How would I go about painting on top of color photographs with acrylic paints?
May 2, 2004 8:31 PM   Subscribe

How would I go about painting on top of color photographs with acrylic paints? I would like to branch out from pure photography and into multimedia; however I have no knowledge of painting process. I am currently taking an acrylics painting course at a commnity college, and while I am beginning to get the basics of applying paint to a canvas, I am at a loss as to how I might prepare a photograph surface for painting. A related question: how about painting on smooth plastic lamps?
posted by blindcarboncopy to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
A thin layer of clear acrylic gesso or matte-finish spray fix/polyurethane is usually ok for developed prints. You can paint right on it, but it may buckle. I've done it with black and white prints on standard matte paper, without preparing the surface at all. The plastic lamp will take acrylic fine (they're both plastic).
posted by amberglow at 9:17 PM on May 2, 2004

Acrylics can be pretty heavy, and as amberglow said, the photo paper might warp. What kind of paper is it? The coating on glossy RC may cause the acrylic to tend to peel, but I can't say for sure since I've never tried, and trying might be fun..!

If it's not important that you use an actual photo, you can make a photocopy, brush a thin coat of glue on the back and mount it onto a piece of masonite (or even just illustration board), then put a coat of clear gesso on top of that.

Acrylic will work fine on the lamp, but it might build up a chunky surface. A type of paint you may be interested in is casein, also known as milk paint. It will give you a very flat, smooth, matte color - like gouache, but less expensive and a bit easier to manipulate.
posted by Hypharse at 9:54 PM on May 2, 2004

Oops, I just noticed you said color photographs, so I guess it is RC paper.
posted by Hypharse at 10:00 PM on May 2, 2004

If you're painting on a smooth plastic lamp, you will probably need to apply the paint undiluted, which will, as Hypharse says, result in a surface less than smooth. I painted a plastic tv shell, quite happy with the uneven surface, but found that the paint could be peeled off quite easily (though not uniformly).

You might consider sanding the surface of the lamps with 00 grade sandpaper (very very fine) to give the paint something to key into.

If you're painting on paper, generally it's a good idea to wet and stretch the paper beforehand, then allow to dry taught before applying the paint. Then your paper won't rumple when the acrylic/gouache/watercolours are applied. Some info. on this.
posted by Blue Stone at 7:30 AM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks folks! I will try to find some time to play with it tonight.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 2:40 PM on May 3, 2004

let us know how it goes, and practice on bad photos first : >
posted by amberglow at 3:20 PM on May 3, 2004

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