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Oil Sketch of Mary

Oil Sketch of Mary (unfinished)
14 x 17 inches, oil on mylar drafting film

Mylar is a new material I tried out as as support for an oil sketch (I use a brand called Dura-lar). Mylar is a frosted drafting film and I’d read online that it is an excellent material for oil sketches. The surface is smooth but toothy, and grips the paint well. The film is archival (it’s essentially plastic), and creates a stable bond with oil paint.

I started with a drawing on paper, which took the first 4 of 8 sessions with the model. The block-in is below, you can see the full drawing in an earlier post here.

Block-in of Mary
14 x 17 inches, graphite pencil on paper
When I was ready to begin my oil sketch, instead of tracing the contours and transferring the drawing to a painting panel, I simply laid the mylar directly over the drawing and painted on the translucent film, with the drawing visible but protected underneath.

the painting was done at night under artificial light. I don’t enjoy painting in color under artificial light, so I planned this as a monochrome sketch. I used Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, and Zinc white to mix puddles of value. I mixed two “strings” (rows of paint puddles) on my palette each session, one string of cool grays and one string of warm grays. This way I could control the temperature of the values, even though I was not using color.

I really enjoyed working on the Mylar surface, it allowed for a lot of control of the paint and offered a surprisingly agreeable drag - not as slick as you might expect. It was perfect material for a sketch, but I would not do a finished painting on it.

Next time I would use drying agent in my medium, as unlike a chalk-gesso panel it’s completely non-absorbent so it took nearly a full week for each paint layer to dry.


There is still one more spot in my upcoming 1-day workshop:
One-Day Intensive: Blocking in the Figure
Saturday, May 21 

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Reader Comments (5)

Hi Sadie, Still here.Beautiful and poetic sketch. I use mylar for my knitting projects (some), I would have never thought of painting with <oils> ! on it. How will it react long-term with the plastic (the paint and solvent) - Still trying to work into getting another class with you. -- Aaahh, Nadia

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNadia



(wonder what's happened to the blog feeds this month - I've had nothing in April 2011 - MMMM)

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Love it. I am going to try out those colours! ;)

May 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElmarie

Hi sadie. you are a great artists and i admire with all your jobs. from two years i start painting and when i sow your pictures i feel you can help me to improve my self please send for me some oil pictures to paint it

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraya jdid

Hi Sadie,
I just saw your beautiful self-portrait at the Women by Women show at the Kwan Fong Gallery. As I was researching painting on mylar I came across this post... perfect timing. I was wondering if you know if painting on acrylic (as in plexi glass) works the same way as painting on mylar? Would I need gesso on top of the plexi or could I just paint straight on it like on the mylar sheets?
I'd appreciate any thoughts and insights you might have on this.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolin
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