Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Painting Spring Color with an Alcohol Wash

'The Road to Renewal'                 8x10            pastel        ©Karen Margulis
purchase here $145
It felt like cheating.  Underpaintings can give our paintings a head start. When I first tried an alcohol wash underpainting I was surprised at how far along the painting seemed with just the underpainting. The underpainting provided a value map and a start on color. The bonus was the interesting drips that came from the evaporation of the alcohol.  I was hooked.  But I get bored with the same techniques so I   am always using a different method of starting a painting.

It was time to revisit the alcohol wash underpainting. Spring color was the perfect subject.





  •  I wanted to keep it simple so I chose two values of blue Nupastels to block in my shapes. You don't have to press hard or cover the entire surface since the alcohol will spread the pastel.  You do need to use paper that can get wet. I am using an 8x10 piece of Uart 500 grit.  I could use other colors but I just want to make a value map. Keep it simple!
  • I used a cheap bristle brush and some isopropyl alcohol to wet the pastel.  I use the brush to paint my shapes and not just wet them down. I start with the lightest shapes. I take my time! 
  • I like to have drips occur but I don't want the paper so wet that everything washes together.
  • Once the alcohol is dry I apply my pastels. I used mostly Great American pastels for this painting.
  • Just like with the watercolor underpainting in my recent post....I try to have restraint and not cover up all of the drips!



Have you noticed that early spring foliage is a lot like fall color only a bit softer?

3 comments:

Carole Scureman said...

Beautiful! Love this idea of the wash. Your colors are so fresh. Thanks for sharing. Carole

debbie dick said...

WHERE DO YOU GET THE FRAME WITH THE PAINTED WOOD MAT? I AM ANXIOUS TO TRY THE ALCOHOL WASH. YOU ARE AMAZINGLY PROLIFIC WITH THESE LOVELY PAINTINGS!

Melissa Gallo said...

Karen this painting is absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to study with you!