July 2017 – Chartering New Waters

After returning from IAPS I reminded myself that it’s absolutely pointless to have spent time learning new techniques if I wasn’t going to apply them. One of those techniques in particular is the use of an “alcohol wash” underpainting. This involves applying a faint layer of pastel followed by a wash/layer of alcohol over it. The concept was first introduced to me during Jeanne Rosier’s Seascapes Workshop at IAPS. I decided to test this process out again on a few small studies.

While at the beach I completed a rough outline/study for some small seascape pieces, trying to capture the basic shapes and shadows. It didn’t look like much at this point but if you spend enough time thinking and planning this stage it makes the remainder of the piece much easier to execute.

So after determining the basic composition, I took a small amount of alcohol on a brush and painted over the pastel. It creates what resembles a watercolor painting from which I’m able to build upon by adding the pastel layers. What I love most about this process is that it does the hard work for you. A great underpainting acts like a solid foundation and map. So I don’t have to spend as much time building up pastel layers from blank white paper and risk clogging the tooth of the paper too early.

I worked on each piece simultaneously often referring back to the reference photos I took while at the beach. I moved a bit slow on these as it didn’t come as naturally. Learning something new, no matter hold old you get is always difficult. It’s hard to break away from tried and tested habits/methods and venture off down a different path, all for the sake of growth… chartering news waters they say… but one thing I’m also learning along the way is to be more appreciative of the process and the time it takes to master a new skill set.

I often ask myself, “if you stop or give up now, will you look back and say… if only I would have kept going and allowed time to do its magic?”…. So as frustrating as new concepts may be, just keep trying, there’s really no other way to get there…And I feel that mindset is a must for most hurdles in life.

The final results are shown below. I hope you enjoy these minis escape studies and that you return to see the many more to come.