Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Testing, 1, 2...



There's no denying it -- my nerdy side pops up in the blink of an eye!! While I was picking up some home repair items at the hardware store, I found something called Frogtape. Both the name and the color (a tasteful froggy green -- as it might be imagined by the makers of children's crayons) caught my eye, and then I discovered that it had been treated with (drumroll here) "Paintblock Technology" which is supposed to absorb the water from latex paints and create a seal to prevent paint from seeping under the edge of the tape. Well, if it works on painted walls, a little voice in my head reasoned, maybe it would work on watercolor paper. Enough said. Into the cart it went.

When I got home, I decided to make a proper test of it by comparing it to all the other tapes I have lurking around the studio. From left to right: frogtape, 3M-256, drafting tape, masking tape, clay board tape, delicate surface painter's tape, multi-purpose painter's tape, and tape for hard-to-stick surfaces. (You can see the tape colors in the little squares I cleaned off after painting over them.) All are 3-M except the frogtape. I stuck them on a scrap of Winsor Newton 140-lb. cold-pressed paper, burnished them down with my finger, ran a wash across them, let it dry very thoroughly, and carefully removed the tape. None seemed to harm the paper except the clay board tape, which roughed up the surface noticeably. Although it's not shown here, I then painted a stripe of bright paint down the middle of each white space and, with the exception of the clay board spot, there were no indications of damage to the surface of the paper. You can see that the painter's tapes and the extra grip stuff were most effective at keeping a clean edge. Ironically, the worst happens to be 3M-256 -- the white tape I use to seal the edges of my paintings before starting to paint!!


And periodically I succumb to the lure of the more exotic Daniel Smith watercolor paints. This time it was five tubes of Primatek. (I thought I was quite restrained, considering.) I tested each in several ways. What you see here is paint floated onto a pre-wetted rectangle. Although I probably won't make regular use of these, they have some interesting qualities. My favorite is Piemontite -- a very rich earthy color that separates and granulates beautifully. Bronzite has a sparkly appearance (which unfortunately doesn't photo well) as the result of its mineral structure and the sparkle holds up well in mixtures too. Rhodonite and Garnet resemble but are heavier and more opaque than Winsor Newton's Permanent Rose and Brown Madder. Mayan Blue, based on a pigment made of clay mixed with indigo dye, was a disappointment -- gummy and weak and blotchy -- and not likely one I will use in my work.

There's another installment in the masking techniques tutorial on the horizon. See you then.

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for the research on the tape. Interesting.

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  2. Hi, Chris,
    Yay nerds! I find the technique things fascinating. And I'm not even a painter. I just like the organized, scientific way you approach it, and the thoroughness of your exploration. You must have had some research training in your background.
    Irene

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  3. Ut-oh! Now I'll have to go out and find some frog tape just because...well, we love frogs here in this house and I can see my husband using it as a photo prop with our red-eyed tree frog, George! ha ha Thanks for the info on the primatek. I didn't even know Rhodonite Genuine (which I love and use more than Quin Rose now) was a primatek paint...or maybe I need to read this again and it's not the same Rhodonite I use? Mine granulates and I love it.

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  4. I love your nerdy side! :) Its good to see a test done of these tapes, it really does help when looking for the best one to use in watercolours.

    And the Daniel Smith eye candy colours. I look at those now and then and wonder if some of these more exotic colours are worth it for me to spend shipping and duty on then find out I don't like them!

    Keep on testing, your explanations and visuals are so useful.

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  5. It's good to see that there's more than one artist who is fixated by paint sneaking under the tape. Yes, any 3M tape is the worst, according to my charts. I LOVE MANCO masking tape - get it at Staples. I must try the frog tape. Ribbit! Happy painting.

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  6. CHris.....wow...thank you so much for sharing...who would of thunk, huh? now we know. Thanks for sharing...always love learning something new! happy painting!

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  7. Thanks, Cynthia!

    Irene -- you know me -- a regular party animal!! ;-D Our mutual experiments in fiber dyes many years back should have been a tip-off on our shared nerdiness!!

    Rhonda, the Daniel Smith website says Rhodonite is granulating -- I was actually disappointed to see that it didn't do anything in this small sample -- it's a beautiful color but seems more blue and a bit grayed compared to the Winsor Newton Perm Rose on my palette.

    Jeanette -- I also did some tests to see if I could replicate these Primatek colors -- well, visually anyway -- with standard pigments. Exceept for the Bronzite, which has the sparkly inclusions, you can get reasonably close on the others.

    Sandy, thanks for the tip on MANCO tape! All of mine were 3M, except for the frogtape, but I didn't really saturate the paper in this test, so it's possible they didn't get challenged to the same degree as they would in a painting.

    Julie, glad you liked the testing!

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  8. What fun! I love your nerdy side. I was just talking to a student about tape just the other day, can hardly wait to send her here! We are on the same wavelength! Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Hey, Guy!! Glad you liked this post -- hope your student finds it helpful too!!

    I want a bumper sticker that says "Nerds Are Cool!!" If I find one, I'll buy one for you too!! ;-D

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  10. Sandy -- another thought came to me about your preference for MANCO tape -- you use tape to GET leaks that will add to your painting's mood -- but I have the impression from your comment that you like MANCO because it doesn't leak. Could you clarify?

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  11. Thanks for your tutorial. I do love Daniel Smith paints, but also know there's a bit of marketing magic going on with them - I've been disappointed in a few of them. If you are unsatisfied, give them a call and see about returning or exchanging the paint - they are very good about their customer service. As for tape - you can also use regular old Scotch tape and packing tape! And what would duct tape do????? Hmmmm . . . . .

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  12. Hey, Deb!! Thanks for the suggestions on the DS paint. I'll check it out.

    I can see we're off on a major quest here for a favorite tape!! If you google duct tape, you'll even find a wacky site called DuctTapeGuys.com

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  13. Chris, you are a wealth of information. Thank you for posting such in-depth interesting subjects!!

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  14. Jacqueline, I'm glad you appreciate my efforts! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!!

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  15. Sandy Maudlin replied to my question, saying that a single layer of MANCO tape on clean, unpainted paper does a super job of keeping the paper clean.

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  16. Thank you for your nerdiness, Chris!

    -Dean (~_^)

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  17. Between tape that doesn't leak and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (origninal only) this opens up a huge opportunity for lifting out shapes. I want a tape that is semi transparent or completely transparent so I can see through the tape, then cut out shapes from the middle of it, scrub with a sponge or Mr. Clean . . . to find a pristine, sharp edged shape remaining. Let me know if you find one!

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  18. Hey Mike --
    I do have a little trick to accomplish that and will post it as part of an upcoming tutorial. It may be a little different from what you envision, but a very effective method.

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  19. Chris, would you buy the frog tape again or just use the painter's tape? Thanks for posting your tests. I love that stuff!

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  20. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. I'd stick with the painter's tape -- easier to find and it seemed to give a cleaner edge. The frog tape has some sort of polymer in the adhesive that's supposed to create a bond in the presence of water and I noticed a strange zone in the paint at the edges of the tape. It might not be noticeable in a finished painting, but why take the chance?

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  21. Loved looking at your test results, Chris.

    I once took advantage of the bleeding tendencies of some low-tack tape and used thin strips of it to mask out slats for a barn within a landscape painting. When the paint bled under the tape, I think it helped create the rough, knotty texture of the boards.

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  22. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Kristen. I love to hear about experimental approaches to painting -- very creative use of tape.

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