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***PLEASE don't pave one more beautiful pasture,
***PLEASE don't cut down one more tree,
***PLEASE don't build another building,
S T O P . . . U R B A N . . . S P R A W L *** S A V E ... O U R ... L A N D ! !

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Alcohol Wash Underpainting

Someone at Wetcanvas asked about how to do an alcohol wash underpainting so I wanted to share my answer here also...

I start out with a preliminary, pretty basic sketch on my board with a charcoal stick and then put down the first layer of color in pastels.

This is my first, preliminary layer of pastel.....I'll explain starting with the sky. I normally use a dark value of blue at the top of the sky, then in the middle sky a medium (lighter than the dark) value, and then at closest to the horrizon or in this case tops of the trees with the lightest value of blue. It almost looks like 3 stripes.

Then I block in the darkest value for all of the trees in the background. In this painting, I used a Mount Vision extremely dark navy blue.

Then in the foreground I use the same blues as the sky for the snow, but in reverse order. The lightest will be the farthest away; the medium will be in the middle; and the darkest will be in the foreground.

That covers all of the board and I've only used 4 colors.

Then I take a cup and put about an inch of rubbing alcohol in it and with a flat, synthetic square paint brush (about a 1/2" wide) I get it wet with the alcohol and starting at the top using crosshatching motions, start to liquify the darkest blue (MAKING SURE THE BRUSH IS NOT DRIPPING WET!!), I keep cleaning the brush by swishing it in the alcohol and then move down to the medium value blue and start liquifying that area, but now I'm starting to bring that medium value up into the dark value so the stripes disappear. Again, swishing off the brush to clean it, I go into the lightest area and also crosshatching and blending it into the medium value. When that is done, I have a nicely blended sky that is soft and has a nice transition from lightest at the tree line to darkest at the top, but there are no hard lines and no longer any stripes. Sometimes no other layers of pastels are necessary if the sky turns out really nice using the alcohol, so I just leave it just the way it is. I love it when that happens

Then I wet my brush again and because trees are vertical, I use vertical strokes with the alcohol until that is all liquified.

Then in the background all the way to the foreground I repeat the steps I took in the sky, but using more horrizontal strokes.

In the end all of the first layer of pastel is liquified and is no longer clogging the tooth.

I know that when other artists use this type of method, they let it drip, but I don't! That's just my style.


Colleen Brown said...

Hi Paula, just wondering what type of paper you are working on? I remember meeting you in Santa Fe many years ago! Great artworks!

Paula Ann Ford said...

Hi Colleen, It's so nice to hear from you. It's funny, I was just thinking about you the other day wonderful how you are.

I mainly use Ampersand Pastelbord, or Uart 400 or 500 grit. If using Uart, I bond it to either gatorboard, which is very strong, or acid-free foamboard, if I'm using smaller sizes. I bond it using a product called Double Tack. It's basically double sided tape in sheet form.

Thank you very much for stopping in and thank you for the compliment!


Don said...

Hi Paula, I found the link to your site when I was looking up your post on "Alcohol Underpainting" Thank you for posting information about this! After years out of Pastel painting I'm finally rededicating myself full time to my first love Pastels but I'm a little rusty!:) Your work is really great and I'm really enjoying your site. you even have on of my favorite Eva Cassidy songs! Well, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your work and knowledge I have been inspired!


Paula Ann Ford said...

Hi Don, So nice of you to stop in! Thank you so much! I hope you have a great time painting in pastels! I'm sure you won't be rusty for long.

T Kurtz, Starpointer Images said...

I have also done the alcohol under painting on suede mattboard. It works to help blend colors and you let it dry before working on it. It doesn't seem to affect the board adversely..