Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Adding interesting things into your mixed media paintings

Sands Of Time
Pure Abstraction Series
16 x 16 x 1 1/2" Mixed Media, Acrylics & Sand
on canvas
(c) Deb Chaney 2009
Original and Prints Available at the date of this post
(604) 736-5111

Feng Shui Recommendation: This painting was created to enhance your health and vitality.
Place it in the center of your home or office to amplify this area of your life.

I received an interesting Email last week from an artist who had some questions about experimenting with adding various different medias into her acrylic mixed media work. She knew that I'm a big fan of putting sand into my work (see Sands of Time above) where I used heavy gel medium and then dabbed found beach sand on top of it using a sponge and then painted over that.

The challenge when we begin to add foreign medias into our paintings is that we really don't know what's in them nor if they are archival and will encourage the degradation of the painting itself. There could be some interesting bacteria living in that sand that decide to bloom a year from now and this painting may in fact take on a totally different look and vibe! Perhaps a new selling feature to my work, who knows. Either way here is the question that sparked this blog:

Here is the original question:

You mentioned you use sand on your paintings. Have you tried using
sugar? Wondering if that could work. I actually tried it and it looks
pretty good. I've also put vinegar onto canvas by accident (thought it
was water) but it created a neat faux-finish look. Would you recommend
vinegar & sugar? Or is that a bad idea... I don't want to attract any
ants - haha!
Here were a few of my thoughts about adding sugar, salt and vinegar to her acrylics...

Vinegar and sugar are both really acidic so they will degrade with time. That's your biggest concern is that their are not archival. The question is, if you combine and layer them enough with mediums and paints can you make them permanent? Hmmmmm

PS what about salt too - like regular or the large crystal epsom salts you get in the drug store. These can create amazing effects....Worth a try...
the other thing I'm wondering is if the salt and sugar would dissolve with the water we use with the acrylics....

very interesting...

And then we decided to take it one step further and ask our friend and acrylic paint technician from GOLDEN paints, Ulysses Jackson, what his thoughts were. As you can see he had a lot to add to this conversation!

The question you sent is very interesting. Sand is a rather benign mineral that once glued down by the acrylic binder will be stable unless there is not enough “glue” to hold the individual sand particles in place. Sugar is very hygroscopic by nature this means that it likes to pull and hold onto moisture from the air or wet acrylic paint. What an artist may find is that films with sugar added in could be permanently water sensitive, possibly even mold, and yes attracting ants is a possibility. Golden makes Clear Granular Gel that has an acrylic solid in it that has some resemblance to very large sugar crystals. This product may be too regular in shape for this artist or does not allow them not sprinkle it on. Another option could be looking into recycled glass products as they are available in many sizes and grades.

Using vinegar in art is untested and would have to be considered veryexperimental. If one were to try this there are a number of issues to be aware of. First acrylic paints are produced with an alkaline pH that allows the acrylic binder particles to remain stable in water. If an acid like vinegar was poured onto wet acrylic the pH would be altered and there most likely would be acrylic shock that occurs. This may granulate the paint and would definitely weaken the physical properties causing less resistance to water, and solvents in the future. We have not tested the effect of vinegar, also known as acetic acid, on the longevity of art materials and would suggest caution when this may be of concern. While acetic acid is volatile we do not know how long it would take for a quantity to leave an acrylic paint film. This means that the curing process may be slowed dramatically causing unforeseen issues of stickiness or intercoat adhesion when layering. Also, some pigments are very sensitive to acids, for example if vinegar is placed on a dried film of Ultramarine Blue it will turn areas of contact white permanently.

Flooding dried Light Molding Paste with acrylic paint and water stains could offer interesting effects without the use of an acid. Also dripping or misting Airbrush Colors, or Airbrush Medium into stains made of water and acrylic paints offers many effects of diffusion, repulsion. If there is another specific effect this artist is trying to achieve we would be happy to try to figure out a way for them to create it.


Ulysses Jackson

Technical Services

Have some interesting questions yourself about mixed media acrylic painting or being in creative process and experience some challenges? Please send them to info@debchaney.com

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