Thursday, December 3, 2009

Painting on Copper

Like most artists that I know, I'm never content with my work.  I feel there are always ways to improve and new things to try in order to improve my paintings. 
Lately I've been experimenting with a new support to paint on: copper.
Copper painting has been around for hundreds of years.  Oils used on this surface don't crack the way that they do on more flexible supports like canvas because copper doesn't move with changes in humidity and temperature.  I've seen photos online of 400 year old paintings which look as fresh and bright as a 4 year old work.  And a painting on copper has great glow!
Degreasing is vital for the paint to adhere properly and, like everything to do with the technical aspects of oil painting, there are as many recommendations for preparing the metal as there are writers on the subject.  It's best to spend some time researching and pick a method that suits your own comfort level from rubbing the plate with garlic to sealing with alkyd or priming with lead white ground. 
I can't imagine putting a white ground on the metal because it's the natural colour that holds the greatest appeal for me in the first place. 
The above self portrait is on copper and has lots of metal showing through.  The surface is rich and luminous and the paints seem to have extra saturation on this support.  I'm definitely going to do more with copper in the future!

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