Getting just the right amount of visual texture in watermedia abstracts is sometimes difficult, and probably time consuming. I, in my always quest for something new to use in my painting decided to try some embroidery stabilizer that my wife had. Now, I buy it it larger rolls (she doesn’t use it much anymore) since I really like the textures I get when using it, and it also is great for using over a previous painting that never made it to the finished pile.
Here’s the process in pictures–as well as text.
So here are the steps:
With perfectly dry hands, cut a piece of the stabilizer to fit the painting. If your fingers are the slightest bit damp they will stick to the film and tear it when you pull your finger away.
Apply a moderately small amount of gesso to the painting and spread around with a generous amount of water. The amount you have on your paper will determine how much of the painting shows through. I’ve found that I quite often add too much gesso, and have to blot some of it off before applying the film.
Apply the film, being careful not to curl or crease it before putting it down–takes some practice, but is usually easy to do. If I’m doing it on a large piece, I usually have someone help me, to hold up the other side.
Once it’s down in the gushy wet gesso, I usually add some more water to the top as I’m brushing out the wrinkles and air pockets.
Dry it. Doing it outside on a bright sunny day speeds up this process. Otherwise just leave overnight.
Things to remember after the stabilizer has dried:
1. When you add any water based paint on top the stabilizer will start to melt again, and it sort of makes a sticky gooey mess if you stay too long with too many brush strokes. It’s in and out quickly, and let it dry again before doing anything else. I like to add stamp and template sprayed designs on top after an initial wash of watercolor.
2. It’s almost impossible to lift any color once it’s in there. When it is dry you can add something on top easily. This one got pretty dark, so I may have to add something on top to modify it.
I will leave the instructions end here, for completion at a next time. The last picture above awaits more development. Try using the embroidery stabilizer to save a painting that you don’t like or hasn’t made it. You’ll be surprised at what you can do with it. If you do, let me know in the comments. I think you can upload an image there, too. (I’m not sure) Anyway if not, you could e-mail it to me and I’ll add it to a further post.
I did a swipe pour on a 20×16″ canvas. I didn’t keep it very level and a lot of the cells just ran off the side. Didn’t like the look of the canvas texture either. I thought it might make a good background for a painting. Started adding things, first some straight lines, and then followed some of the lines in the original background with the same pen. Made a variety of lines, but it still didn’t seem to say anything. Went back to look at some of the freezer paper that had all the drippings/skins from previous pours, and found just the right colors. Since they were a couple weeks old, they peeled off the paper easily and I applied them directly to the background. They stick well when pressed down. Don’t leave them too long as they become permanently adherent. So, now I’m not going to throw any papers away that have drips on them.
Here’s the result so far. I’m going to add some more details to it with skins before it’s finished. I think it’ll be called High Wire Act.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful and gave you some ideas. If you have any comments or suggestions please say in the comments.
A couple of people have asked me what does the silicone do, is it necessary?
The short answer is yes, for sure it’s needed, although sometimes you can get fair cells without it, by using alcohol instead of silicone.
How does it work? I’m not sure, but I think it’s action is in rising to the surface through the layers of paint, causing them to layer on the outside of the silicone oil as it’s rising through the paint layers. It’s all based on the Specific gravity of the paints which goes where.
Here are two tiles, made from the same paint mixture–the first one didn’t have any silicone or alcohol added. The second had about 7-10 drops of silicone in each color. I tried to add about the same amount of each paint.
I hope this information has been useful to you. If you have anything to add or coment on please do so in the comments.
At our regular October meeting of the Southwest Michigan Watercolor Society in Battle Creek this past Monday, the 1st of October, I talked and gave a demo of acrylic pouring with media to dilute the acrylic paint and create cells using silicone. I used my usual Blick Acrylic fluid paints and PaintEasy. Also tried some old Lucas Acrylic paint that I had. Some of it seemed to coagulate when I added RainX to it. Did a couple of dirty pours and swipe pour. on a new material that Joanna Learner had brought–seems like a thick Yupo. Unfortunately it was not flat, so though the pour had great cells, a lot of them ran off afterwards.
Yesterday was another workshop on Acrylic pouring techniques. We started in the morning with 8″ tiles. I did a quick demo using a previously used wood panel. Then I prepared full cups of five paints–white, black, red, yellow and blue. Diluted them with water and PaintEasy, added some silicone, but ran out, so I used some RainX I had.
I did the pour on a sheet of Yupo (26×20″ ) supported on a 3/4″ insulation board. Amazingly this stayed flat during the drying process. I put it out in the sun in the afternoon, but didn’t have it perfectly level, so had a little running before it stabilized. It is still beautiful, especially if you like bright saturated color. Later I tried a pour using some of the same colors but added some metallic bronze as the predominant color, on a 1/2″ Foamcore board. Remind me not to use them again. Within a couple hours it wa shaped like a bowl and the metallic paint seemed to want to turn to mud. Boo hiss!!!!
Just got back from a great experience painting with Helga Flower. (http://www.helgaflower.com/HFBiopage.html and https://www.facebook.com/helga.flower.9)
We played with pouring techniques. She had a piece of thick foamcore board 30×20″ and I decided to try a swipe pour. Mixed up a about three hundred ml of red, yellow, black and white paint with PaintEasy, water and silicone. Everything worked well, and I stabbed into the painting with the edge of a piece of Yupo I was using for the swipe. Only problem that happened was the bending of the Foamcore from the wet media. All the beautiful cells in the lower part didn’t stick around. But, it’s still nice. I’m thinking Yupo may be better for doing large pours because it doesn’t curl when wet.
This is a piece about 9×12 of Yupo that we did a preliminary pour with. It did not curl at all, and didn’t loose any cells over the edge.
This picture was taken just after completing the pour. I had to take it a quite an angle to prevent glaring from the overhead light.
The main star of the show was this piece–30×20″
Again, tremendous glare from the above light, so it’s a little distorted and I got a dark spot (shadow) on the lower right. Helga’s picture later is much better. (She has it posted on her Facebook page.) Since this was on 1/2″ Foamcore board we didn’t think it would bow out, but it sure did, and it lost a lot of the cells on the bottom and in the red area.
We used a formula of 2 parts paint and water mix (the paint I was using was old and quite thick, so I diluted with water to normal fluid acrylic thickness), and then mixed this two parts to one part of PaintEasy. [Or approx 30% PaintEasy and 66% fluid acrylic paint.] PaintEasy is another product that is much thinner than Floetrol, so less water is needed for the final mixture.
Some other pictures from our Soo adventure are here (click on the picture below to see all the others.)
Finished a smaller piece yesterday. Again, this one has had not quite nine lives. But, each layer I’ve added adds to the whole. This one has had water soluble embroidery stabilizer applied over a couple of failed layers. I really will take some pictures of that process and explain it in a future post. Just don’t have the proper documentation right now.
Here’s the piece–I’m calling it “Pollination.” Some of the previous layers show through–only if you know what those previous layers were.
This afternoon I mixed a good amount of paint for pours. I used Dick Blick student grade fluid acrylics. They are quite old and were a little thicker than when purchased a couple years ago, so I mixed a little water in also. I mixed all 5 paints the same way.
1. 60 cc. of paint
2. 30 cc. of PaintEasy
3. 4-5 cc of water as needed to thin it down to what I estimated the original viscosity of the paint was. I used, Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Magenta, Chrome Yellow (Probably a Cad Yellow-looks like it) and Mars Black.
4. Added 10-14 drops of Silicone. The silicone I use is from a spray that I spray in a larger bottle and then add to a dropper bottle. This technique keeps from getting all the chemicals in the spray indoors, as I can spray it in the bottle outside.
Here are some pictures of the pieces I did. First though my setup.
You can see from the last two that white is NOT necessary in every pour. You can get cells without the white, and I think they’re even better than with white.
Please add your comment or questions about my techniques.
Many aren’t bothered by the relatively large amount of acrylic paint and thinner/polymer emulsion mixture that is essentially wasted as it runs off a painting. To me, it’s not wasted. Initially I just put some newsprint under my tiles or canvases and threw it away after it was dry. Then I decided to try putting Freezer paper under the canvas and thus able to make use of the pour excess, since other skins I’ve made for collaging were made on freezer paper.
It works pretty well, but there are two things that are quite different from using straight acrylic pain for the skin. 1.) The skins are quite thin when dry and are thus quite fragile. 2.) They take a long time to dry. These two skins I’ve had out in the sun most of the day for almost a week, and they finally have matured/cured enough to remove from the freezer paper. Also I noticed that those skins from FW Acrylic Ink are very brittle and don’t survive removal as well as those from Fluid Acrylics.
So, when trying to salvage some skins for your pours, don’t spread them out. The quite thick puddles will flatten to normal thickness when dry. And, don’t try to remove them until they are finally dry and cured.
Here’s a couple of skins I just today was able to remove from the paper. The first is from fluid acrylics and PaintEasy. It’s quite thin, but will make a good piece in the right spot.
The second is from a pour using FW Acrylic Ink and Floetrol. It is a little thicker, but somewhat brittle and needs to be handled with care. It too will make a good piece in the right spot. It is a little smaller (about 5×3″) than the first and quite a bit more shinny than the first.
Have you tried saving these for late use in paintings? Let me know.
After seeing how the acrylic ink pours that I did a couple days ago dried and looked when dry, I decided to try some more. This time I was a little more careful of how much Floetrol I added. I used about 30-35% Floetrol, since the FW Inks are so heavily pigmented. I added about 10 drops of silicone. (Since I had so much silicone spray, I collected the spray in a bottle with a dropper, outdoors, for more accurate application, and less air pollution indoors when using it. ) Even with that much diluent the colors are dark and bright appearing.
The first pour was a swipe pour on a piece of gessoed mat board, about 11×14″ (27×35 cm) I had stapled to a paint board. I think pouring on a paper base, instead of a non-absorbent surface like a tile, hastens the drying process immensely. The same applies to using canvases, but when it’s dry there’s no canvas pattern showing.
I still had quite a bit of paint left, so did a dirty pour on an 8″ tile. The excess paint that ran off from that pour is very interesting, and I’ll leave it on the Freezer Paper to dry and peel off in a couple days.
Still had some paint left–gee, does it reproduce and multiply in the cup? So did a 4″ tile. Didn’t have but a few drops of the red left, so it doesn’t show.
Will be interesting what these look like in a couple days when they’re dry. I’ll post some more pictures then.