Thursday, February 04, 2010

How and Why to Add an Isolation Coat to an Acrylic Painting

Overlook, 20x30, acrylic on linen
copyright 2010, Jan Blencowe, Connecticut, USA
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Today I had a perefect artrist's renewal day. I went with an artist friend to Jerry's Artarama and bought all kinds of fun new supplies. If that wasn't heavenly enough, we went to Hartford had a super delicious lunch and then to the Wadsworth Atheneum to see the exhibit of the Hudson River School paintings. Check out this great article in the Wall Street Journal about the Wadsworth's Collection of Hudson River School paintings. Of course I bought the beautiful hardcover catalog that documents the collection and can't wait to begin reading the essays that accompany the gorgeous full color plates.

In honor of our pilgrimage to the Hudson River School exhibit I'm posting my recent painting, Overlook, which gives a vigorous nod to the style and techniques of the Hudson River School Painters.

Since this painting in now thoroughly cured it was time to seal it with several isolation coats. Below is a short video that explains why I do this and how to do it. Just remember this is an ACRYLIC painitng, you wouldn't use an acrylic isolation coat over an OIL painting.

Isolation coast have several purposes for an acrylic painting. During the painting process isolation coats can be used to toughen up a layer of paint so that you can vigorously apply, scumble or scrub another paint layer over it without disturbing what's already there. If you are adding collage elements to your work you may want to cover that area with an isolation coat if you intend to layer more paint over any part of the collage material.

Once the painting is done and thoroughly dry (in the case of conventional acrylics) or cured ( in the case of the new slower drying acrylics like Chroma or Golden Open) sealing the entire surface with several isolation coats ensures that the paint surface stays in tact including any areas that have indergone scraping, scratching, or rubbing and any added textural materials or mixed media elements stay put permanently. The isolatiion coat will also bring up the sheen of the colors to a more uniform gloss. It also seals and protects the painting surface getting it ready for a final varnish.

To make an isolation coat I use Golden Soft Gel with a gloss finish. The recipe ois on the front of the container, 2 parts soft gel to 1 part water, mix thoroughly. I like to apply 3 isolation coats letting each one dry thoroughly before applying the next.  The isolation coats allow the final varnish to sit on top and you get a luminous, glossy surface that adds a good deal of depth to the painting surface.


AutumnLeaves said...

Fabulous info, as always Jan. Not that I work in either medium, though oils on occasion. I'm trying to find my way with those and know little to nothing except to prep the canvas with gesso. Anyway...this painting is beautiful and looks to have much greater depth than I remember originally!

helen said...

beautiful painting. i did this today too! love your videos.