Painting #1, Step 5 — adding acrylic skins

What are acrylic skins?

I started working on painting #2, because I didn’t know what was missing from Painting #1. In doing so, I realized exactly what it needed — acrylic skins. In simple terms, an acrylic skin is dried paint. Really, that’s all there is to it. Spread acrylic paint or medium in a thin (or thick) layer and let it dry and you have an acrylic skin. The thicker it is the longer it takes to dry. Once dry, the skins are very strong and pliable. They can be cut and used in many different ways. I usually use them as collage elements as I did in Blocks and Blocks 2.

When I am painting, I use a disposable palette paper called Grey Matters Paper Palettes. These are great because when the paint dries on them, it can be peeled off —  creating an acrylic skin! So when I paint, rather than dispose of the palette, I spread the remaining paint out, let it dry and save them (waste not, want not!) Allowing leftover paint to dry into acrylic skins is another way to be an ecofriendly artist. Acrylic paint will stick to itself, so I leave the paint on the palette until I’m ready to use them. I can stack them because the paint won’t stick to the backside of the palette. Here’s a few of my skins dried on the palette paper.

Acrylic skins
Acrylic skins on palette paper

Now you might have already guessed that I use acrylic skins in painting #2. Before I go into the process I used to finish painting #2, let’s finish up painting #1.  You can see the entire process in previous blogs: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Step 4. This is where I left off at the end of step 4.

After sep 4-c pf my acrylic painting technique
Painting #1, after step 4-c.

Painting # 1 of my ‘waste not, want not’ acrylic painting process

In going through my stash of acrylic skins to use in painting #2, I came across a palette that used the same colors I use in painting #1. It was the perfect solution for what was missing … and totally in keeping with my ‘waste not, want not’ process.

I took the acrylic skin and cut it into strips while it was still on the paper. Once it’s peeled off, it will stick to just about anything, including each other. My first thought was to weave them together.  So I glued them all together with some gloss gel on another palette. So I have one piece to work with.

Strips of acrylic skins weaved together
Strips of acrylic skins weaved together

My plan was to place this weave as a focal point. I liked it when I did a rough layout before I weaved them together permanently. But … once I did it, I didn’t like it at all.  So, what now? I’ll save the weave and try to incorporate it into another piece in the future. But what about painting #1, now?

I still had more of the strips left, so I just laid them out in different combinations on the canvas until I found something that I liked. Then glued them in place with gloss gel. After some time, I decide I don’t like the way the white looks so I push it back by running over it with some Hansa Yellow Medium high flow acrylics (step 5-b.) Sorry, I’m not getting great photos here due to all of the high gloss gel and flash.

Adding acrylic skins
Step 5-b


But I still don’t like it. I upload the photo to my photo editing software and look at it in greyscale and see there’s not enough contrast.

Step 5-b in greyscale
Step 5-b in greyscale

So I darken some areas with high flow acrylics diluted with a little water. Then I lighten a few areas, mostly the yellow, by adding a little white to the yellow high flow. It’s better, but still not enough contrast. Especially between the skins and the surrounding areas. I decide to take some white acrylic ink diluted with water and very lightly run the tips of a bristle brush across the skins. It gives them a more detailed stripe and lightens them up significantly. The greyscale looks better, but still not quite there. Now I’ve made it too dark. I’ll work on it some more and also put a coat of satin varnish on it to cut the glare. This will let me get a better picture of it to add to the shop when it’s finished.

Step 5-c in greyscale
Step 5-c in greyscale

Next blog … Painting #1 … finished and for sale!