Saturday, May 23, 2009

IF: Cracked - How 2

zdepski's painting of thomas jefferson with cracked surface
zdepski's painting of george washington with cracked surface
zdepski's slide of crackle materials
zdepski's slide of process steps

I thought this may be a good time to explain one of my tricks for "Instant Credibility" - or antiquing the surface of a DRY painting to give it the aged and cracked look. The pieces shown are my portrait of Thomas Jefferson and a detail of George Washington beating someone with a cherry tree branch.

This is an OLD technique, used in furniture making and counterfeiting. You can try the Crackle stuff sold by most craft stores, or home centers, but this is the old way.

The process starts with a DRY painting ... I can't emphasize this enough... These were oil, and I had to wait weeks for all gummy and tackiness to leave.

Gum Arabic (water-based) is applied over the entire piece. Once it dries to the touch, coat the entire piece with Damar Varnish (oil-based). The two different rates of contraction during the drying process create a crack in the Damar surface. You can stress the cracks further by flexing the canvas, paper or board. If you use the face of a hammer from the back, it will create a bull's eye crack... experiment.

Now, once it's dried over night, open your OIL-BASED browns and grays, Burnt and Raw Umbers, Siennas and scumble with a dry brush, straight from the tube, no medium...

Wipe ALL of the surface with a very very lightly damp Turpentine soft cotton cloth, cleaning the surface, but leaving the paint in the cracks...

It really works, but remember... The first time I did this, in 1998, I was doing it on the final Jefferson piece - due on a deadline...

I really risked everything in hopes that it would work. Therefore, I would ask that you test this on a piece you don't care much about, until you get comfortable with the process.

Good Luck!

Click them to make them larger.

The slides represented here are from my process PowerPoint lecture, FREE and available from my site downloads area


DEB said...

Very nice technique, and I like the painting too!

Cserháti Hajnalka, Ojni said...

Great work!
Do you know posters of Stasys EIDRIGEVICIUS?
You will found it here

Rui Sousa said...

Really nice one! It´s a fantastic work. Really well done!