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[ Home: Acrylics: Paint-Skin Collage and Mosaic ]
"Paint-Skin Collage and Mosaic"
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Author: Al_Razza, Contributing Editor

Do you remember your first paint-skin? You were probably helping your dad clean paint off a window. You know, that spot where the paintbrush hit the glass and the paint dried there? You took a razor and pealed it off. Or perhaps your first experience was after opening an old can of paint. The surface of the paint had cured, leaving a skin across the top of the wet paint below. You thought it was interesting but unusable. Or was it? Well now I am here to tell you of what you may have missed out on. It has come to my attention that there are many artists creating and using paint-skins in their work.
I have been using paint-skins in my artwork for nearly 20 years and believe I've discovered some unique ways to use them. My quest has been to separate what I do from what is conventionally accepted as painting. I prefer to call my works, acrylic paintings or mixed media paintings, but inevitably questions arise. How is it done and what are these surfaces made of? That left me with the need for adjectives to describe them. Paint-skin collage seemed natural enough, if not completely accurate. Relief painting seemed good to, but they weren’t molded with heavy gel or impasto; instead, corrugated, with rolled over layers of paint-skin which gave them a rippling effect. After looking to some definitions for answers, I came up with these simple, but obvious choices as they might apply to what I do.
  • Collage: a decorative accumulation of diverse materials, usually paper, cloth, or wood, which are glued on top of one another to form a picture or sequence of pictures.

  • Paint-skin: Paint, which has dried to form a thin layer or sheet, and not bound or fixed to any surface.

  • Paint-Skin Collage: thin layers of dried paint, which have been decoratively layered atop one another to form a picture or design.

  • Mosaic: a surface decoration made by inlaying various colored pieces of material to form a pattern or picture, usually tiles made of stone, ceramic, or glass.

  • Paint-Skin Mosaic: an accumulation of thin pieces of dried paint-skin, placed side by side to form a pattern or picture.

The Process

The medium I prefer for making a paint-skin is acrylic paint and clear liquid polymer. Acrylic paint is preferred over oil, watercolor, and tempera for its flexibility, drying time, and cost. I have no preference for one brand over another and I've tried most that are available, but the brands I use most often are Utrecht & Nova Color.

Gallons of translucent color are mixed using about 75% to 90% liquid acrylic gloss or matt medium. This is a personal preference not a necessity. The paint’s flow rate should be quite liberal, as it would if you were to use standard house paint, or near that rate.

I use two types of applicator easels. This is an easel where the paint is applied to form a sheet of paint-skin. One easel uses a sheet of ¼” glass, about 48” x 60"", and rotates 360 degrees, like a paddle wheel. This allows me to use gravity to control the flow of color, as well as use both sides of the easel. The second easel appears more conventional. It has a removable 48" x 60" polypropylene panel, which rotates 360 degrees like a windmill.

(An image of the easel can be found on Page 3)
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