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Monday, December 12, 2016

Alcohol or Water Wash? Which is Better?


'Up in the Cardinal Tree'        8x10        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
When it works it really works! It is a bit unpredictable but that is part of the excitement. Anytime that pastel is washed with a liquid it creates a whole new wonderful world! The dry pastel turns into paint and interesting things can happen. I love the possibilities!

Pastel can be liquified with any liquid. Water is an easy choice and I use it often. I also love to use rubbing alcohol and odorless mineral spirits. So which is better? It is a personal preference but I give the edge to rubbing alcohol.

The application of dry pastel. I used a few harder Nupastels

  •  Rubbing alcohol dries a bit faster than water. Since it quickly evaporates it doesn't sit on the paper leading to less chance of buckling.
  • Rubbing alcohol can create some interesting spider web-like drips. Click on the photos below to see them closer. The results are unpredictable so I am always excited when I get some good runs like I did here. When I get some interesting drips it becomes my goal to allow as much of this underpainting as possible to show in the finished painting.
Tips for an alcohol wash: You need to use a surface that can get wet. Most sanded papers will work even when unmounted. Some artists prefer Pastelbord by Ampersand which is a board and will not warp or buckle. I use 70% alcohol which has a lower flashpoint than the 90%. Using harder pastels work best. The softer the pastel the gummier the results. If you do use a softer pastel be sure to use a very light touch.

8x10 Uart 500 unmounted. no buckling!

close up of the cool spider web drips
 You can see that in the final painting (at top)  I left much of the bottom left corner untouched . I let the drips become a part of the scrubby field. Now that was fun!

******Do you see the little cardinals in the tree? They are my spice. More cardinals coming!*****


1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Love the cardinal in the tree, reminds me of the one that's been hanging out in the yard. Every time the barn cats nap in our laps, the cardinal comes down to scrounge for cedar berries in the grass. No snow yet but he's very striking on the grass or up in the evergreens where he really stands out.

Love your underpainting effects. I like the alcohol wash too, it dries so fast and is so effective. You do cool things with drips. I've never succeeded in doing anything with drips, that's something I'm still thinking through. I think I'm a bit too careful to create them.