Recently, I've been letting myself play on vintage paper as my painting surface.
My love for vintage pages is twofold.
1, I am drawn to old things, antiques, repurposed and thrifted items, so a vintage book seemed the perfect place to journal my progress for the next 100 days. I'm currently participating in a 100 day challenge where I paint something new every day and share it online.
2. I love the way inks sink into old, yellowed paper. The tinted colour brings a base that is already golden and primed, and the way fluid acrylic and inks interact with the paper is so soft and sensual, while heavier body acrylic glides on like silk.
Here's an example:
I seriously wish I could get vintage paper as a huge surface, but unfortunately I have tried, and it melts down with too many layers and pills out.
So my next step was to try raw canvas, and see what the differences are between cotton that has no product applied to harden or mold it and canvas that has several layers of gesso already applied before purchase. I've seen other artists do this but shied away from it because I wanted to come to it organically, when the time felt right, and not because others around me were doing it. Over the last month, I decided I really wanted to give it a try because my style is shifting a little and I don't want to hold myself back from possible learning.
I'm finding that raw canvas is gorgeous for that soft, sinking look, of the paint blending into the material and creating a transparent but traceable mark. I love how the colours interact, like they are a part of the grain of the canvas, whether watered down a little or left heavy. However, when I use heavy body acrylic, naturally, it also sinks in and sticks to the fibres of the fabric, lending less to that smooth glide and more to a choppy, textured feel, which I am not mad about.
In contrast, when painting on a gessoed surface, I find it hard to achieve that pulled, melted look and easier to achieve the firm glide of where I want my marks of heavy body acrylic to be. This is the magic of art, for me, learning to try the same thing in different ways and learning what technique I like more than the other. It's the closest way I can describe science in my brain. I'm conducting experiments, logging data, and doing more experiments with the results, then I get the share and talk about my findings.
In other words, is science magic?
I'm going to keep working with raw canvas over the next few months while I compile some new paintings, with a tentative release for January. We'll see if things change on the dates.
I measured out the canvas and cut it to fit the size of a 24 by 30 wood frame. I didn't realize the fabric would shrink so much once I applied the heavier body paint, which looking back now only makes sense. So far, I haven't stretched the canvas over the wood frame, so I am not sure if I will get back a little bit of the size in stretching it out. It also crinkles a little in the areas where there is less paint, so if I want to keep some of the raw canvas colour as the background, I'll have to be mindful of this for next time and cut out some extra room.
Give the fabric lots of time to dry between layers, especially if wanting that layered and melted look. I started with a light wash of white titanium fluid acrylic mixed with water and let it dry over night. In the morning it was ready for another layer of white, without it being watered down, to create some lovely texture.
Use a pencil to mark the edges of your composition, not a pencil crayon. Then you can erase the marks when you are done. Rookie mistake.
Be mindful of where you want the paint to over lap the edge and if you want room between the edge and the composition of your painting, this is kind of lost in the process because the canvas isn't stapled to the wood frame yet.
That's it for me. I'll post more about this process later!