Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Art Class: String Gel

So my first class last week was somewhat 'serious'...a little bit of thinking, and no obviously art piece came out of it. This week I thought we would play with a truly fun art medium: String Gel (by Liquitex)... (also called 'Tar Gel' by Golden). I use both in this demonstration.

It is a clear acrylic medium, which has a consistency very similar to honey. That makes it very messy – as it will dribble all over the place while you try to take some out. You can add colour to it, or just use it clear to add lots of texture.

But, before we play. There are some rules:

  1. Do not 'agitate' the gel very much - ie. do not stir or shake it before using. If you do it will a) get a whole bunch of air bubbles in it (unless that's what you want), and b) it will loose some of it's stringy consistency. I will note here, that I don't *always* find this if I mix carefully, but it's the golden rule that is everywhere, so it is noteworthy.
  2. If you choose to add colour, you only need to add a teeny, tiny amount - like a drop. Fluid acrylics are best to add, but any acrylic will work. Slowly mix in the colour, and then let it sit so that #1 does not happen. This medium takes paint wonderfully, and completely stretches your paint.
  3. This gel is self-levelling, so you would like your layers of string to build up on top of each other, then you need to let each layer dry. It is quick-drying, so you don't have to wait long. You also don't have to wait for it to be completely dry - once it has a ‘dry film’ on the layer, it should be okay.
  4. Not really a rule, but good piece of knowledge: I found that Golden’s Tar Gel would give me thinner strings than Liquitex’s String Gel – so purchase based on what you’d like to achieve.

Okay, with that out of the way - let's play!!

Let’s first add a teeny amount of colour to a portion of the medium that I have placed into a separate container. I found that mixing on a palate does not work well, especially if you are letting it sit to get out all the air bubbles from mixing.

Mixing it slowly into the medium until it is a solid colour. The colour you see is the colour that it will dry to.

I found that a palette knife, with a narrow tip, works before for dipping into the medium and drizzling over my support. Some people put it into bottles and pour it out, others use the ends of brushes, or whatever they can get their hands on.


This picture is blurry b/c I was moving with the palette knife so quickly to keep my drizzle thin. You can drizzle more slowly and get a thicker one. As you can see, I have air bubbles – I am not the most patient person, and once I started working on this piece, I just got so into it.

I drew my inspiration for this play from some abstract pieces that I have found online that I thought were interesting.

Jackson Pollock - No.9 - a huge contributor to abstract expressionism, this artist created his piece on a huge scale...mine will be a bit smaller. He splattered the paint around, and considering 'String Gel' is a fairly new medium, I don't think he had it at his disposal.

And here is my completed work:


Where Is The Love? - 9x12" acrylic on masonite board

I might be adding some more layers to it…not 100% sure that it feels finished. But I still wanted to share with you where I was with it.

If you can get your hands on this stuff it's definitely worth a try...not sure if you'll finish using the bottle? I used some of it for a very shiny, almost 'hard candy' sort of clear coat on a recent painting of mine. It does take a bit of experimentation to get a feel for it.


Cathy said...

A part of Pollock with a charming heart. I Luke your work!!!

Nick Thabit said...

Which gel would you say is "stickier," ie if you touched it again with the knife, would draw lots of fine threads off the surface? I'm preparing to work with a knife and want the feel of "long" paint, the closest to taffy, tar, etc. Liquitex seems "globbier," but working over a section may bring new effects; what do you think?

Mims said...

Did you paint the canvas a solid color before you did the drip?