Citrasolv Transfer Technique

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Eloise and Lauryn have mentioned citrasolv to me several times. Given that I was going to teach my Painterly Prints course how to do transfers with wintergreen oil, I figured it would be nice to have a second transfer technique under my belt. Citrasolv wasn’t easy to find, so I ended up buying it on Amazon. You only need a very small amount to do a single transfer, so I imagine this bottle is going to last a while.

Wintergreen oil transfers have to be a xerox or a newspaper to transfer, so the advantage of Citrasolv is that you can do transfers from magazines. This opens up a whole new world because you can get really vibrant colors.

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The technique itself is pretty straightforward, although I did figure out a couple of minor tricks that do make a difference in the result. You can somewhat control the results, but ultimately a lot of the image is completely out of your hands.  I like that though, every image is always a surprise and it’s nice to completely give into the medium. You know that you won’t be able to control the results, so you totally give up and let the medium behave the way it wants to.

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I absolutely fell head over heals for the suggestive, atmospheric, grainy quality of the citrasolv transfers. The technique is so simple that I actually felt “guilty” for doing so little work for an image that felt so complete in the final results.

And of course, every time I learn a new technique my mind starts racing about how this technique could become a video tutorial on Artprof.org. Lately I seem to have developed an immediate reaction to everything new: I recently learned how to do meandering and lotus folds for my RISD Pre-College class this summer and I knew for future reference how useful it would be to have as a video tutorial.

For the past few days I’ve been on a citrasolv transfer marathon, it’s quite addictive to just sit at my dining room table, flip through old magazines, and then pump out 10 transfers at a time right outside my front door.  I don’t take it too seriously because I think about my experience with the citrasolv as one ongoing experiment.

On top of that, the transfers blend beautifully with other drawing media.  I started adding charcoal on top of the transfers and the charcoal merged seamlessly with the transfer. You really cannot tell where one material ends and where another begins, an unusual quality for a mixed media piece. (I feel like the default mixed media piece separates media too much so that the ultimate result ends up looking really fragmented.)

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The next step is to figure out how to incorporate this technique into my studio practice.  Seems like a natural fit considering the style of some of my past drawings.  I may try printing out images of my reference photos and seeing how they react in the citrasolv transfer.

I once had a friend who once said to me:  “You don’t do anything half way, do you?”  She was right, once I get started learning a technique I won’t let it go until I’ve really spent time with it.  I love immersing myself into a new technique, going through tons of trial error and trying to figure out the nuances of the technique so that I can get the most out of the technique.

Stay tuned, if all goes according to plan, we’ll shoot a citrasolv transfer tutorial at the end of this month!  Until then, you can see some of these transfers in my shop.

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