Learn how to paint on one of the cheapest materials. There are certain criteria which must be understood in order to produce a durable work of art on paper.
Painting on paper is an art form in itself and there are many areas of technical expertise needed in order to ensure a durable and lasting work of art.
There are many thousands of types of paper, ranging form rough cardboard to thin and textured papers. Paper may be bought in different colors or specially prepared. In this exercise we are going to use the most inexpensive paper, a simple sketching or pastel paper, and prepare this paper for different mediums. The method that will be discussed can be used with even the cheapest and least durable papers and the end result will be a very long lasting work of art.
Paining on paper with acrylic.
The secret to painting on paper and preparing less expensive papers lies in the wonder of the acrylic medium. Acrylic, a fairly new product, is essentially a plastic in liquid form. When it dries, and it dries so fairly rapidly, it forms a highly resistant and protective layer of plastic. It also has excellent adhesive qualities, which makes it suitable for a number of painting and preparing purposes.
Materials that you will need for the exercise are:
- Paper- preferably a cheap pastel or bond paper.
- A few tubes of acrylic paint, especially white and not the student grade of paint.
- A good white acrylic house paint.
- Rough painting brushes.
- Containers for water and old rags.
- Some tubes of oil paint.
Preparing the paper
This exercise will use cheaper quality paper for the purposes of showing how paper can be strengthened for all types of painting.
All that is required are a number of layers of thin acrylic paint or medium on the paper. Three layers should be sufficient, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. The texture that you might like to create will be determined by the amount of acrylic paint or medium you apply. If you wish to retain the texture of the paper, a few thin layers of acrylic medium will be sufficient. In this case it is a good idea to take some rags and gently work the paint into the paper for the smoothest finish. If you wish to develop texture then apply thicker layers of acrylic paint or medium to your paper. You may also add elements or texturize the paper to suit you needs. For example, as the acrylic dries, you may add fine sand to the paint, wiping the excess off after it has dried. However, heavily textured surfaces are more suitable for stronger surfaces, like hardboard and canvas
Once the medium or paint has dried your surface is essentially ready to be worked on. The acrylic paint and medium is basically a layer of plastic that protects the surface against penetration from oil and other elements. Acrylic medium also strengthens the paper. This is the reason why relatively cheaper paper can be used with this method. However, remember that we are still dealing with paper and there are limits to its strength and flexibility.
The final stage in preparing the paper for painting is to stretch the paper. This is not essential, but if you wish to paint with water based paints, it is highly recommended. Water based paint makes the paper wet and causes it to curl, making later framing difficult.
This means that the paper should be placed on a piece of hardboard and taped down with brown packaging tape. The paper should be dampened, not soaked, before placing it on the board. Once the wet paper is securely taped all the way along its sides, the paper will dry and stretch tightly. The reason for this is that once you apply water and watercolor paints to the surface of paper, the paper will curl in proportion to the wetness. This can make it difficult to work on also difficult to frame later on.
Painting on paper with water based paints
Water based paint, including acrylic, is a wonderful and quick medium for painting. Acrylic will dry very rapidly. This also has its disadvantage, as finer details cannot be worked on for a long time. However, there are a number of acrylic and water based extenders on the market which keep the paint wet and therefore workable for longer periods of time.
Painting with oil based paints
One of the advantages of preparing paper with acrylic medium is that once the paper is protected or sealed by a firm layer of plastic acrylic, oil paint cannot enter the paper and rot it.
Therefore, one can use oil based paints and medium as well as acrylic on prepared acrylic paper.
There are a number of advantages to using oil on paper. First, this can be an ideal method for sketching as well as to learning about the possibilities of oil paints, as this can be a demanding medium. It is also a much cheaper alternative to canvas and board and once dry, can be stored more easily. Many famous artists have used this method to make rapid oil sketches of their subjects before painting on canvas. One important factor should be kept in mind when using oil on paper. Remember that you cannot use very thick oil on paper or you run the risk of very early cracking. Paper is a flexible base and if your oil paint is too deep or thick, the movement of the surface might create cracks. The best method for painting with oil on paper is to use nothing by turpentine or white spirits as your solvent, and to paint in no more than two layers for the safest results. Essentially, oil painting on paper should be thin and sketchy. You will be amazed at the luminous and wonderful effects that painting with oil on paper can achieve.