Sculptural Material for Panel Paintings?
I want to do heavily relieved, semi-sculpted, "2.5D' paintings. I've done some of this with Golden molding paste on Ampersand panels. I slather the paste on to a depth of 1/8 - 3/16", carve into it with a plastic stick, and overpaint with acrylic.
Golden molding paste does not have the feel I hoped for. It is sticky, and it tends to adhere to the tool more than itself. It cannot be freely molded the way clay can. The working time is very short. When initially applied, it is too liquid to take an impression. As it sets by evaporation, there is a brief time when it can retain detail, before it becomes unworkable.
I've done about 8 "relief paintings" by this method. The material itself enforces an interesting look, but that look is all that is possible. I was originally intrigued by Jean Dubuffet, who made his own material out of turpentine, resins, and various kinds of "dirt." However, these materials are not allowed in the school environment where I work, and I don't think I would like to deal with the health hazards of volatile solvents at home either.
So I'm asking for suggestions: A material is desired with low toxicity, low volatility, with some of the positive working characteristics of modeling clay. Yet it has to be highly paintable. Perhaps another water based material?
One suggestion was plumber's pipe dope. What about the stuff called "Skratch"?