old, oil painting bristle brush (round), and a variety of watercolor paints (artist grade).

I know some say you don’t have to use artist grade paints for an underpainting; however, I planned to allow some of the underpainting to show after the application of pastel, so I wanted the pigments to be lightfast and archival.

Here is the finished watercolor underpainting.

Next I began to apply pastel. First the darks; then the sky.

Now the petal shadows.

Time for some lighter values on the petals and the flower heads. Also some green stems and grasses.

Adding aerial perspective with pale purplish-blue flowers.

Finally, I softened most of the edges of the flowers not in my focal point, and added some life with a few bumblebees.  Another first for me!

Definitely brought some life to the finished painting!

“A Daisy Summer” 9×12 pastel, copyright Rhonda Sorrells


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed combining the process of loose watercolor painting followed by pastels. I will definitely be trying this again!


Rhonda is an artist, violinist, mountain dulcimer player, composer/arranger, homeschool mom, and chicken/goat farmer. To purchase her fine art, visit

5 thoughts on “Pastel and Watercolor Underpainting Fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s