On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, I discovered artwork using 'acrylic skins'. It caught my attention as I saw an artist's gallery station with drying skins laid out and could see the end results displayed on canvas in the gallery. When I returned to my own studio, I decided to experiment using the technique. I watched a few You Tube videos by Debbie Arnold, an artist who works with acrylic skins to create abstract collages to fuel my understanding of the process. I wanted to use my acrylic skins to give an added dimension to a landscape, specifically the Blue Ridge Mountains I'd viewed while on my trip. I can really recommend Debbie's 'how to' videos showing each stage and advising on tools and media required.
Making the skins themselves was enjoyable but a learning process. I used silicon mats to lay out the acrylic matte medium which forms the base of the skin. I don't think it worked as well as Debbie's polythene covered cardboard as it wasn't as flexible so the skin buckled a little as it dried. It was difficult to gauge how thick to layer the matte medium. I was afraid it would be too delicate if I laid it thinly but making it thicker meant that it didn't have as much movement as it should have had. These are things that I'm sure I'll get more practiced and instinctive in future pieces. My favorite part was dropping in my liquid acrylic paints and using my clay tools to move the paint around. There was something very satisfying and fluid about this stage. I guess there is a temptation to overwork the paint with a little bit of judgement the outcome is pretty. Then the difficult part - patience! I had to wait a week for the skins to dry properly to be ready to form into my landscape painting on canvas.