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”
This spread looks lovely–thank you for sharing with us how you used the skins. What a great effect! So sorry to hear about your agave, though.
Yeah, me, too. It was big and lovely and it was painful to watch it die. It left me 3 babies though, and they, having come up when the tree was down, are doing just fine.
I love your process! Thank you for sharing this technique. I’m gonna give it a go… ; )
Thank you for the ideas. The skins look great and I bet the texture is wonderful in person.
The texture is smooth and heavy–but plasticky. You would never confuse it for painted paper.
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.
Aww, thanks. There are weeks I don’t post every day, because it takes about two hours to do a post and some days I run out of time. But I’ve been on a roll lately!
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!
Good question, Kim. You can coat the finished piece with a UV varnish, which would help. I simply place a small piece of parchment paper between the pages. It doesn’t bother me, and it keeps the pages from sticking when I close the book with an elastic.
Thanks so much, Quinn! didn’t think of parchment paper, but that’s a great solution! Got my copy of RAJ earlier this week and am just swimming in inspiration – all thanks to you! 🙂
Cooking parchment is cheap and works better than freezer paper for me.
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.
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!
What kind of glue do you use to glue these pieces in your journal?
Well, since they were made of acrylic and gel medium, I simply painted the background with acrylic and gel medium and placed the pieces down while the paint was wet.