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How to mix acrylic and pastel to paint a peony: Peony Exuberance

how to mix pastels and acrylic to paint a mixed media peony flower
Painting technique / Step by step demonstrations

How to mix acrylic and pastel to paint a peony: Peony Exuberance

Acrylic paint and pastels are two media that are working very well together, learn how to paint a peony with a few simple steps.

Peony Exuberance : How to paint a peony with acrylic and pastels

pictures of peonies

This is the picture I used as a reference, I took it in my front yard. I liked the composition and the shape of the petals but the whole picture was too pink to my taste and a bit too much on the cold side in terms of colors.

acrylic painting step by step : red under painting

Starting with a flat colored underpainting has many advantages:

  • It will unify the colors of the painting by adding a bit of the same underpainting color everywhere
  • You don’t start with a scary blank canvas
  • Some of that underpainting color will show in places throughput the painting.

Red, orange and blue are commonly chosen colors for underpaintings.

Let this first layer dry completely.

drawing with a white pencil on canvas

You can start by drawing  the outlines of your flower quite loosely the red underpainting with a white china pencil.

drawing on canvas

Close up of the drawing.

acrylic painting step by step : painting layers

I start applying layers of acrylic, with 3 colors that are corresponding more or less to my mid tones, highlights and dark.

acrylic painting step by step : painting layers

Then I am adding dark purple in the shades.

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Amsterdam Expert Series Acrylic Sets

The well-balanced sets are chosen from Amsterdam’s full range of 70 genuine artists’ colors, formulated with high concentrations of authentic, non-fading pigments. These heavy body paints are exceptionally durable and flexible due to their 100% acrylic resin formulation. – Expert Series Set of 12

painting of peonies, adding red and orange

I start to introduce some orange to balance the pink.

painting of peonies, glazing white acrylic

You can add more light with layers of semi transparent white ( white acrylic diluted with medium)

painting of peonies, painting the background

Keep on adding layers, trying  to have some of the previous layers show at the edges.

painting with dry pastels on top of acrylic

Once the acrylic paint has dried, you can start adding pastels on top of the acrylic, this is a great method to try on some color compositions as you can just wash off the pastels if you don’t like the result. If you like what you did paint with the pastels, fix them with workable fixative so you can keep on adding layers of acrylic or pastel and they won’t smudge.

painting techniques, layering colors

Keep on adding colors until you are satisfied with the result, alternating layers of acrylic and pastels. Here I added more yellow, orange and green acrylic layers.

painting techniques, layering colors

Adjust colors until you are satisfied with the result.

You might also be interested in: Checklist for successful paintings, be your own critic

original mixed media flower painting

The finished painting: Peony Exuberance, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 36 inches
Original is sold- Prints available on Fine Art America

5/5 - (2 votes)

Comments (8)

  1. Diane

    Beautiful! I love how you think outside the box and make it work so well. What kind of workable fixative do you recommend that is archival, and also works with oil pastels? I get overwhelmed by the different choices, brands, and formulas. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Diane 🙂
      As a fixative I like to use Krylon workable fixative in my mixed media works because it works very well on different media including Watercolor or ink, and you can rework once you sprayed as many times as you want.

  2. […] Peony exuberance: mixed media on canvas […]

  3. […] Peony exuberance: mixed media on canvas […]

  4. […] Peony exuberance: mixed media on canvas […]

  5. […] Peony exuberance: mixed media on canvas […]

  6. I really like seeing the stages of your work, Sandrine. I see, I think, that all those first layers contribute to the fullness you achieve, in the long run, in your finished paintings. I like this series very much. I had seen two of them, previously and the two you have added are great, also. What I like the best about your series is that they are different, but all look great together.

    1. Thanks Leslie! I noticed that whatever the media I use I am now almost always working in layers, because I get better colors and interesting edges. I can’t go to the studio most of July and August because my kids are at home, so I miss painting 🙂 Anyway I found that usually taking a break is good for painting, you get back to it with more enthusiasm .
      I really like the new works you are posting on your blog, gorgeous colors and textures. Makes me want to add a bit more collage on my paintings!

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