So here’s the latest panting I’ve been working on – A native bush and bird scene on handmade flax paper. It was commissioned as a wedding present for a couple who got engaged at Pukaha Wildlife centre at Mt Bruce in the Wairarapa.
Above is the finished painting, before adding the resin topcoat. Because the flax paper I used as the support was unsized, I needed to start with a base coat of acrylic before applying gouache. This prevents the gouache from soaking straight into the paper and bleeding through the layers – Which also makes this particular paper feather and break up. However, the acrylic layer means the gouache just sits on top without binding, and would slowly crack and flake off over time. The resin I use as a top coat stops this, and still keeps the paper flexible. Here it is with the resin :
It adds a beautiful crystal gloss finish and deepens the colours up too – Back to what they looked like when I mixed them up wet. Le Franc gouache dries lighter.
The resin has also brought out different colours in the layers of the flax paper as its absorbed more in some places than others. At first I thought I’d add a second layer of resin to try and even this out, but when I looked at it again after the resin had set, I decided to keep it as it is. The flax border is matte, with slight sheen in some places where the paper has absorbed less and the resin is sitting on top – It’s rather reminiscent of tree sap on bark and also contrasts really nicely with the shine on the painted area. I’ve decided it fits really well. Better than if the whole piece was gloss.
*If you click on each of the photos, it should bring up an enlarged image to view.