How To

I’ve realized in my journey with art that there’s a lot of need for basic information like this one on how to apply an isolation coat, so I’m adding a new series of posts that I’ll contribute to as I learn new things.  I’m calling it: How To: A Series of Helpful Hints.  We could all use a little a help, right?  It’s my hope in this series to pass along some good information in a way that is easy for everyone to understand.

For example: I didn’t even know what an isolation coat was until I spoke to someone at Golden products!  I wanted to find a way to seal my art work that included painting + collaging materials and it seemed like there were a lot of opinions out there.   I wanted certain steps I can take to ensure that my art won’t look crappy after a few years–I don’t want to sell something and have people come back to me disappointed in the quality.

How to add an isolation coat to your mixed media painting. Use this technique to protect your artwork!

Enter: the isolation coat.  This kind of top coat is used to create a barrier between your work and the final top coat, which is often varnishing. (I’ll get to that in another post)

And there are different materials you can use for an isolation coat, mine focuses on what to use for acrylic paints and collage.  As a basic rule,  any work should always be kept out of direct sunlight.  It only speeds up the natural decomposition of things.

Just a word of caution:  If you scan or take pictures of your pieces for reproduction, it’s best to do that first before adding the isolation coat to avoid the shiny glare in pictures.

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So here’s my process:

I took a completely dry and finished painting + cleaned it off with a damp cloth to make sure there’s no dust or other goop lurking on the surface, especially on the collage elements.

How to add and isolation coat

I got my supplies ready:

  • Golden soft gel gloss (any other finish will dull the colors)
  • Distilled water
  • Soft, large brush
  • Palette knife used to stir

How to add and isolation coat

In a glass cup, I combined 2 parts soft gel gloss to 1 part distilled water and then mixed with the knife.  Depending on how many pieces you are coating, you can gauge the amount you need.  The tech guy at Golden said to go by how it feels–not too runny, not too thick–it will all be a personal preference type of consistency.

Once I mixed that together, I started applying the mixture evenly and quickly with the soft brush to the entire piece.  An important thing to remember is finish a section and keep moving; do not go back over it, as tempted as you may be!  It will cause the finish to have an uneven “pulled-look”.

Here is a view of what it looks like while applying, it appears a little cloudy, but don’t panic–as long as you use the gloss finish, it will dry clear:

How to add and isolation coat

You can see the strokes, right?  To a certain extent, that will disappear.  If you have a really soft brush, you won’t see many strokes, if at all.  I learned through this process, and seeing some strokes on the finished piece, that I need a new softer brush!

When it dried, this is what it looked like.  The colors are so bright, right?

How to add and isolation coat

And here’s the side view in the sun to show you what I mean about visible brush strokes:

How to add and isolation coat

This was a great learning process for me!  Even though I feel like the brush I used was a little bit of a fail, it still gave me a beautiful finished product– it’s glossy and it really makes the colors pop off the canvas, not to mention it gives the piece a new layer of protection.  And any unused part of the coat mixture can be used again, if you keep it in a sealed container.

Next step: Add a coat of varnish for protection from UV light.  Stay tuned!

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