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More About Paint Skins

March 6, 2009

Here are some links on paint skins, if anyone’s curious about exploring this subject further. Artists are now experimenting with printing directly on paint skins and coming up with all kinds of other uses for them.

A few days ago I mentioned that Golden’s current issue of Just Paint covers paint skins and other interesting new processes.

Also there’s an article on paint skins on DIY Network’s site. This link is to the printable version.

Here are some fun paint skin mosaics by Al Razza. Some time back he provided a very detailed tutorial on Wet Canvas, but I can’t get the page to load properly, so here it is reproduced on another site.

And I wouldn’t want to leave out Gayle Bell’s blog post on the subject, along with her fun piece using paint skins.

I have saved palette peelings for some time in order to have a handy supply of nice colorful chunks of texture to add to my painting surfaces. Not only are they colorful, they provide unexpected color combinations that can be exciting as well. So I keep a big zip lock bag of them around. I soak these off my interlocking plastic plates that I use for palettes, a very easy process. A bonus is that I end up with is a clean palette that I can use again and again. So you could call some of these paint skins, but mostly they’re paint peelings.


Actual paint skins are created from scratch and made with a smoother, more even surface, and are made specifically to be used as collage elements, mosaic pieces, or as a printing substrate.

Yesterday I decided to experiment with making a paint skin. I used a black garbage bag to pour the paint onto. First I poured a sheet of self-leveling clear gel, then swirled some color through that, kind of like marbled frosting.

Here’s what it looked like on the first day. Pretty disgusting, actually.


Then yesterday, I kept using the plastic bag’s surrounding surface as a rolling surface for my brayers, and ended up with patches of color here and there around the pour. So last night when the paint skin was almost dry, I gently folded both sides of the plastic over the top of it, including the patches of paint that were sticking to the bag, and rolled the whole thing up onto a roll of brown paper.  I left that overnight.

Now look! The surrounding paint stuck to the paint skin overnight, and I’m liking it more. Now you can see the black bag underneath the clear areas. That white patch right in the middle is paint. The whole thing isn’t completely dry yet, so I can’t peel it up. But I’ve teased the edges up just enough to see that it will be a piece of cake to remove once it’s dry.


I’m not going to try to print on this, or any other paint skin — at least for now. In fact, I have no idea what I’ll do with it. But I’m sure I’ll think of something. Note:  As Gayle mentioned in her blog, these need to be kept apart, because they can bond to each other. Rolling them up with a plastic bag to protect the surface works well.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Sherrill Pearson permalink
    March 6, 2009 11:50 am

    Thanks Martha!

    It is so beautiful. All my favourite colours.

    If I have trouble getting it off the plastic bag, would it be okay to soak it, or would that reconstitute the paint and wreck it?

    Thanks again.

    • March 6, 2009 1:00 pm

      Sherrill, as long as you use a plastic bag or even a piece of plastic drop cloth from the hardware store, if it’s completely dry it will peel off with no problem. But it will, will, will stick to is itself, or another acrylic painted surface! Even after it’s completely dry, you would probably want to keep sheets separate from each other. You also have to keep it flat and be careful not to let it roll or fold upon itself.

      You can roll it up, as long as it’s sandwiched between plastic first.

      It reminds me a lot of fruit leather.

  2. March 6, 2009 11:55 am

    Cool…I never knew these had a name! 🙂 I was at an artist residency last fall and one of the other artists had been playing with these. Looks like lots of fun…maybe something to add to my ever-growing list of things I want to do. Thanks for sharing the links & your images!

  3. March 6, 2009 12:56 pm

    Lynne, I just managed to get this piece dry and peeled off the bag. It is so cool! There are clear areas where I didn’t add any color, and then very bright marble-y color elsewhere. It is now a sheet of crazy colored plastic!

  4. Sherrill Pearson permalink
    March 6, 2009 2:43 pm

    Great advice Martha thank you.

    I wanted to mention that last night on tv there was a program on the Discovery Channel called Journey to the Edge of the Universe.

    It was absolutely sensational. So many times during this visually stunning, breathtaking program I thought of you and all the patterns and designs I was seeing, thinking how they could be applied to your art techniques.

    If you Google NASA Chandra X-Ray Site you will see many of the shots that were actually taken from NASA in this constant flowing animation of the journey from earth to the ‘edge’. Just too fabulous.

  5. March 6, 2009 2:56 pm

    As one of my favorite artists and bloggers, I find your art and insight indispensable and check on your updates frequently. I’m flattered and honored that you linked me in your blog today. And your projects always get me inspired to paint even more. Thank you.

  6. March 6, 2009 4:16 pm

    Martha thanks for this fascinating info, the demos and links. Like yourself I’m in the habit of keeping paint peelings, but I now realise there’s a whole new dimension to explore. Exciting stuff!

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