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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

When You Want to Give a Painting a Head Start

'Canyon Light'              16x12                  pastel              ©Karen Margulis
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 The very first underpainitng technique I ever tried was a simple alcohol wash. I loved it but thought I was cheating! It seemed as if my painting was half done after the underpainting was dry! I have now experimented with many underpainting media and techniques but I still enjoy the good old alcohol wash. So when I was starting this complicated and daunting painting a felt the need for a head start. I needed to do an underpainting that would simplify the complex and five me a roadmap and head start! The good old alcohol wash was the perfect answer. 

Here is the resulting underpainting. I used Nupastels and 70% rubbing alcohol.

the finished underpainting on Uart sanded paper. 

  • An ALCOHOL WASH is simply a technique used to liquify pastel creating a wet underpainting. Using a paintbrush and 70% rubbing alcohol the artist wets the pastel creating a wet wash. Pastel can also be liquified with water and Odorless mineral spirits with slightly different results. ( I have also used vodka which works great!)
  • Sanded paper or paper that can take a wet wash is needed. Note that some sanded papers do not take a wet wash. (LaCarte)
  • It is best to use a harder pastel for an alcohol wash. The softer pastels with more pigment than binder tend to get thick and gummy when wet. I have had success with softer pastels when I apply them very lightly.
  • Take your time! You are turning pastel into liquid gouache take advantage of this and slow down and use the brush to paint! Use brushstrokes to help describe what you are painting. It is not just a matter of getting everything wet....slow down and make the underpainting just as important as the pastel application.
  • Embrace the drips! One of the wonderful things about wet underpaintings is the opportunity for the unexpected! Let the pigment drip and mix and mingle!

This week on Patreon I share a step by step photo demo of this painting! Join us!

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