So when I was a girl, like most girls, I loved ANYTHING with glitter! I mean it was the '70's and disco was the latest craze with pink satin jackets and "Bead-dazzled" rhinestones.
But, like most girls, I grew out of it. Glitter became kitschy and cheap, and I avoided it like the kiss of death.
When I first saw iridescent pastels, I though they were gimmicky, like glitter, and promptly avoided them. Oh sure, I use glittery paint for craft projects but never for fine art.
Then one day, at my favorite candy store; Mount Vision Pastels in Tampa, I saw a boxed set of iridescent pastels and that little disco queen inside me stirred awake and said "YES!" I took them home and they began to find their way into almost every painting. First, it was subtle, a little iridescent white in the foam of a cresting wave. Then everything I painted started to beg for a little bling! Spanish moss needed a little iridescent blue, water needed iridescent sparkle on it, shells definitely need iridescence.
Recently, I made a storm painting with iridescence in the sky and the water and realized that I couldn't imagine making a painting now without a little sparkle in it. The added texture and surface works brilliantly with pastel.
Here's a few tips for using iridescent pastels successfully:
Remember that they don't have a lot of tinting power so put a layer of pigment down first and scumble the iridescent on top of it for maximum effect.
Iridescent is very soft and should be the last layer, if you put any color on top of iridescent it will lost it's bling.
Iridescent is powdery and will flake off onto glass so make sure and use a non-static cling dryer sheet against the glass or plexiglas before you frame the painting. A mat or spacer would work better than passe-par-tout method.
Refrain from using it everywhere; a little judicious touch of sparkle works better than all over glazing!
Some non-glare and museum glass with cut the sparkle of iridescence a bit.
Less is more! If you use iridescence everywhere, you water down the effect.
Many pastel manufacturers now offer iridescent pastels including Sennelier, Mount Vision, SoHo, Diane Townsend, Great American Artworks (pearlescents) and Pan Pastels (pearlescents). Sennelier and Mount Vision both have large sizes that fit nicely into your palm for working large scale. I'm partial to Mount Vision because of the huge variety of colors, and smooth application you get from thier pastels.
To achieve the luminous texture of iridescent pastel, many makers combined powdered mica or aluminum silicate with pigment and binder. This is a very fragile mixture, and only works if left unblended (pure strokes). As soon as you touch the pastel you break the crystalline edges which dulls the shine and color. This is why you have to use the iridescent on top of other colors or as a last layer.
Some of my favorite pastel artists use iridescents and have described them as...
"adding a little glamour to any painting" -Gail Sibley
"the Fine Jewelry of pastels!" -Karen Margulis
If you use iridescents, I'd love to hear what you think about them. Please leave me a comment below or send an email...