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Sgraffito

The technique ‘sgraffito’ is explained here, using acrylic paint and modelling paste. Sgraffito is the process of scratching through a surface to reveal the colours underneath; interesting effects can be achieved if modelling paste is used as well. To illustrate this, two areas of colour are painted out as a base, Professional Acrylics Azo Yellow Medium and Naphthol Red Medium. When dry, Acrylic Modeling Paste and Professional Acrylic Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) are mixed together and layered on top of the two earlier base colours, in a thick coat with a palette knife. Then, using the palette knife again, a variety of marks are made through the wet modelling paste and paint mixture to reveal the colours underneath. An interesting texture is created with the modelling paste on the surface since it retains the peaks and troughs from the gestural movements of the palette knife. Using modelling paste adds more drama and opportunities to experiment with the technique of sgraffito.

Video Transcript
0:09    Hello. Today I'm going to show you a way of achieving a sgraffito effect, using acrylic colour and modelling paste. Sgraffito is a form of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting colour.

0:23    I've applied two acrylic colours to a canvas board. You can apply as many colours as you want, try using lighter colours as your base and then darker colours on top. When these base colours are dry, on a palette, mix a small amount of dark acrylic colour with enough Winsor & Newton professional modelling paste, to cover the surface of the canvas board.

0:46    Due to the high pigment load of the professional colour I'm using, you don't need to mix too much colour with the modelling paste to get a deep consistent colour. Now that's mixed, use that colour and modelling paste mix to lay a smooth coat of colour on top of the dry acrylic colour. The modelling paste has made the consistency even easier to spread smoothly.

1:06    Now while that's still wet, use the end and edges of a palette knife to scratch through the colour to reveal the lighter colours underneath. You'll see how, as well as revealing the different colours, some interesting textures are being created. These textures won't level, and all the crests and peaks will remain when it's dry. I'm illustrating with simple gestural marks, but you can experiment with all sorts of mark making techniques to achieve some dramatic results.

I hope you've enjoyed this video.