Preparing the surface

There are many steps to the process of each piece, making it impossible to duplicate. Here I am using 2 different types of plaster. Venetian Plaster which stays wet longer and can be applied to wood or other surfaces and plaster of Paris which I use on burlap fabric acquired at a local paper mill. I like the idea of the burlap coming from the company that actually makes the paper for US currency. It adds something extra to the content of my work.

Time and consideration are given prior to each step of preparing the plaster surface.

Venetian plaster on board:

You can find Venetian plaster at certain hardware stores or paint stores.Venetian plaster may have color added to it (liquid acrylics work well), I spread it on boards that are specifically designed for painting on. someone had given me some, so I just happened to have them. I use a putty knife to scrape some of the plaster from the can and spread it liberally over the surface, then scrape it off, making a smooth surface. The thinner the application, the easier it is to have a smooth surface. More than 1 application is possible and may be necessary for different effects. In some cases, I might spread a very thick layer of plaster in order for a crackled effect. When the upper surface dries before the lower surface, it causes a cracking effect. Before the surface has dried completely, I might drag my fingers through it to create a relief in the surface. Once the surface has dried, I might sand it, or apply more plaster. With the final drying, the surface may then be sanded, painted and polished.

Plaster of Paris on burlap :

Plaster of Paris is a little more tricky to use.You can find plaster of Paris in any hardware store. I spread out my burlap in the design I wish to use. If there is more than 1 fragment in my art project, then I have 2 separate fragments of burlap. It should be a dry, moderate temperature, as humidity can cause the plaster to be crumbly. Days that are rainy or humid do affect the consistency of the plaster. The ratio is 2 parts plaster to 1 part cold water. The best way, I’ve learned to mix it, is to create a little pyramid as you gently pour the plaster into cold water. Wait until the pyramid of plaster dissolves and add more and more each time letting the pyramid disappear until you’ve added all of the measured plaster. Have your design already before you pour. The plaster hardens rather quickly so you need to spread it out quickly in order to cover all the surface you want to cover. Let it dry in a flat dry spot. When it’s dry, it’s ready to be painted on. In order for a light background on the finished painting the plaster is painted white, before painting any images on it. Because of the irregular surface I use 3 level readers (I normally don’t wear glasses) in order to paint images as accurate as possible.

My new works are influenced by Mondrian and Anselm Kiefer.


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