Thursday, January 26, 2012

Using Acrylics and Watercolor Together

QUESTION: Could I spray my watercolor background with an acrylic then paint on top with acrylic paints? Alicia
SUSIE'S REPLY: Thanks for writing!
Acrylics and watercolor are both water soluble and considered water based mediums. 
Once an acrylic dries it becomes a type of plastic and is no longer water soluble.
You can paint acrylics over a watercolor base or background without any problems. There is no need to spray the background first. However, you can not paint watercolor over an acrylic background without creating some issues. These issues may or may not be a problem. Usually watercolor, being vulnerable to moisture needs to be protected from exposure. A clear acrylic fixative would be recommended to protect watercolor over acrylics.
Having said that, I need to add that the more watered down the acrylic is the more acceptable it is to a watercolor glaze over it. On the other hand, if the acrylic under painting is thick and not porous it will be difficult for watercolor to stick to it.

There are several outstanding artists who do combine acrylics and watercolor very successfully.
Good luck in your adventures!

Gum Arabic and Acrylics

QUESTION:  Hi Susie, could I use Gum Arabic as a retarder for Acrylic Painting. I do like to work wet with my acrylics so that I can get better blending in my painting. I do have a retarder but i would like to try another form of keeping my paints wet. I am not into watercolours yet as I am still in the learning stages. Thank you for your advice Vera S

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Vera, I'm not a chemist but I don't think gum arabic would make a suitable retardant for acrylics. It's used as a binder in watercolors because it dissolves with water. I'm sure if it worked well with acrylics it would be promoted and sold by the acrylic manufacturers.
Keep painting and learning! Practicing and painting every chance you get helps you learn from experience.

Thanks for writing!

Buckling paper on Watercolor blocks

QUESTION:  Susie, I have a problem. Almost a year ago I bought 140 lb, cold pressed, 16"X10" 'The Langton' block by Daler & Rowney. I stored it well for 11 months. yesterday when I tried to paint on it the paper buckled up also it dries very fast and is almost like bloating paper. I never had this problem before.
I sent a mail to D&R about the problem but no reply yet. It's been 11 months since I bought it so the dealer refused to replace it. .
Tried to stretch it. I didn't sock it for 10 minutes but sprayed some water until it's fully wait then wiped it and taped it to the board. Didn't work at all. Is there any other way?  
Colombo, Sri Lanka
SUSIE'S REPLY: Thanks for writing.
You say you haven’t experienced this problem before, have you always used this same type of paper? Or is this a different paper brand?
Just because it is 140# CP doesn’t mean it will work the same or is equal to other 140# CP brands.

I’m not as familiar with the 140# Langston block as I am Arches 140# papers but perhaps I can offer you some suggestions.
Please forgive me if these points sound basic or over simplified but since I have no way of knowing how much you know I’ll approach these hints as if you were a beginner minimal experience.
  • ·    When watercolor paper is wet the fibers expand and if the paper is tacked down or sealed around the edges it will wrinkle or buckle.
  •      Many artists soak and stretch their watercolor paper as a way of dealing with this issue.
  • ·    Watercolor Blocks are designed to paint on without stretching the paper. Watercolor Blocks are sealed with a glue around the edges and are designed to paint on without stretching the paper. Because there is no allowance for expansion when the paper is wet (causing buckling) blocks work best when using dry brush techniques which require less moisture thus less expansion/buckling.
  • ·    For best results for painting on watercolor blocks (by any paper manufacturer) use techniques requiring less water.
The traditional recommendation would be: If you will be working wet in wet, remove the paper from the block, fully soak the paper by submerging it in water then stretch it by tacking and taping the edges so it dries taunt.
My personal choice: I don’t stretch my paper, I prefer to keep it loose so I can rotate it as I paint and I do work wet in wet without buckling. When the paper is loose it can expand and contract at will. If it is tacked down (without being stretched-including glued edges as in the wc block) it doesn’t have room to expand when you wet it. I might use a clip or tack to hold the paper in place if needed.

I’m not sure I helped with the buckling issue you experienced when working wet in wet. I do believe you can use the paper if you use less water and more dry brush techniques.
Every type of paper, every brand of paper, has different traits and personalities. Not every type/brand is suited for every painting style.

I hope that helps.
Keep on painting!

PS. Joan asked: Concerning the buckling problem, couldn't she iron the one she is concerned about? Since she can't fix it any other way. I would use a towel maybe dampened a bit to try and get it to lay flat.

Thanks Joan! Yes, a medium warm iron will help to flatten the buckles. I usually dampen the back of the entire painting using a damp paper towel, making sure I also get the edges damp not just the middle where the wavy area might be more obvious, allow the paper time to expand. The wc paper will be limp and a little floppy. Then protect the wc paper with a layer of paper such as a brown paper bag torn open to a single layer when you start to iron the wc paper. The heat from the iron will help the fibers shrink back into place evenly. Using gentle pressure helps the process too. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Different paper for better results

QUESTION: Hello, I am trying to do a somewhat abstract painting with watercolors. I am using 140 lb. canson watercolor paper. I am pre wetting areas and then applying the color so it will spread randomly. However, I don't even have that much water on the paper but It fuzzes up and starts falling apart. Would bumping up to 300 lb. watercolor paper help?  Colin

You might want to try another brand of paper.  Just because the weight of the paper is 140# does not mean they share the same equality.  Bumping up to 300# Canson will not guarantee a better outcome.
The sizing and cotton pulp is the same in the 140# and the 300# of Canson.
Try Arches 140# CP or Stephen Quiller 140# CP by Richeson
Both of theses papers will hold up when soaked in multiple applications.
I hope this helps!

Good paint? Bad Paint?

QUESTION:  I received two new 37ml tubes of Winsor-Newton watercolor paint -- squeezing the tube I do not get paint initially but an oily fluid -- is this paint at the bottom of the tube usable.  Cad Red and Cerulean Blue   - Ray T

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Ray!  The amber oily looking fluid is gum arabic. All brands of tube watercolors include water soluble gum arabic as a binder. Sedimentary pigments do settle and separate somewhat in the tube when they sit on a shelf or in your paint box for a while.   When you first open a tube of paint and see the gum arabic at the top put the lid back on the tube and shake or knead it a little to mix it back into the pigments. Using a toothpick or straightened paper clip to stir the paint in the tube has also worked for me to mix it back into the paint. The pigments remaining in the tube are not harmed by having less gum arabic but they may solidify and harden in the tube if they are not used for a while.
Cadmium Red and Cerulean Blue are both sedimentary pigments so I would expect to see some settling in the tubes.
I like painting with dry paint rather that freshly squeezed paint so this is no longer an issue for me. I prefer to squeeze the whole tube of paint into my palette well, stir it up to reintegrate the gum arabic and allow the paint to dry in the well before I paint with it. It works very well for my style of painting.
Thanks for your question! Happy Painting!