Amy ShawleyAmy Shawley, a member of the Fluvanna Art Association and an artist representative for Golden Products, spoke recently to the FAA members about creative ways to make prints and collages.

Shawley discussed various products that can be used along with acrylic paints to create mixed media pieces. Gloss mediums are often used in mixed media collage and often blended with acrylic paint. Shawley demonstrated using it as an adhesive to build a collage. One member asked about diluting white glue and using it in place of the gloss medium. She did not recommend it.

Shawley proceeded to mix the gloss medium with a yellow ochre acrylic paint. She also used a teal color as well. She used a heavy gel gloss which is less fluid and has more body, adding it to the paint and painting the color onto a board. She then proceeded to add a piece of cheesecloth, pressing the paint harder into the cloth, giving the collage an interesting woven texture blended into the paint and gel medium.

Several audience members asked if it’s possible to go back and work on a piece later, considering that acrylic paints dry quickly.

“It makes no difference, you can go back and work on pieces a month later or a year later,” she said. She continues building and blending the layers into one cohesive piece. This simplifies the collage process, rather than the old cut and paste method, which can still be employed. But using Shawley’s method makes it unique and seamless.

Shawley then showed a simpler way to print using a Gelli plate -- a non-perishable gelatin printing plate. It used to be that making prints required, at the least, the knowledge of silk screening or the elaborate and tedious skill of making printing plates from linoleum cut blocks, or engraving and etching or using expensive presses. This method may not produce a Giclee printed masterpiece but it does give artists the option of being creative without the tedious process.

“There is a slight tack to it that helps to hold the paint,” she said as she demonstrated by rolling some paint onto the plate. She used fluid acrylics which flow more easily like ink rather than traditional acrylic paint. She then pressed the stencil into the paint and laid the paper on top.

Another member inquired about the paper and what she uses for her prints. Paper can be an important element in any medium for its archival qualities and long-term preservation. She uses Stonehenge, popular with many professional artists.

She cleans her plate after each stencil with a dough scraper.

“Cleaning it after each stencil removes textures you may not want,” she said as she did another set up with a different stencil. 

Shawley then discussed one innovative product Golden just came out with, a revolutionary water color, QoR, that is to watercolor what Grumbacher did with water soluble oil paints.

“They have made them with the binder Aquazol, similar to the traditional gum arabic which has to be added to watercolor for easier flow and a more vibrant look,” she explained. The new watercolors are more dynamic, have better adhesion to synthetic papers, less yellowing and color shifting as it dries. The color laid down is the color it will most likely be, which has been rare in watercolors. It used to be that artists had to build up layers – known as glazing -- to get the right color due to its transparent nature.

With new innovations in paints, paper and other medium, this frees artists from mixing and doing mind-numbing tasks such as adding other things to get the right colors and consistency in paint. Shawley introduced less time-consuming ways to create art and enjoy doing it.