Watercolour painted directly on absorbent ground on gessoed birch panel
Never one to be contained by any medium, we have over the years made continuous leaps forward to take the watercolour medium in new directions opening new possibilities, and have once again done so here. I am now painting with watercolours directly on gessoed norwegian birch panels. Working on gessoed panels isn’t much fun, being akin to painting on kitchen counter top with every stroke beading up streaking, smearing, misbehaving like so much split coloured water, but I am dazzled by the new textures, the strength, immediacy and directness that results, (and my work on paper is strong).The paintings are finished by painting around the edges and as such can be hung without a frame or floated in a float frame. To secure the watercolour I lightly apply 2 coats of spray fixative, and once dry, lay on 2 coats of matt varnish, just as any oil or acrylic, to seal it permanently against the elements. Having scoured the internet for anyone else working in the same way, & unable to find a soul painting watercolours directly onto gessoed panels, I find myself, for a brief moment anyways, in a unique position creating something never been done before.
Following the natural evolution of thinking processes, as always for me it is normal that things should only become more complicated.
A discusssion I had with art restorer from the AGO, followed up with others with curators/gallery dealers, the consensus is that watercolours painted directly on gessoed birch panels, become, by virtue of needing to be made secure - the process of securing with a coat or 2 of acrylic varnish – become acrylic paintings. They are acrylic whether intended or not.
If as such, they are then deemed acrylics, simply because of varnishing at the end, this to me is a ‘backended’ process of arriving at acrylics. If the watercolours are going to be called acrylics simply because of that, then why not front-end load the process.
That is, work in acrylics from the getgo.
It occurs to me that, painting watercolours on gessoed panels, working from light to dark, working negatively as I do, as it involves building up layers upon layers on the gessoed panels with the watercolours, why not mix in acrylic gel with/to the watercolours as I go along, and so enter a new phase, wherein I now am painting with acrylics - acrylics that I make myself - on gessoed birch panels.
In sum, while continuing to paint watercolours on arches paper, we are also now working both watercolours and acrylics painted directly on gessoed birch panels.