Think I noted previously that I like playing with shapes and textures; this comes from my photography background.  One product that I find quite fascinating is Golden Crackle Paste.  This is a gel product  formulated with acrylic and polystyrene in order to produce an emulsion failure upon drying.  The result is a quite variable degree of film cracking, depending upon the film thickness and, to some degree, the mode of application.  The key word is variable, as it is next to impossible to achieve predictable results from one application to another.

The "Autumn Leaves" photo is a 5 x 7 piece of acid free Foamcore, which was sealed and primed prior to application.  There is some central buckling of the substrate even with this small size - rigid substrates are recommended due to the physical properties of crackle paste and the stresses produced as it dries.  This piece was done as an exercise, just to get a feel for different techniques.  Due to the highly textured surface, glare is evident in the photo.  A polarizing filter might help, but it would also affect the contrast and colour saturation.

Crackle paste does have a tendency to curl at the edges and flakes can completely lift from the substrate, so sealing with diluted Soft Gel Gloss is suggested prior to painting.  This also helps control the overall staining so the fissures can be highlighted.

The other two images show a 9 x 12 panel with the bare crackle paste, and after sealing with SGG and stained with fluid acrylics.  Not sure where this panel will be going, but there are several possibilities.  As the results are so variable, I find it best to play things out rather than try control the process too much. 

Another 9 x 12 panel is about half done, and will be shared when completed.  These were worked on last week; the first time I have gotten my hands dirty in over a year.  Felt good!!   

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Comment by Wenda Spooner on June 17, 2017 at 4:16pm

thanks Charles! this is very interesting to me! wonderful! i so appreciate you Charles!!

Comment by Charles Eisener on June 17, 2017 at 7:13am

WIP - Crackle Paste plus Modeling Paste

This is another Richeson 9 x 12 panel sealed and primed, and with no reference.  The top third was covered with Golden Light Modeling Paste, the bottom with their Crackle Paste.  There was some intermixing between them, which introduces another issue.  Crackle Paste does not play well with other media when wet.  Any significant dilution will reduce or eliminate the cracking effect.  When mixing does occur, you may see minor fissures, or you may not; just don't count on it.

After drying, the entire surface was coated with diluted Soft Gel Gloss as per Golden suggestions.  Originally the whole piece was treated similarly, but as the design evolved the upper section saw somewhat heavier applications of fluid paint.

The lower half has seen multiple layers of fluid and high flow fluid paint wiped on, wiped off, diluted, or applied as glazes.  We are probably about  half way through the process at this point.  The foreground is vibrant, to say the least, but will be toned down and given more depth.  I prefer to start with the brights and then add darker glazes to get the transparent effects rather than trying to put highlights on top of darks.  Fluid acrylics, particularly the transparent colours, seen to work best this way.

Any time there is paint left after a session, it is scraped into a small jam jar, and every so often gets a stir with a palette knife.  As this "mud" is created with the colours I use, it is also compatible with the colours I use.  From a practical perspective, this means I can use it freely to tone down colours or, as in this case, apply it to the edges (or even the rear) of the thick panel.  The same colour may not be reflected in the image, but since it is based upon my palette, it still remains compatible and does not draw attention.  It is also much easier than continuing the scene around the edge, and enables the panel to be hung without a frame.  Will post for discussion when completed.

Should also note that the light was coming from the left, so there is an artificial difference in the light/dark balance from left to right.

Comment by Charles Eisener on June 16, 2017 at 12:38pm

Fissures are much more pronounced with thicker layers, and more subtle in thin areas.  They do tend to occur at the edges of thicker areas, but as noted, the unpredictable nature rules!  Application here was with a 2" plastic drywall spatula.  Autumn Leaves was done with a painting knife.  Have used crackle in the past, but with tube acrylics; working with fluid colours is much easier and the paint does not fill in the fissures and cover their initial staining.  Just about finished my jar, so crackle will be on my next order!

Comment by Karen Ilari on June 16, 2017 at 10:27am

How fun is this Charles! Thanks for posting it. I have some of that sitting around that I've never even played with. I'm inspired!

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