Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Can You Embellish on That?

In the world of giclée printing – most notably canvas giclée printing - embellishing is the hot trend.
Whenever we discuss hand embellishing of prints, we get a flood of questions, like:
  • Should you embellish your giclées?
  • What choices are there for embellishing?
  • What products can be used?
  • How does embellishing affect archival quality of the print?
  • What the heck IS embellishing, anyway?
Webster’s dictionary defines embellish as:
1. To make beautiful by ornamentation: adorn.
2. To add fanciful details to. 

As applied to fine art paper and canvas giclées, embellishment refers to painting over areas of the print to enhance color and/or adding brush strokes to the finished print. The following list of do’s and don’ts for embellishing your giclée prints should shed some light on the subject. 

the tools you need for adding brushstrokes

  1. We do not recommend embellishing fine art paper giclées with watercolor paint. Although our giclée prints on fine art paper are water resistant, the inks can be lifted with water and a brush. Instead, if you want to punch up a color, use a colored pencil (Berol Prismacolor work well,) or use a pastel pencil. Pastel pencils tend to have a duller finish than colored pencils. If you simply MUST embellish using water based paints, use the smallest abound of water needed to achieve the effect you want. In any case, use a light touch at first and experiment on your proof until you get the effect you are looking for.
  2. Fine Print canvas giclées come to you sprayed with a protective coating, allowing you to paint on top with acrylic or oil paints. If using acrylic paints, mix a bit of gloss gel medium to the acrylic paint to provide a sheen that will match that of the canvas finish. Do not spray or varnish over the canvas after you have painted on top of it. Your finish may not be compatible with ours. How much or how little embellishing you do is entirely up to you.
  3. You can also add texture to your canvas giclées by adding brush strokes with Liquitex gel medium (make sure you get the kind that dries transparent), brushes made for acrylic paint and water (for thinning). You can apply it pretty thick if you want – we applied areas up to about 1/8” thick and, although they took 24 hours to dry, they did dry transparently. If you want to embellish for color and add brush strokes, add the acrylic paint first, then the gel medium after the paint has dried thoroughly.
  4. You can add brush strokes to giclée prints on watercolor paper. However, we do not coat the watercolor paper, and adding the gel medium will noticeably alter the density – in other words, your print will appear much darker/punchier after applying gel medium. For this reason, we do not recommend adding texture to giclée prints on watercolor paper.
  5. We recommend that you stretch or mount your canvas giclée before adding texture or embellishing
adding brushstrokes to a canvas print

As always, you can call and talk to one of our specialists to get more information. 800-777-1141. 

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers market their work for over 26 years.  She is also a professional artist and our staff embellisher. You can see her paintings at www.KateDardine.com.