Homemade Acrylic Gesso Experiment

September 3, 2015

I wanted to see if I could use an acrylic medium to approximate the same quality of surface I get using animal protein (hide glue or casein) for my binder when making gesso. This will not be the same result as the commercial brands of acrylic gesso you see on the market. That’s more like paint. The goal of this is to keep it very thin, and sand it to give me a surface that’s smooth as marble.

My choice for acrylic polymer medium for this experiment was Golden’s GAC 800 medium. The description of it being “useful as a modifier when adhesion to chalky surfaces is desired” sounded good for this application. The solids I’m using are the same as what I use for traditional gesso: calcium carbonate. I sometimes also add titanium white pigment, but not this time. I wanted something more grey. The surface I’m applying it to is a medium thickness black mat board. The black will help me evaluate the coverage better, and again I’m trying for a grey undertone for the artwork I’m planning. I normally use a wood panel for my gesso, but I wanted to see if the acrylic would allow me to work on something a bit more flexible.


The mat sheet is in the center (approximately 18 x 24″) with 12 coats of my acrylic gesso mixture applied. I coated the back of the sheet with a couple coats of thinned medium (no solids) to keep it from warping. The amount of medium is roughly 10% by volume, but I haven’t been doing any careful measuring – just going by sight. In the end, I wanted something very thin, like a watercolor wash, or onion soup, so it has quite a lot of water. There’s a piece of the original black mat board on the far left. I placed a sheet of white copy paper on the right to show the contrast.


This bowl shows a small amount of the gesso left over, and helps show how thin it is. I applied a single coat on that black sample to the right. It dries relatively quickly – about 15 minutes to the touch, and the texture feels the same as the traditional gesso I make.

So far so good. I’m going to let it continue to air dry for a couple days, and then see how well I can sand it smooth.


Enlarge a Drawing Using a Computer Monitor

September 1, 2015

I wanted to enlarge this sketch to a larger size, and I can use my computer monitor as a sort of light table to help do that. The drawing is on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch paper, and the size I’m enlarging to is about 18 x 24 inches. Here’s how I did that.


I scanned the drawing at 200 dpi. The viewing software I’m using is IrfanView, a freeware program for Windows. You can use any other viewing software as long as it allows you to zoom out to full screen without any distortion.


Next I zoomed in to a size that displayed on the screen the exact size I wanted the artwork to be. In this case that was 4 times (with IrfanView press the + key 4 times.) I then scrolled the screen to the left and up all the way so that the top left corner of the screen was the top corner of the scan.

I held a thin sheet of copy paper, 8.5 x 11″, on the left corner, and copied a reference mark from the scan to the paper. If you don’t have a mark on your drawing that fits into the area of the sheet of paper, add one on the drawing (such as an “X”) and scan it again.

Now I scroll directly to the right top corner, hold up another sheet of copy paper, and make a mark using the same reference point of the drawing.

I then scroll down as far as the image will go, hold another sheet of paper to the screen, and make another mark at the same reference point. The last step is to piece all three pieces of paper together.

I laid the three sheets of paper on the floor, and overlapped them so that the reference points lined up. I then squared them up with two t-squares, and determined that the outer edge measurements came to 17 x 22.”

I will now use a 17 x 22″ sheet of paper (newsprint paper works well, or I could tape 4 pieces of copy paper together) to trace the image from my computer monitor, and then transfer that to whatever surface my artwork will use.


New eBay Listing: Rainy Street Corner Painting

August 27, 2015

I’ve decided to put some artwork of mine up on eBay. I’ve tried it in the past with little success, but thought it was time to give it another go. The first listing is a painting from several years ago, “Rainy Street Corner.”

Rainy Streetcorner

Rainy Streetcorner

Here’s a direct link to the eBay listing for this painting.

I plan to add a few more over the next few days, starting with older work first. My thought is to set up a separate blog to list just these items for sale, and keep this blog as a place to show works in progress, so that things don’t get cluttered. As soon as I get that going I’ll post a link here, and I’ll also update my website as necessary.

Hopefully this will be a productive venture this time. You can certainly help that along by reviewing this item and those to come, and making a purchase if the spirit moves you. I’m open to any feedback from others who have had experience with this, so please post comments. Wish me luck!

I’ve set up another blog now. As I mentioned above, it will only be used for announcing artwork that I have up for sale.
Link: dbclemons.blogspot.com


Drawing Final: Cowgirl at the Park

August 25, 2015


Okay, I’m calling this one done. I may work up a background for her at some point, but that will be a ways off.


Ink wash on illustration bard, 18 x 24 inches.


Drawing Update 3: Cowgirl at the Park

August 24, 2015


Almost done. I need to add some value to the brighter areas, like her face and front leg, and then smooth out some of the shading.



Drawing Update 2: Cowgirl at the Park

August 19, 2015

I’ve gotten the rest of her figure drawn in the with lightest shade, and am starting to go in with a slightly darker one, starting with her head.


This is going to take awhile, going back over areas like this, but it’s worth it. It is hard to get a sharp edge with this marker; although, it’s good for covering large areas, since it keeps a consistent line, and doesn’t run out of ink. I may wind up going back in with a brush later to sharpen things up.



Drawing Update: Cowgirl at the Park

August 15, 2015

I’ve made just a little progress on the “Cowgirl” drawing. I decided to go with ink instead of charcoal, continuing to use the Molotow marker with thinned India ink.


I’ll continue working with this light tone of ink through the rest of the figure, then mix up a slightly darker shade of ink, and go back over the darker areas. It’s interesting to work with washes this way, using lines for shading. Its similar to how I use graphite.


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