Varnish

Here’s an art question for ya… varnish, yes or no?

Now that I’m playing with acrylic paint again, exploring pour techniques and using additives and what not, I’m wondering if it is necessary.

Like this piece, for instance. It’s not the best photo… light washed on the metallic sheen, too. Here’s a closeup of the surface.

There’s some texture going on, teeny tiny nooks and crannies for dust and dirt to settle… but then, brush strokes on a traditional acrylic painting also leaves tiny places for dust to cling. And “they” do make a pour-on varnish now, specifically sold for fluid acrylic paintings. It’s supposed to leave a smooth, high gloss surface, almost like an epoxy. Should I try it?

Tell you true, my only regret in art is varnish.

Why? Because varnish has failed the test of time. I’m old, so I have some old art, original favorites that have hung on my walls since the 1980’s and 90’s. Some were varnished, some were not, and now I wish I never did. Those that were varnished have lost a vibrancy. The colors have dulled. It’s almost as if there is a thin dirty film over the paintings that cannot be washed off.

Yes, I wash my paintings. I wash baskets, too. Large paintings go into the shower ye once a year or so for a gentle wash down (not a soak) with a soft sponge dipped in a mild dish soap (usually Ivory) diluted in lukewarm water, followed by a gentle rinse with a hand held shower head front and back, tilted so the water drains off… wetting the back tightens the canvas and the wood needs it, just like a basket. And, just like a basket, let it dry slow in the shade… away from direct sunlight.

Acrylic is a polymer, polymers are plastics… traditional acrylic paintings don’t really need varnished, in my opinion. But, fluid acrylics are not the same… we’re playing chemistry, mixing paint with flow mediums, some made of glue, adding drops of various oils (most use silicone, I’ve tried a fine gun oil, some people use hair products, some kind of hair oil) and heat is sometimes applied. How does this change the composition of the paint film? Does it need sealed with a varnish? Will it pass the test of time?

Odds are, I don’t have 20 years of life left in me. I’m not going to be around to see the results of any long term testing.

So, what’s the school of thought here? Yes or no? Has anyone been doing fluid paintings long enough to observe a difference between work that has been varnished as compared to not?

Thanks for reading!

Hopscotch Revisited

Hopscotch is one of my favorite paintings… the original hangs in my living room. I’ve painted it twice, that first one in 1998 and then I painted an identical Hopscotch inside another painting, so that one is a smaller partial painting of Hopscotch over a chest of drawers in a flat kind of still life scene. I used to hang both in the same room as it was always a conversation starter when someone noticed that this painting has that painting in it.

The inevitable follow-up question was always the same, before or after they read the quote by Jane Welsh Carlyle from 1845, which I had adhered a printed copy to look framed on top of the chest of drawers. Who is the man in the locket? The woman obviously me… awe, that is my muse… was my muse. Sigh. I don’t hang it anymore.

The quote? Should I pull it out… look it up, or dare a misquote? A paraphrase? I know the ending as it was my post-divorce (my another life) motto: “If I have to lead another life in any of the planets, I shall take precious good care not to hang myself round any man’s neck, either as a locket or a millstone.”

I tried to take precious good care, not let myself go there… oh well.

For some odd reason, I decided to revisit Hopscotch for the 5×5 donation… paint it again, in miniature, but not exactly the same as the original Hopscotch. It is geometric, overlapping circles, so draw it first, then paint it in, like a coloring book technique, simple as can be, just color in each section with paint.

Alas, artistic ideas ignore physical limitations.

My spacial relationships have been somewhat “off” since that little stroke stole my right eye last year. Quick count… broken glass and coffee cups?  If I can’t trust my eyes to set a beverage far enough onto a stand so it does not fall off with I let go of the handle, how can I land the tip of a micro-brush exactly where I want it to go? I tried… dab, line, woops! Okay… well, keep going, clean it up, try again.

I finally gave up. Here it is, after I painted white over everything.

And here it is… the colored pencil version, ready to pop into the mail.

Hopscotch Revisited, 5 x 5 inches

It looks different than the original Hopscotch, more like a quilt by repeating the same colors. I do have much better control over the pencils, maybe because it is a dry medium. Pencils requires more than a light touch to lay down color. Still, I’m not really to give up the paints.

Thanks for looking!

 

 

WIP Tuesday

I am a work in process… but, that is beside the point. Here is a drawing that I started working on at the Arts & Crafts Society’s Drawing Day last Sunday. I was coloring in the night, thinking how assumed white the world is when the pencil color called “Dark Flesh” is very much a shade of pink.

WIP drawing, shading in with the Dark Flesh pencil.

Second Tuesdays are busy days, so I’m taking a break between attending the resident council meeting here in the building and an art committee meeting up at the YWCA.  Then I’m passing on an invite to an “unhappy hour” down in Boardman as the poetry reading at Pig Iron Press starts at 7:00 PM and the Open Mic at the new M Gallery, just a half block north, starts at 8:00 PM.

Yes, this is my night out… I’m going by myself this time so I don’t have to shush a date. That’s bad, but some men are so used to bar bands, where it is okay to have conversations with your companions, that they think it is okay to talk during live performance art.

Sometimes, I just like to turn off my phone and disappear… that’s what I did the night I wandered off to SOAP Gallery to take a leaf bowl class. It was good to play with clay again, and no one really needed to know where I went. Here’s my unfinished bowl being assembled upside down.

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I think I added one more leaf… it’s very shallow so might be more of a plate than a bowl. I will find out when it comes back from the kiln. I hope they offer other clay classes as I really would like to make a pot to hold paint brushes. I’ve seen it in my head for years… have looked for something similar repeatedly, to no avail. That’s pretty much how it goes. When you see something you want in your head, odds are that you have to make it yourself. Or sync thoughts with someone who does custom work.

Thanks for reading…. time to roll.