Tag Archives: digital printing techniques

Apricots And Bunnies (not for vegetarians)

9 Mar

09 apricot tree

I’ve been having lots of discussions about rabbit skin glue with local artists recently. It seems that some art colleges don’t bother teaching about technique and materials any more. Well, there we are then! Anyway, rabbit skin glue is a very versatile and cheap size for applying to canvas, paper, wood and cardboard before painting, drawing or doing traditional or digital printmaking. It forms a barrier between the surface and the material you are applying. This is important because the surface might contain chemicals that will damage your pigment, such as cheaper papers, some kinds of wood, and also because your pigment might rot the surface, such as oil paints on canvas or paper.

It’s largely been superceded by acrylic gesso, printmaking papers with internal size, and commercially prepared art papers for digital printing. These can be very expensive. To prepare rabbit skin glue I use one teaspoonful of glue granules to 12 teaspoons of cold water, leave overnight to set into a revolting grey jelly then stand the pot in a bain marie (I use an old saucepan) to melt the glue. When it’s thin brush it quickly over the surface you want to prime. It leaves a lovely satiny sheen and is a joy to work on. I usually do 2 coats and stretch papers first, although some heavy-duty artpapers can take the strain.

This piece started as a digital photograph I took on my travels to the Hunza Valley in Pakistan when the millions of apricot trees were in Spring bloom. I tweaked it a bit in Photoshop (just very slightly with Cutout filter) and then printed it out using a good quality inkjet onto an A3 piece of Somerset I’d previously sized and dried with rabbit skin glue. The piece has a beautiful velvety quality that doesn’t really come over on the screen.

ps Toulouse-Lautrec did loads of paintings onto cardboard, usually with gouache and oil.

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