What is an acrylic skin?
It’s a separate piece of acrylic without any backing or support. Any acrylic fine art product (paint, medium, gel, paste) can be used to make a skin. Apply the product to a non-stick surface and let it dry. Then peel it off. Now you have a piece of acrylic with no backing called a skin. Skins can be used as collage items in a painting, or as an entire layer applied over a painting you are working on.
Which non-stick surfaces to use
There are several surfaces that acrylic paints and mediums will easily peel off from. Here are some: plastic garbage bags, plastic painting drop cloths at home improvement stores that are whitish and cloudy, plexi sheets called HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), Freezer Paper (found in grocery stores – not to be confused with wax paper) and protective report covers that are plastic found in office supply stores.
Which acrylic works best to make a skin
Any acrylic product will make a skin. But to delve a bit deeper, let’s start by thinking of acrylic in two broad categories. In the acrylic realm, there are paints and binders. Acrylic paints have color pigment in them and we use them for their color while painting. Acrylic binders come in three basic types: mediums, gels and pastes. You can make a skin with any paint, medium, gel or paste. You can also combine the paints with binders to customize your skin. For example, add a gloss gel to a paint color and now it is thick and more transparent. If you add paste to a paint color it makes the color lighter, and dries absorbent, so the skin can appear like a colored piece of paper. So any paint, medium, gel or paste can create a skin. And you can customize by making your own unique combination. This means a skin can be made in any color, opacity or transparency, thickness, sheen or texture.
Painting ideas with skins
- Make a variety of skins and store them for later use by stacking them together with freezer paper in between so they don’t stick together.
- Cut the skins into specific shapes with scissors and glue them onto an acrylic painting using acrylic gel as glue.
- Roll them into shapes to add a three-dimensional relief onto the painting surface.
- Create large sheets of translucent skins by using matte gels, or thin layers of paste, which you can later adhere over a painting, as a separate layer, to create the illusion of depth. Optionally you can continue to paint over this skin, or even add another skin layer.
- Create large sheets of clear skins, paint something different on each one, then arrange one on top of the other to create different effects