Experimenting with Resin – Part 1: Collage Over Oil Painting
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In my last blog post, I mentioned that I was experimenting with a few fun new things in the studio, indulging in the curiosity and creativity that drew me to art in the first place. One of the things I've been playing with is an entirely new media, and I think I'm completely in love! 😍
I've been wanting to experiment with resin for years now, but have always found excuses - no time, no space, too complicated, too trendy, etc. This past fall, I finally decided to go against all of those fear voices in my head and bought a sample kit from Art Resin.
I poured it on a few experimental pieces and right away I was hooked. Pretty soon I was devouring every article I could find, googling every iteration of "Can you put (paper, flowers, yarn, oil paintings, etc) into resin?" and watching hours of YouTube videos.
Resin: Perfect for Mixed Media!
What I most loved about cold wax when I first began experimenting with it is that it freed me from the traditional constraints of oil media. I was free to play with textures, powder pigments, drawing media, and all other kinds of crazy things that I'd been (jealously) watching my watermedia friends using for years.
As soon as I opened myself up to the possibilities of resin, it was like that first foray into cold wax - but even better.
For my first big serious project, I wanted to experiment with something that I've been really in love with lately - collage.
Prior Experiments with Collage
I did quite a few pieces with paper or cloth collage in the backgrounds, and really loved the abstract element they added.
One thing I thought would be visually cool was to layer the collage on top of the oil painting, so that I could layer abstract and representational elements. Cold wax would let me embed thin collage items (like tissue paper) but it was still complicated and iffy, and I couldn't find another good workaround.
My hope with my first real project with resin was that it could solve this huge problem. The benefit of both cold wax and resin is that they serve as "isolation" barriers between layers of media, but unlike cold wax, resin basically wipes the slate clean.
Cold wax can be layered with oil media (paint, pigment sticks, pastel, etc) or wax media (crayon, encaustic, etc) but not with any other media. However, you can layer watermedia on top of oil media with a resin layer in between or vice versa, alternate collage and drawing layers, imbed gold leaf - whatever you can dream up!*
Step 1: Adding Paper
My first step was to layer some paper on top of a painting that I had always liked, but had also thought seemed to be lacking something.
I had a bunch of natural papers with fiber and vegetation inclusions (I believe it was a pack of banana and mango fiber paper, but I've had it for years and lost the label a long time ago) and played with layering them over top.
I hoped that some of the thin papers would prove to be translucent once I poured the resin. (To test this, Art Resin suggested getting the papers damp. This gave me a good approximation, but didn't reveal how beautiful the look would actually be after resin was added.)
I also layered in some washi tape that I'd bought on a whim a few weeks before (who can say no to pretty designs and gold foil? not me!), both to help tack the paper into place and to add another layer of design.
In the areas not held down by the washi tape, I used tiny dots of Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Adhesive. This adhesive is technically water-based, but a fellow artist got it to stick to cured oil paint once, and since it was only there to hold the paper into place until the resin could bond with it and the oil painting, I figured it wasn't any different from the masking tape glue on the back of the washi tape.
Once I was happy with the abstract design of the paper, it was go time!
Step 2: Resin
Next was the anxious bit.... Once I poured the resin, there was no going back. But, as soon as the resin hit the paper, everything was so much prettier than I'd anticipated!
Coming soon, the resin!
Things I've Learned So Far:
- Make sure your painting is totally cured (weeks or months since you painted it), and avoid using a painting with a thick layer of wax medium on it. One of my test pieces had a layer of almost pure cold wax medium on top, and the resin peeled right off. (I bet you could counteract this with a layer of alkyd gel on top of the wax before resin-ing. Just, y'know, make sure the gel is totally cured too.)
- By using an archival-quality resin meant for fine art I can use non-acid-free items like off-brand washi tape or random collage items (stamps, magazine pages, leaves). Once they're encased in resin they are protected from air and the rest of my artwork is protected from them. (This doesn't stop them from fading or yellowing in sun, unless you use a UV coating over them - Golden has a UV Gloss Gel that I use a lot.)
- Don't have a fan going or a window open when you're working with tissue-weight paper. 🤦♀️
Try It Yourself: Check out my Kit for a list of some of the materials I used in this project. I'll continue to update the kit for the materials from each blog!
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After I sent them an email with about 50 complicated technical questions, Art Resin gifted me with a resin kit in return for posting a project with it (they also answered my questions in amazing detail, they're awesome).