Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to Extend Regular Acrylics' Working Time

Golden's Open Acrylic Medium

Those of you who read my blog regularly know I'm always looking for ways to get maximum use from my art supplies. And you also know how much I love acrylic paints.

Both "regular" and fluid acrylics dry fast, sometimes too fast, particularly in arid climates with low humidity. (Just try using them for plein air work and you'll see what I mean.)

A few years ago, Golden Paints introduced a great new product line: Golden Open Acrylics. These acrylics handle just like regular acrylics but they stay wet much, much longer. Days longer, in many cases.

If I had a fairy godmother, I'd ask her to transform all my "regular" acrylics into Open Acrylics. But I don't have a fairy godmother. And if you're familiar with Golden's paints, you know they don't come cheap. But there IS a way to enjoy a longer working time without ditching your regular acrylics: just buy a bottle of Open Medium. Add a few drops of it to "regular" acrylics and -- glitter dust, please!!! -- you've got acrylic paints that stay workable significantly longer!

I haven't conducted scientific tests to determine exactly how much longer, but I can say using Open Medium has resulted in an extended working time I didn't have before. My palette is a piece of heavy 4 mil plastic so my paints are probably drying on it faster than they would on my Sta-Wet palette, but they're still considerably wetter an hour or two later than paints not amended with the medium. If I used the Sta-Wet, I bet they'd be viable forever. (I'm exaggerating, of course. But I suspect a month or two would not be unreasonable to expect.)

Open Medium has come in really handy for monoprinting with my Gelli Plate. It allows time to develop surface designs, making printing sessions more leisurely. It also makes blending colors a piece of cake, along with any number of other uses. For students just learning to paint with acrylics, it reduces the frustration many feel when their paints dry faster than they can be manipulated.

Open Medium is now an indispensable tool in my studio. If I were painting plein air I would not leave home without it.

By the way, I am in no way compensated by Golden nor do I have any business relationship with that company. I just happen to like their products!

Text and image ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." -- Isak Dinesen

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Studio Storage: A Great, Low Cost Way to Display Art

Finding a way to display artwork in your studio without breaking the bank isn't easy. Oh sure, wire display systems like those used in galleries can be had, but they're mighty pricey. Banging hooks and nails into the wall is another option, but it leaves holes that must be filled, sanded and then painted over. And over and over.

The Not-So-Great Way

In my studio, I've been using a system consisting of metal hooks and painted 1x4s. The hooks hang from long, continuous slots Hubby made in the narrow top edge of the 1x4s. The 1x4s are painted --- what else? --- white. The whole thing cost almost nothing to make: we'd had the lumber on hand for years (originally it was supposed to become a cabinet for storing gardening tools, but that never happened.) The hooks were bought on the cheap from a company selling used store fixtures and displays.

This arrangement has worked ok, but it's not without its flaws. When the humidity level rises, the wood swells a bit and it can be hard to insert the hooks into the slots. Large paintings lay fairly flush to the wall but small ones don't. They angle sharply downward. And trying to slip a picture wire onto a hook can be a little hairy when the painting is heavy and I'm teetering on a step stool.

The Pure Genius Way

So when my good friend and fellow artist Rebecca Salcedo emailed me about the amazingly clever -- and oh so affordable -- display system she created for her studio, I took one look and said, "That's pure genius!"

Rebecca's super simple DIY display system: a 2x2 and a length of wide molding. Paintings lean against the wall with no danger of falling because the lip on the molding serves as a stop.  Photo ©Rebecca Salcedo

If you can operate a drill, you can duplicate Rebecca's system. I kid you not. All you need to do is fasten a length of molding to a 2x2 cut to the same length. Then screw the 2x2 into the wall. What could be easier?? Rebecca left the shelf unpainted in the photo above to show how it's constructed.

Rebecca's shelving system lets you display works of all shapes and sizes. Paintings lean against the wall but are not fastened to it. They're held in place by the lip on the molding. Note the five paintings below the shelf. To double her display space, Rebecca simply laid a length of molding (minus the 2x2) directly on her desktop surface. Photo ©Rebecca Salcedo

Rebecca says there are actually multiple ways you can construct the shelving depending on your skill level and tool inventory. She provides step by step tutorials for all of them on her Smelly Rhino Studio blog. Take a look. You'll be amazed at just how do-able this project is! Everything you need, which isn't much, is readily available at your local Home Depot or Lowes. And you won't have to take out a second mortgage to afford it, either.

What's Not to Love?

What I like about Rebecca's design, in addition to its simplicity and affordability, is its flexibility. Paintings can be shifted around so easily. They can be displayed without hanging hardware, enabling you to offer buyers more choices at the point of sale. With this system there's no need to ever again wrestle a painting onto a wall hook. Finally, all pieces on display face outward at the same angle, lending the entire grouping a clean, organized appearance. I can't think of a better way to display art during studio open houses, gallerists' visits and private showings. As soon as I can get over to my local home center, I'll be adopting Rebecca's method.

What kind of display system do you use in your studio? Does it work for you? Would you choose it if you had to do it over again? Please share you thoughts by clicking the No comments/Comments link below. Thanks!

Text ©Lynn Edwards
Images ©Rebecca Salcedo
All rights reserved

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." -- Epicurus

Friday, February 20, 2015

Re-using Canvases

Dire predictions of ice and snow put the kibosh on my plans to go to the Artist Materials Expo with friends today. The driving distance was just too great to deal with uncertainty over when and if the sleet, freezing rain and snow would begin. Since I couldn't go to this long-anticipated event, I consoled myself by rounding up every canvas in the studio I had fallen out of love with and gessoing over them. They included a 16x20 painting I had done years ago that I was never happy with, three big canvases and two smaller canvases I had started and later abandoned when my enthusiasm had waned in mid-stream, a demo canvas from my teaching days at KSU, and two brand new "virgin" canvases I had bought on sale somewhere, stashed away and had completely forgotten about.

So out came the gesso and I went to town. I used both the Utrecht brand (nice and thick with great covering power) and Liquitex, which does a good job on heavily textured surfaces. Each canvas was treated to two coats, which I applied with a 3 inch flat nylon utility brush. Between the two brands of gesso, all pre-existing colors and collage elements disappeared, leaving lovely fresh white surfaces on which to paint again. Please note: none of these canvases had ever been varnished. Once varnish is applied, you can't do anything further to a canvas painted and varnished with acrylic products!

Some artists never re-use their canvases, but I think it's perfectly acceptable. If the Masters re-used theirs (and they did, many times, as art conservators have discovered) then the practice is good enough for me. If I were working on a commissioned piece I'd start with a brand new canvas just on general principles, but if I create a painting on a recycled canvas and later someone comes along who wants to buy it I see no reason they shouldn't do so. In those situations most buyers have been quite fascinated with the idea of there having been "something else" underneath what they see. It makes for some interesting conversations between us, and it probably generates additional conversation once it's hanging in their home. Every good painting has a story. A painting done on a recycled canvas has more than one!

©2015 Lynn Edwards

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Some Results from Day 1 of Gelli Printing

Here are just a few of the designs I created using my Gelli Plate!

©2015 Lynn Edwards

©2015 Lynn Edwards

©2015 Lynn Edwards

©2015 Lynn Edwards

©2015 Lynn Edwards

©2015 Lynn Edwards

After pulling the prints, I trimmed them to fit panel style blank notecards. All but two (the blue and white one, and the pink and green one) were made using my own stamp designs. I had a blast making the prints and could have stayed on in the studio printing for several more hours. But I had to call it quits so I'd have time to clean up the huge mess I'd made. Gelli printing is not an activity for the fussy or fastidious!

Text and images ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Make Gelli Prints, not Lemonade!

The huge winter storm that has been clobbering states to our north is now on Georgia's doorstep. My friend Kathy and I had planned to paint together in her studio tomorrow, but now it looks like that's not going to happen. When the Atlanta area gets ice and snow, the very last place you want to be is out in your car. If you don't slide off into a ditch, chances are you'll be slammed into by another driver.

So for the next few days I'll be "working" in my own studio making Gelli prints! The new 8x10 inch Gelli Plate I bought last month is one of the very neatest art tools I've ever used. Using it is pure play.

Unlike homemade gelatin plates, which quickly disintegrate and require refrigeration, the Gelli Plate is a permanent material that requires no refrigeration at all. To use it, you simply brayer on a layer of color, add patterns using stencils, soft tip mark making tools etc., and pull your prints. When you're done, just wipe it clean with a damp paper towel or baby wipe. Or clean it using soap and water. No muss, no fuss, no bother.

I used my Gelli Plate to make many of the papers for the series of mirrors I've just completed (now available through 2Rules at $90 each). Making those papers with the Gelli Plate was so much fun and they turned out great!

My supply of collage papers is running low so for the next couple of days, while ice and snow keep me home-bound, I'll be immersing myself in Gelli printing to build up my stash. It's an opportunity to replenish a much needed supply as I watch the snow fall...or the ice form, whichever. So my motto for this week is "When life hands you lemons, make Gelli prints!"

©2015 Lynn Edwards