Do you have an affinity for texture? I know I do. I love it so much that I’ve come up with a couple of classes where texture is the star of the show. There’s just something about a piece of art that has imperfections or clearly has an uneven surface that begs to be touched.
I have long used many gel mediums in my work but when you’re teaching a one day class, it’s hard to use many of the commercial mediums to teach with because they simply won’t dry in time. I came across this technique by accident when I was trying to speed my painting for a class I was teaching, with not just a heat gun, but a heat tool—you know the one that looks like it should be used in a factory or welding shop? Needless to say, it didn’t just heat up my gesso/gel medium—it also burned it and bubbled the surface. The look was actually fascinating.
Flash forward a couple of years and I was immersed in a girls weekend with my art friends where we all shared different techniques and tools while we ‘played’ with our supplies. The claybord surface was introduced to me by friend Jeanne Rhea who uses it all the time in her ink paintings (www.jeannerhea.com). We tried recreating the bubbling accident by heating the Ampersand Claybord painted with my Silks Acrylic and discovered a crazy-fast and fun texture process. After refining it a bit, I have taught this class both online and in person for several years and continually discover new ways to play with versions of this process.
Today, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from my book (click here!), Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink, so you can take a peek at how these textured tiles are created. This demonstration provides a great project for letting loose and experimenting without the pressure of creating a complex design. The idea is to build up layers of glazes to create an intense color while manipulating the surface with heat. You will need to use Claybord and a heat gun to get the effect of the raised bubbles. The texture won’t be possible if you use wood or canvas. I love how the effects are unpredictable when you add heat. You can add as much or as little texture as you like—with a little practice. The Silks acrylics are somewhat water-soluble and will bleed through the top coat of gel mediums, so it’s best not to worry about the details. Rather focus on color, texture and subtle patterns.
Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink is available here, and I’d love for you to get a copy so you can try this project along with the 21 other fun abstract art lessons that are included. Once again, I think you’ll find texture to be one of the stars of the show within the book. If you have an affinity for it as I do, or want to learn how to get started creating abstract work, this book is for you!
Lastly, the true moral of the story is that even when accidents or mishaps happen in art, be open to the surprising outcomes that arise. They may even land you a book deal! That’s a really happy outcome from my bubbling mistake!