The school photograph is from 1890 so the challenge was to make the rest of the painting look old as well.
But first, I needed to create a photo transfer of the original picture. I photocopied the picture and applied a coat a day of Golden Soft Gel medium for about four or five days. I brushed the gel medium right over the image. Once the gel was set on the last day I wet the back of the image and started rubbing to remove the paper. After two or three attempts at removing the paper I was left with a transparent image which I glued to the canvas with polymer medium. You can paint the canvas first, and the colors you brush onto the canvas will show through the photo transfer. But I left my background white.
Next came Golden’s Crackle Paste. I applied this with a palette knife and made it thick enough that the cracks would develop. A thin application won’t show cracks. The product recommendation is that crackle paste be applied to a solid background such as Masonite or cradle board, rather than canvas. But I’ve found that if I don’t apply the paste too thickly and I varnish the completed painting to hold everything in place, then I seem to be able to use the paste on stretched canvas.
When the crackle paste dried (after a couple of days), I again used a palette knife and applied Golden’s Light Molding Paste. I applied the paste roughly to get some ridges and valleys.
When all the mediums were dry, I took sandpaper and sanded back any spots that were too thick or too rough. I paid particular attention around the edge of the transfer.
Next, I brushed Payne’s Grey acrylic over the entire piece and immediately wiped the color back using a damp shop towel. The objective was to leave a darker value in the valleys and cracks.
I brushed a glaze of Transparent Red Oxide over the photo transfer then added some stamped, stencilled and collaged elements to complete the piece.
This painting “Bridgewater School” is to be part of a group exhibition at a local gallery featuring many of the old schools of the area. The Bridgewater building still exists and is used as a community center but most of the others have disappeared.