Refresh, Rethink, Rediscover!

January 1, 2012

Like a blank canvas or sheet of paper, a new year holds the promise of something new and exciting. Refresh your passion for art by trying a new medium. Rethink your approach by experimenting with new techniques. Many traditional art materials have been around for hundreds of years, and evolving technology offers new ways to use them. Rethink some of the materials you use by applying them in new ways. Here are three techniques that can refresh your practice.

Pastel Ground on Cradled Panels
Pastels don’t have to be limited to specialty papers. Golden Acrylic Pastel Ground is designed to create a lightly textured surface suitable for pastels, and it can be used on relatively smooth surfaces. Try it on a cradled wood panel.
Before applying the ground, lightly sand the panel. The pastel ground can be tinted by mixing in some pigment or a few drops of fluid paint before applying, which can look interesting over the wood texture. The ground dries transparent, so if a white surface is desired, first apply a white ground, such as gesso.
Draw with soft pastels on the panel – the pastel ground will also allow other dry media including charcoal and graphite pencil. Finish with a spray fixative to help protect your drawing. Once fixed, the drawing is ready to hang – with or without a frame.

Oil Painting on Opus Aluminum Mounting Panels
Have you discovered Opus Aluminum Mounting Panels yet? Becoming known as a photographic mounting surface popular for its stability and light weight, they can be used in other interesting ways. Artists have been experimenting on the panels with everything from spray paint to oil based paints, with great results. Before painting on a panel, remember that this is experimental territory and testing is important.
You will need to prepare the surface for maximum adhesion, as the panels come with a smooth surface. Lightly sand the surface with fine sandpaper to create tooth. An electric orbital sander works well, or wet sand by hand with 400 grit paper. To degrease the surface, dampen a rag with solvent (rubber gloves recommended) and wipe it down, then let it dry. You may also want to apply a ground/medium such as Opus Gesso, Golden GAC 200, but this is optional depending on the results you want.
The surface is now ready to accept oil paints, yet is still very smooth. Work in thin layers for the best results, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes as the oils will clean up easily.
While the aluminum substrate is considered archival, be careful to protect the finished painting from surface scratches, just as you would protect other painted metals. The panel can be inserted into a frame, or mounting hardware can be added to float it away from the wall without a frame.

Fluid Acrylics on Raw Canvas
A primer is usually recommended for works on canvas. One reason for this is to prevent paint from soaking into the fabric. However, choosing to apply liquid paint directly to raw canvas can create an interesting effect that allows for limited control as the fibers absorb the fluid.
Start with a Buzz Stretched Raw Canvas and a paint with a good pigment load and low viscosity, such as Golden Fluid Acrylics or Liquitex Acrylic Ink. Mist the raw canvas with water and allow to soak in. Mix your colours and thin with water to a consistency of a thin cream, place in a squeeze bottle with a small tip, and apply the paint to the dampened canvas (see photos). Experiment with different application techniques – try dripping the paint directly on the canvas, or use a watercolour brush with a heavy load of fluid. Refer to the staining techniques developed by Helen Frankenthaler and Louis Morris for further inspiration. Once your desired results are achieved, you can leave it raw, give it cohesive look with a matte medium, or apply clear gesso to use the work as an underpainting