Saturday, July 16, 2016


Here’s a painting idea for you to up-cycle a previously-used canvas.

Tar gel is very viscous and dries clear.

ART TIP: Pure black doesn’t occur in nature, or so many artists believe. They think using pure black makes your painting appear artificial, fake, phony! I tend to agree sometimes, especially with figurative work. And, when I see an entire background that’s solid black, I want to tear out my hair! But that’s just me.

1.     Paint the entire thing with very dark colors of your choice (I used umber, deep red, and dark violet on an unwanted painting).

Guhin, art+blog
The light areas shown here were
actually apologies.

2.     Let dry.

3.    Apply strings of tar gel in line patterns, and some shapes as well. Drizzle fine lines from a skewer or knife, or pour some tar gel into a squeeze bottle. Try various size tips and not ON the paper but from above. Allow to dry before the next step.

tar gel, Guhin, how-to
Next week's post will show more tar gel methods!
4.     Apply a coat of white gesso when the tar gel is dry, and quickly scrape while still wet. I didn’t have an old credit card handy, so I grabbed a square of Styrofoam. Leave some gesso in places! Scraping reveals the raised tar gel designs. You can even wipe them with a rag if the tar gel lines and shapes aren’t showing up well enough. That's what I had to do. (But again, you’ll want some gessoed areas for the next step!)
painting, acrylic, technique
Don't let the coat of gesso dry!!!

tutorial, mixed-media
Scraping off some of the gesso.
5. Let what's left of the gesso dry completely. Then use liquid acrylic ink or diluted high-flow acrylics to complete the painting. Transparent paint allows the darker layer below to show through. Watercolors even work well.

Bright wallpaper, anyone? 
ART TIP: Plastic vessels you might ordinarily discard (but
cleaned ones!) make great palettes. With so much goods-packaging available, why add new Styrofoam plates to the landfill after a paint session? I know they’re sturdy, but they don’t decompose for a million years! When an artist recommended them in her recent art book (new plates!), I was sick at heart. Just wash old ones, please.

REVERSE VARIATION: On absorbent paper such as good, smooth watercolor paper,
   no need for the dark layer or the gesso! See next week’s post for examples!
Although my finished acrylic painting (see above) looks rather juvenile to me, I encourage you to do more with this fabulous method! Add collage to the painting, or use the technique over a collage. Use more transparent colors than I did, perhaps. Go a little nuts with it!



  1. GREAT ideas...I love the textures and lines.

  2. For those of you who may not know (yet), Sue is a terrific art instructor!


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