Wednesday, April 23, 2008

. . . varnished paper towels

I discovered a cool trick. . . it's new to me, anyway. Part of the clean-up after I finish a painting is to throw away all the paper towels that I have used to clean brushes or to wipe paint onto the surface of a painting. These are usually just wadded up, dried and crusty, on the table, on the floor, everywhere. Yesterday for some reason I unfolded one of these pieces of trash and found these wonderful color combinations.

Some of these paper towels are crusty and impossible to unfold; some have holes in them. I tried to imagine how to use these papers, disguising their humble origins. I had just put the finishing layer onto my painting that I showed you yesterday, and had a very wet sticky sponge brush full of the residue of the polyurethane. So I varnished the paper towels and here are the results.

The varnish I used is not water-soluble, so I usually just use a very cheap sponge brush and throw it away when I'm done. Also, since these are paper towels that supposed to be absorbent, obviously they absorb a lot. And they take a long time to dry. And you need to put them on a trash bag when you do it, or they are stuck forever. The prettiest side is the back side, the side next to the trash bag. The varnish makes the paper towel a bit brittle and transluscent and shiny. This also works on tissue paper, by the way -- I tried it on some that had been painted with a coat of white gesso, then stained and stamped with other paints and inks. Came out great, and doesn't take as long to dry as the paper towels. I will use these with other papers to make small collages.

There is something wrong with my camera -- everything is coming out blurry. I took at least 10 shots of the top photo and not one of them came out right. I must check on the "ultrasonic image stabilizer" option . . .


Martha Marshall said...

Thank you, Mary!! I will definitely try this. I hate throwing away anything that has any remote chance of art potential.

Polyurethane, you say? Hm. Wonder if acrylic gloss medium will also work.

Mary Buek said...

Martha, I'm going to try various other things on these paper towels. If you try the gloss medium, let me know how it works.