Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Paint Test

In the course of trying to improve my carving, I am equally interested in finding ways to improve my painting. Most everyone I have come across uses acrylic craft paints on their carvings and I'm no exception.  I have noticed that, without exception, everyone seems to say, "always start with the white parts." My approach to learning involves first trying what everyone seems to recommend, but then experiment to see why it is so. I generally work with paints only slightly thinned, as opposed to using a diluted "wash" that many carvers prefer and however careful I try to be, I  always seem to get paint where it's not supposed to go, so even if I start with white, I'll get some red on it and then I have to try to touch up white over red.  My experience has been that it doesn't seem to matter which paint goes on first but I  thought maybe I would try a little coverage experiment. It's "Santa Season" so I chose red and white, since those color end up next to each other quite often. For this test, I used Folk Art brand paints:  Titanium White and Cardinal Red on basswood samples. I did not wet the wood first. I applied both colors full strength (1/4), slightly diluted (2/5) and heavily diluted wash (3/6). Then I allowed the samples to dry thoroughly. Next, I applied the overlay colors full, 50/50 and wash, left to right, respectively. Not surprisingly, both red and white seemed to cover each other well when applied full strength, especially over the wash. Both the wash dilution and the slightly diluted paint leave a "shadow" of color showing from beneath. The wash, as expected also allowed the base color to show through. In fact, both the  diluted mixed showed up looking about the same. The white  is an opaque color and the red is not, so if you use a wash coat technique, and/or wet the wood first, you have to be especially careful because it will be  very hard to go over the red with another wash coat, especially if it is a color that is not  opaque. Bottom line -  it really didn't seem to make much difference whether I applied red first or white. I find when I paint on a lot of white parts first, I tend to have to go back and do more touch-up work because the first coat gets messy in the course of completing the rest of the paint work. Final conclusion, the style of painting you do and the actual colors involved my determine which you apply first, but I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference. Want to be a better painter? Maybe switching to decaf might help!

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