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Mediums and Techniques | ECHOARTE

Mediums and Techniques

Acrylic Painting

 

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint containing pigment suspension in acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are water soluble, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water or modified with acrylic gels, media, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.

Acrylic artist paints may be thinned with water and used as washes in the manner of watercolor paints, but the washes are not re-hydratable once dry. For this reason, acrylics do not lend themselves to color lifting techniques as do gum arabic based watercolor paints.

When dry, acrylic paint is generally non-removable from a solid surface. Water or mild solvents do not re-solubilize it, although isopropyl alcohol can lift some fresh paint films off.

Only a proper, artist-grade acrylic gesso should be used to prime canvas in preparation for painting with acrylic.

 

Acrylic painters can modify the appearance, hardness, flexibility, texture, and other characteristics of the paint surface by using acrylic media or simply by adding water. Watercolor and oil painters also use various media, but the range of acrylic media is much greater. Acrylics have the ability to bond to many different surfaces, and media can be used to adjust their binding characteristics. Acrylics can be used on paper, canvas and a range of other materials. Acrylics can be applied in thin layers or washes to create effects that resemble watercolors and other water-based media. They can also be used to build thick layers of paint—gel and molding paste media are sometimes used to create paintings with relief features that are literally sculptural.

 

Oil Painting

Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil. Commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular consistency depending on the medium. The oil may be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense to create a varnish; often prized for its body and gloss.

Although oil paint was first used for the Buddhist paintings by Indian and Chinese painters in western Afghanistan sometime between the fifth and tenth centuries, it did not gain popularity until the 15th century. Its practice may have migrated westward during the Middle Ages. Oil paint eventually became the principal medium used for creating artworks as its advantages became widely known.

In recent years, water miscible oil paint has come to prominence, to some extent replacing the usage of traditional oils. Water soluble paints contain an emulsifier which allows them to be thinned with water (rather than with paint thinner), and allows very fast drying times (1–3 days) when compared with traditional oils (1–3 weeks).

Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint. A basic rule of oil paint application is “fat over lean”. This means that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. If each additional layer contains less oil, the final painting will crack and peel. Fat over lean does not ensure permanence, it is the quality and type of oil that leads to a strong and stable paint film. There are many other media that can be used in oil painting, including cold wax, resins, and varnishes. These additional media can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or ‘body’ of the paint, and the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke. These variables are closely related to the expressive capacity of oil paint.

Traditionally, paint was transferred to the painting surface using brushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists’ materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch within a span of two weeks (some colors dry within days). It is generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year. Art conservators do not consider an oil painting completely dry until it is 60 to 80 years old.

Supports for oil painting

Traditional artists’ canvas is made from linen, but less expensive cotton fabric has gained popularity. The artist first prepares a wooden frame called a “stretcher” or “strainer”. The difference between the first and second is that stretchers are slightly adjustable, while strainers are rigid and lack adjustable corner notches. The canvas is then pulled across the wooden frame and tacked or stapled tightly to the back edge.

 

Although surfaces like linoleum, wooden panel, paper, slate, pressed wood, Masonite, and cardboard have been used, the most popular surface since the 16th century has been canvas, although many artists used panel through the 17th century and beyond. Panel is more expensive, heavier, harder to transport, and prone to warp or split in poor conditions. For fine detail, however, the absolute solidity of a wooden panel gives an advantage.

Process

Oil paint is made by mixing pigment containing the color with oil. Different colors are made up, or today bought pre-mixed, before painting begins, but further shades of color are usually obtained by mixing small quantities together as the painting process is underway, traditionally on an artist’s palette, a thin wood board held in the hand. Traditional pigments were based on minerals or plants, and many have proved unstable over a very long period, so that many old paintings look very different from their original appearance. Modern pigments often used synthetic chemicals. The pigment is mixed with oil, usually linseed oil but other oils may be used as well. The various oils dry differently, creating assorted effects.

The artist most often uses a brush to apply the paint, often over a sketched outline of their subject in another medium. Brushes are made from a variety of fibers to create different effects. For example, brushes made with hog’s bristle might be used for bolder strokes and impasto textures. Fitch hair and mongoose hair brushes are fine and smooth, and thus answer well for portraits and detail work. The finest quality brushes are called kolinsky sable; these brush fibers are taken from the tail of the Siberian mink. This hair keeps a superfine point, has smooth handling, and good memory (it returns to its original point when lifted off the canvas); this is known to artists as a brush’s “snap.”

 

When the image is finished and has dried for up to a year, an artist often seals the work with a layer of varnish that is typically made from dammar gum crystals dissolved in turpentine. Such varnishes can be removed without disturbing the oil painting itself, to enable cleaning and conservation. Some contemporary artists decide not to varnish their work, preferring that the surfaces remain varnish-free.

“Differences between acrylic and oil paint”

The main practical difference between most acrylics and oil paints is the inherent drying time. Oils allow for more time to blend colors and apply even glazes over underpaintings. This slow drying aspect of oil can be seen as an advantage for certain techniques, but in other regards it impedes the artist trying to work quickly.

Oil paint has a higher pigment load than acrylic paint. As linseed oil has a smaller molecule than acrylic, oil paint is able to absorb substantially more pigment. Oil provides a different (less clear) refractive index than acrylic dispersions, imparting a unique “look and feel” to the resultant paint film. Not all pigments in oil are available in acrylic. Acrylic paints, unlike oil, may also be fluorescent.


Due to acrylic’s more flexible nature and more consistent drying time between colors, the painter does not have to follow the “fat over lean” rule of oil painting, where more medium must be applied to each layer to avoid cracking. It usually takes between fifteen to twenty minutes for one to two layers of acrylic paint to dry. Although canvas needs to be properly sized and primed before painting with oil (otherwise it will eventually rot the canvas), acrylic can be safely applied to raw canvas.

Meanwhile, acrylic paint is very elastic, which prevents cracking from occurring. Acrylic paint’s binder is acrylic polymer emulsion; as this binder dries the paint remains flexible.

Another difference between oil and acrylic paints is the versatility offered by acrylic paints:

acrylic is very useful in mixed media, allowing use of pastel (oil & chalk), charcoal, pen, etc. on top of the dried acrylic painted surface. Mixing other bodies into the acrylic is possible—sand, rice, even pasta may be incorporated in the artwork.

 

Collagraphy

Collagraphy is a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substance such as paperboard or wood. The plate can be intaglio-inked, inked with a roller or paintbrush, or some combination thereof. Ink or pigment is applied to the resulting collage, and the board is used to print onto paper or another material using either a printing press or various hand tools. The resulting print is termed a collagraph. Substances such as carborundum, acrylic texture mediums, sandpapers, bubble wrap, string, cut card, leaves and grass can all be used in creating the collagraph plate. In some instances, leaves can be used as a source of pigment by rubbing them onto the surface of the plate.

Different tonal effects and vibrant colours can be achieved with the technique due to the depth of relief and differential inking that results from the collagraph plate’s highly textured surface. Collagraphy is a very open printmaking method. A printing press may or may not be used.

 

Giclee on Canvas

 

Giclée is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since come to mean any inkjet print. It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to denote high quality printing but since it is an unregulated word it has no associated warranty of quality.

Artists generally use inkjet printing to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs, or computer-generated art. Professionally produced inkjet prints are much more expensive on a per-print basis than the four-color offset lithography process traditionally used for such reproductions. (A large-format inkjet print can cost more than $50, not including scanning and color correction, compared to $5 for a four-color offset litho print of the same image in a run of 1,000.) Four-color offset lithographic presses have the disadvantage of the full job having to be set up and produced all at once in a mass edition. With inkjet printing the artist does not have to pay for the expensive printing plate setup or the marketing and storage needed for large four-color offset print runs. This allows the artist an economical option, since art can be printed and sold individually in accordance with demand. Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists to take total control of the production of their images, including the final color correction and the substrates being used, and it is even feasible for individual artists to own and operate their own printers.

 

 

GRAPHICS

 

Graphics are visual images or designs on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, screen, paper, or stone to inform, illustrate, or entertain. Graphics often combine text, illustration, and color. Graphics can be functional or artistic. In art, “graphics” is often used to distinguish work in a monotone and made up of lines, as opposed to painting.

 

 

Mixed media on canvas

 

Mixed media, refers to an artwork in the making of which more than onemedium as been employed. Mixed media tends to refer to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media. For example, a work on canvas that combines paint, ink, and collage could properly be called a “mixed media” work.

When creating a painted or photographed work using mixed media it is important to choose the layers carefully and allow enough drying time between the layers to ensure the final work will have structural integrity. If many different media are used it is equally important to choose a sturdy foundation upon which the different layers are imposed.

A phrase sometimes used in relationship to mixed media is, “Fat over lean.” In other words: “don’t start with oil paints. Plan to make them the final layer.”

Many effects can be achieved by using mixed media. Found objects can be used in conjunction with traditional artist media to attain a wide range of self-expression.

 

Watercolor Techniques

Watercolor painting has the reputation of being quite demanding. Unlike oil or acrylic painting, where the paints essentially stay where they are put and dry more or less in the form they are applied, water is an active and complex partner in the watercolor painting process, changing both the absorbency and shape of the paper when it is wet and the outlines and appearance of the paint as it dries. The difficulty in watercolor painting is almost entirely in learning how to anticipate and leverage the behavior of water, rather than attempting to control or dominate it.

Many difficulties occur because watercolor paints do not have high hiding power, so previous efforts cannot simply be painted over; and the paper support is both absorbent and delicate, so the paints cannot simply be scraped off, like oil paint from a canvas, but must be laboriously (and often only partially) lifted by rewetting and blotting. This often induces in student painters a pronounced and inhibiting anxiety about making an irreversible mistake.

Watercolor paint is traditionally and still commonly applied with brushes, but modern painters have experimented with many other implements, particularly sprayers, scrapers, sponges or sticks, and have combined watercolors with pencil, charcoal, crayon, chalk, ink, engraving, monotype, lithography and collage, or with acrylic paint.

Many watercolor painters, perhaps uniquely among all modern visual artists, still adhere to prejudices dating from the 19th century rivalry between “transparent” and bodycolor painters. Among these are injunctions never to use white paint, never to use black paint, only to use transparent color, or only to work with “primary” color mixtures. In fact, many superb paintings flout some or all of these guidelines, and they have little relevance to modern painting practice.

 

Wood & Metal Engraving

 

The engraving is an artistic discipline in which the artist uses different techniques of printing, which have in common draw an image on a hard surface, called matrix, leaving a trail that after staying ink and shall be transferred by pressure to another surface such as paper or fabric, which allows for several reproductions of the print.

Depending on the technique used, the matrix may be metal (traditionally copper or zinc) wood, linoleum or stone, on the surface of which is drawn with pointed, sharp instruments or chemical processes. Currently plates of different synthetic materials that can be recorded with punches traditional way or through procedures are also used photographic, digital or laser.

 

Woodcut

It is the oldest engraving technique, which is used as a matrix a wooden surface, usually hardwoods such as boxwood, the pear or cherry. Drawing on the plate can be done in two ways; making strokes in the direction of the grain, the direction of the “fibers” that form the tree stem, or transversely, making transverse cuts across the direction of the fibers that make up the tree stem. On the wood matrix image carving it with tools with which the surface of the matrix, resulting holes corresponding to the white color or absence of color reduction is built. Often used knives and gouges for recorded fiber, whereas for the end grain etching is used to chisel, which allows working on harder surfaces and get thinner and precise grooves. The finished carving image matrix is inked with a roller, which deposits the ink on the entire surface of the matrix, except hollow carved with gouges (white). The image is passed to the paper using a vertical press or a screw press.