Using an Acrylic/Gel Skin

Yesterday, I made an acrylic gel skin with a palette knife and left it to dry. Early this  morning, I made another one, using my finger to mix the colors. I liked the circular effect on this one, and the darker blue/gray colors. Cutting shapes out of a paint skin can be a bit tricky. The scissors must be small and sharp if you are cutting small pieces, as I did. The metal sticks slightly to the plastic and it’s easy to get jagged edges or pulled pieces. Work slowly and steadily for the best results.

Tonight I had two skins to play with, the original red one made with a palette knife:

And the blue/gray/brown one, swirled with my finger:

When I saw the colors of the second one, I thought of the beautiful blue agave I recently lost to sun scorch. The neighbors cut down their 30-foot eucalyptus, and the agave, not accustomed to full sun for 12 hours, burned away.  I imagined that there was such a thing as a fire agave that burned on its own.

Cutting out spears from both pieces, I arranged them to create Fire Agave Burning Under the Full Moon.

–Quinn McDonald is an art journaler and the author of Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art, published by North Light books.

16 thoughts on “Using an Acrylic/Gel Skin

  1. These look like fun.
    Thanks for posting every day, I know it’s time consuming, but I appreciate being able to count on a fresh and interesting post from you every morning with my tea.

  2. Quinn, as skins tend to cling/stick together, how do you solve this when using them on a page spread? Do you just structure your placement so that they don’t touch when the book is closed? or is there a medium you coat the surface with that cancels out this effect? I love the idea of using them in my journals (I use them inside rigid 2D collages right now) – thanks!

  3. It does remind me of your agave plant, only a fiery version. What an imaginative use of acrylic skins. When I used acrylics years ago, I loved playing with the skins, stretching them, etc. but never once thought of a artful use for them. Wonderful experimenting.

  4. This looks like great fun, sort of mud-pies for grown-ups! I wonder if you can use them in molds? what a great excuse to procrastinate, lol! Second the request for info on the glue you used.

    • They are a lot of playful fun, indeed. You do have to be careful not to overmix the colors, or you get muddy colors, but after that, there are not too many rules! My only regret was that I was working in a 6-inch x 6-inch journal, which is not big enough. I would have liked to use bigger pieces. On using the mix in molds–when you add gel medium to acrylics, it slows down the drying time–that’s the original use of gel mediums. If you are using a deep mold, it could take weeks to dry. The paint does shrink and warp when dry, but I think it’s worth a try!

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