Readers of this blog have seen how I typically begin a pastel painting by creating an underpainting of the large shapes and value structure of the composition, then overpainting with more detailed, textured strokes. Recently, however, I was re-reading a back issue of The Pastel Journal and came across an article by an artist who works directly on black paper. Intrigued by the strong value effects and sparkling colours this artist's work displayed, I decided to give it a go. Not having the structure of an underpainting to rely upon meant that I had to plan my composition more carefully--I wanted the black paper to peek through the pastel strokes in places, so I was aiming for a fresh, simple stroke structure without a lot of layering. This meant I had to be more sure of each stroke before I made it, with less room for correction. As soon as I got the hang of that, however, I loved the results--see some below. Those attending the studio tour last week responded well to it, and one of these works has sold since the tour, so I think I'll keep exploring this approach!