Friday, 31 March 2017

Glass Bead Gel

Detail of  "Turtles" showing the effect of the glass bead gel underneath layers of acylic paint

Blog 13

For ages I have had a jar of Glass Bead Gel which I always wanted to use. This week's blog encouraged me to finally take the plunge to get going. The white gel is made with genuine glass beads and dries transparent. The reflective surface appears bubbly because of the beads.

The gel can be used as a topcoat or in a layer under the paint to create texture. It can be mixed with all acrylic colours but works best with transparent or translucent colours if you want to keep the reflective properties.

To apply the gel, I used a palette knife, but a paint brush or trowel are also some possible tools. The gel is lightweight, non-yellowing and can be used on any support that is suitable for acrylic paints, like canvas, boards, and even paper. You can either spread the gel so that the whole area is covered tightly with beads or as a certain accent for a focus area.

Some time ago, I had already prepared a gallery canvas with some areas of glass beads for a fish painting. When I picked up this canvas now to work with the glass beads, I felt more like painting turtles. I quickly realized that I had to be careful not to push on the brush and painting knife too strongly because some of the beads got loose and fell of the canvas. However, I was able to create a nice texture due to the beads.

detail of "Turtles", on the right bottom you see the top layer of glass beads
Later in the painting process, I spread another layer of glass bead gel on top of some areas of the artwork to create the bubble effect. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to finish the painting in time for this blog because I had to get ready for my painting trip. I will show it to you as soon as possible.

Whether to varnish the finished painting or not is a topic that has been heavily discussed. If you have an artwork with different effects, and sheens, you probably do not want to use an isolation coat and the varnish because they would even them out – something you might not want.

I usually do not varnish my paintings except if I have used absorbent pastes like Crackle Paste. Absorbent mediums should be varnished as this will seal the absorbent areas to avoid dust settling on your painting.

Due to the fact that some of the beads fell off, when I painted over the first coat of the bead gel, I will put a varnish on top of the painting to make sure the surface is better protected.

Before varnishing your painting, you should apply an isolation coat (2 parts by volume Soft Gel Gloss to 1 part water) that creates a permanent, non-removable layer. This layer separates the paint surface from the removable varnish and will protect the painted surface if the varnish is ever removed for cleaning and conservation purposes. It will also seal absorbent areas, which will make it possible to create a more even application of the varnish.

When this blog is published I am already on the spring Plein Air Ensemble painting trip in the Orford-Magog area. I will write all about the trip in my next two blogs.

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