'Upon the Tallgrass Prairie' 18x24 pastel ©Karen Margulis
Did you know that alcohol goes great with pastels? I'm not talking about a cocktail or glass of wine although my Sunday workshop students might disagree! I mean regular 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. If you are looking for a quick no mess underpainting technique then you will want to give this method a try. I love doing an underpainting for my pastels since it gives me a head start. I don't have the fear of starting on a big piece of empty paper. Below is my finished underpainting. I already have a good start and I haven't added any pastel! One of the questions I am often asked is how do you decide what colors to use in the underpainting. I will address this question in another post and if you live in the Atlanta area you may wish to join my 'Underpainting Boot Camp Workshop' on February 19th.
alcohol wash underpainting
- For this technique you need some hard pastels. I use a mix of NuPastels and Polychromos. If the pastel is too soft it will get gummy when you wet it and fill the tooth of the paper more readily than harder pastel.
- You need a cheap stiff bristle brush.
- You need some rubbing alcohol and a container. You only need a small amount.
- You can use turpenoid (smelly but you get cool drips) or water (drips not as interesting)
- Cover paper with a layer of hard pastels...color choice it up to you, brush in the pastel with the alcohol. Let it dry. Add pastel. Easy!
Mini Demo of an alcohol Wash Underpainting
- (from top left) Block in first layer with Nupastels. This layer doesn't have to be thick.
- Wet down the pastel with rubbing alcohol....paint it on and move the wet pastel around. Don't worry about drips.
- This is my own Terry Ludwig Wildflower Set (I put it together at the IAPS convention at the 'candy store'. Terry has all of his pastels on display and I picked out my own set for wildflowers.
- Adding the pastels. Starting with darks, then the sky and clouds.
- Blocking in the flowers. Refining the flowers and the grasses
- 'Upon the Tallgrass Prairie' finished.