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  Other Supports

The reason I have included this page is to explain the tremendous amount of possibilities in which an individual can express his/ her creativity. I would like to show the comparison between what was already practiced by the old masters and what expansions have been made available in regards to creative mediums today. Your decision in planning should be based on your desired expectations and whether your work is to be considered archive quality or not.

Spotted Orchid - silk painting mounted - 50cm square - Leonard Thompson
click on image to enlarge

Cens, Enks
San Antonio, Texas, USA

For Plaster and Concrete most of the information is provided for this support on the fresco page of this site. Replacing fresco in homes and for those who are not as fond of or concerned about permanence, other materials are available for wall surfaces such as a large variety of  Latex and Oil base paints, which many artists have used to capitalize on the faux finishing and Trompe L’oeil  style painting methods. Many artists have also utilized  Graffiti as an expressional medium with some success in the commercial market but much of this “creative outlet”  has only been recognized as vandalism. All that is generally needed on these walls including concrete, plaster, and dry wall would be a clean surface and primer base coat. However, many masonry projects do require additional preparation such as acid etching by using muriatic acid to improve surface bonding properties. 

 Ceramic – Painting on ceramic or porcelain not unlike many other mediums of expression can become  a highly detailed process. In most cases with this craft,  usually acknowledged as china painting,  in order to create lasting pieces of art you will be required to kiln-fire your work between each application to “set” the color. Usually a black outline is done first which can be done with your background or field. Then color is added as you require until you achieve the desired effect. Metallic details are always staged for the final firing.

The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain

The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain 

Although the most familiar methods are glazing, you can paint china using paints such as Peblo 150 Porcelaine Paints that don’t require kiln firing and only require to be heat set in an oven at 300 degrees to make a durable bond. Keep in mind that if permanence is a serious issue the “old school” method is the longest  lasting and  most desired.

Glass & Plexiglas -are interesting supports for paint. Glass is usually reserved for soldered copper foil method stained glass and sand etching. Glass has also been used for numerous other modern techniques such as Fritographys painting where small particles of glass are fused to a glass surface when heated in a kiln. The fun part of painting on these clear non porous surfaces is that all segments of your painting are done in the reverse order as compared to painting on canvas. This is a planned out and calculated graphic art which can also be developed as a fine art medium.

Today Plexiglas is used primarily for making signs. Where it’s preparation and painting practice is similar to glass,  it is more advantageous to use Plexiglas instead of glass since it is not as prone to breakage. However, caution should be taken cleaning as some solvents can cause the Plexiglas to cloud.

Gold leave gilding for lettering and logo designs for store fronts etc has been a popular medium since the early 19th century.  This is a much simpler method than how it is applied to book binding, gesso picture frames, furniture, etc. Usually the required preparation  is a strong scrubbing with a hard to find “Bon Ami bar/cake soap” with a cotton cloth and rinsing it clean with distilled water.

If grease, oil or hard to dissolve tars are not removed by scrubbing try using a solvent such as denatured alcohol to beak it down. Once the surface is clean wipe it down with a clean rag soaked in Dupont Prep-Sol or 3M Prep Solvent-70 and allow it to dry before continuing to paint with Air-Dry PermEnamel Paints.Desired results can also be achieved with a specialty Surface Conditioner,  Glass & Tile Primer and Glass Paint Mediums (all found at Blick Art Materials)that are cured in the oven. These paints are great for ornamental painting but I am speculative about it’s archive properties.

Metals – Almost always require etching previous to priming and are great supports (aluminum & copper are best) to paint on mostly with oil base or lacquer paints.  Again depending on your desired level of permanence keep in mind that most paintable metals oxidize and that extra measures must be taken to seal these surfaces in order to be successful with a metal support. (See Painting on Copper)

Silk –  The history of silk according to the  Chinese dates back  27 centuries BC which at that time was a monopolized commodity traded mostly for clothing and writing. Today they still hold at least 50% of the total global market in silk production. Technically there are only two methods of painting on silk:

“Spotted Orchid”
silk painting mounted
50cm square       ©2008
Leonard Thompson
Leonard Thompson
Silk Artist

Dyeing methods saturate and become part of the fabric. When this method is used with a brush it is difficult to control flow of Silk Dyes due to absorption rate of silk  India has been credited with use of the wax die resist technique around the 2nd century AD used around the 2nd century AD to control absorption by masking. This does not necessarily mean that many current die and painting techniques have not carried through from China before this time to date. There’s just not much evidence to support it. There is Batik an Indonesian version of silk art and French Serti,  a similar technique that uses Gutta or Waterbased Polymer Resists  to create an outlined fence around the area to be dyed or painted. When it is dry the color is fixed in the fabric.

The difference between Gutta and water based resists is that Gutta consists of a turpentine based resin and much more difficult to remove as a mask. Gutta which is usually applied with a Pipette comes clear and in different colors but leaves it’s color in the silk so it is generally used lightly in a technique I familiarize with ink or gouage and watercolor. Most water based masks such as Jacquard No Flow and wax resists can be removed from the silk by washing them out once the color is set.

Painting with acrylic adheres well but because silk is such a fine support,  painting on it creates a texture on the fabric. Heavily painted silk is also prone to cracking when the support has flexed to some degree. Golden GAC 900 Fabric Medium – liquid acrylic polymer emulsion medium developed for clothing artists leaves a light texture when heat set with an iron, oven or hair drier. It can be blended at a ratio of 1:1 with acrylic colors to allow painting on fabrics in a variety of application methods.Caution must be taken here. H eat-setting will release low levels of formaldehyde. Be certain  adequate ventilation is available for this process.

You can also paint on silk with an air brush with  Airbrush Color Sets that are distributed as metallic, transparent and opaque water-based paint.

When you are painting with a brush, the most appreciable work is created when thinned light calculated brush stokes are made as practiced with Chinese watercolor to prevent excessive paint build up. Use of any oil based medium is not recommended since silk painting is done directly to the support with out a ground to isolate the oil from saturating the fabric causing decomposition.


Related Links

Faux Like a Pro

Martin Alan Hirsch Decorative Finish School

The Gold Leaf Company

 International Porcelain Artists and Teachers, Inc.

Silk Painters International : SPIN 

Dharma Trading Co – Silk painting Information & Supplies

Silk Painters Guild


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