Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Made in America

Back in July I had mentioned in my post Entered into Magnum Opus XXIII Show that I had been accepted into the Sacramento Fine Arts Show for August with my entry Heritage (which you can see at the moment over at Blue Moon Gallery). At the time I was excited that I had received an email letting me know that I was accepted. What I hadn't mentioned in that post was that when I went to drop off my painting, each participating artist who was standing in line waiting their turn was asked if they wouldn't mind accepting a piece of gessoed hardboard to paint and bring it back in November for a benefits show. Each painting that would be sold would have the proceeds go to the art center. I figured why not and took one home to try out.

Mind you that it's a large span between the latter part of July and the November 20th drop off date for the piece which would make you think that there is enough time to go ahead and work on something that is only 5x7 inches (12.7x17.8 cm) in size but honestly I didn't get a chance to work on it until the day before the due date. Looking at this American made product in my hands, I couldn't help but wonder what I should do but I put my fears aside and told myself that it would be an experimental piece since I had never used Gessoed Hardboard before. The tag with the board states “A tempered, high-density panel coated with high quality artist gesso. Perfect for all forms of painting.” As a watercolorist, I wasn't sure how that would work with my medium of choice since I remembered how watercolors had a tendency of beading up on gessoed canvas and not stick.

"Abstract Dragon" by Dawn Star Wood
Doing a light pencil sketch on the material was relatively easy but the big test was trying to paint on it. At first, I thought that it was going alright but quickly realized that with my particular style of painting that I wasn't going to be able to layer as effectively as I would on watercolor paper. I also discovered that I couldn't blend very easily either. Then. It happened. There were a couple of spots on the board where the paints beaded up and refused to stick. It was even more frustrating when I had accidentally swiped my thumb over one of these spots and actually wiped off a section of paint. For a product that advertises that it's “perfect for all forms of painting”, I was finding it very unfriendly to a heavily water based medium. Since I couldn't do a wash on the rest of the board because of the beading affect, I just decided at that point that this was going to be a mixed media piece. Acrylics seem to work perfectly well on this product, leaving a relatively smooth layer on the surface. Gel pens also seem to work well (especially on top of the acrylic paint) but unlike being used on gessoed canvas or paper, the pens take a little longer to dry since they only have the paint that they're sitting on to cling to. If I had the time, I might have gone ahead and put some form of clear coat over the entire thing and let it dry overnight but since this was a last minute project, I give the suggestion to others. As an experimental material to use, the gessoed hardboard is fine but I really wouldn't pick it up for myself because there just seems to be too many flaws with it when it comes to using watercolors on it. 

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