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Pastels can be crushed or shaved to a fine powder and used with friskets
with much the same character as airbrush. There are definitely places
where the airbrush has no substitutes but it's suprising how effective
pastel can be in emulating the effect as well as aspects of the skill and
There are also computer programs that model airbrush quite well. Fractal
Painter, Photoshop and Paintshop Pro, come to mind.
I can't imagine, myself, teaching airbrush with only two brushes. In your
situation I think I'd teach the basic effects and use whatever tools I
could lay my hands on.
By the way, I read an article which argued that many of the prehistoric
cave paintings were created with airbrush technology. Seriously! First,
remember that compressors were added to the airbrush somewhat late. Early
brushes were breath powered! You blew through a rubber hose. The
technology is easy:
Lets see if I can draw it in ascii...
<--Spray_._|_____pipe___________| <---- blow in here
pipe -> |:|/
)))))))))))))))))))) <---- Jar lid
) |:| (
| |^| | <---- Jar
| |:| |
| |^| |
|:::::::|^|::::::::| <---- Ink/paint
|----------------- Ink drawn up the pipe by blowing across the
top of it (resulting from vacuum-like lowered
The whole trick is in getting the top of the pipe to meet the blow pipe
JUST RIGHT! (Hmmm wonder if it could be done with square brass tubing?)
Our ancestors apparently did all this with two small hollowed bones and
a sea shell to hold the paint. I guess the mesh between the pipes needn't
be THAT accurate. The spray is more spattery than more familiar
devices... look at old magazine adds from the 20's. I hear that the
newest turbine brushes are as sharp as an inkjet... one teeny drop at a time
if you so want.
So, try making your own airbrush! Thayer and Chandler it ain't, but it's