Plaster is not simply for fixing or applying a faux finish to walls. It can be used, to wonderful effect, in your art. The history of plaster is quite fascinating, and lest you think that using plaster is not really fine art, the likes of Verrocchio (Italian, 1435-1488), Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), and George Segal (American, 1924-2000) are “especially known for their use of plaster.”
I love crows, and Leighanna Light really caught my attention with these plaster crow pieces. Leighanna calls herself a Thingmaker, a title that it is so simple and totally inclusive. With it, she gives herself permission to make a thing out of anything and in any way she pleases.
Then I popped over to contemplating the moon, where Bridgette Guerzon Mills displays a sweet spot for crows as well. The plaster comes into play, along with encaustic, in her book of trees. More of her work, including handmade journals, satisfies the eye at amanobooks.
Donna J Hall includes plaster in many of her paintings. She describes her art process as follows:
I’ll often start my paintings with a complex surface of marks and collaged materials. Then layering with paint, underlying colour and patterns are buried. Scraping away the surface re-exposes them. The painting becomes a history of confused and compressed time written in space. I continue, trying to balance randomness and chance against the compelling need to organize and resolve. Works evolve that are both elusive, yet suggestive, of the connection between our environment and our human nature.
Lori Austill discovered that:
painting on plaster was a marvelous medium to combine my excitement for color and texture, with similar qualities to clay. These plaster works are made of poured plaster that is reinforced with burlap and backed with foam core. I create the texture as the plaster dries. The plaster is dried completely before they are painted with acrylic paint. Painting on plaster has given me limitless opportunities for the last twenty-two years.
Judy Wise says she has been “experimenting with plaster for some time now and every time I meet another artist who is also interested in this versatile material my eyes light up.” She is teaching a mixed-media painting on plaster workshop in July of 2009.
I am becoming excited about plaster possibilities, and it crossed my mind that Golden, being the paint company it is, must have an acrylic product related to plaster. Sure enough! Golden carries an acrylic modifier for plaster:
Acrylic Modifier for Plaster is a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion designed to be added to gypsum (plaster) in the mixing stage to increase the chip-resistance of the casting. This increase in chip-resistance does not affect the high tensile strength of the gypsum.
Acrylic Modifier also increases scratch resistance, and provides an overall toughening of the cast gypsum product. Acrylic Modifier does not shorten setting time, and should not have any detrimental effects on the working time or workability of the plaster slurry.
One more plaster note, and this is quite remarkable if it is actually true. CafeTerra informs us that Chinese scientists have developed a “supramolecular” plaster which has a “very broad” antibacterial spectrum, killing five types of disease-causing bacteria. The self-sanitizing plaster, boasting “more powerful antibacterial effects than penicillin, could be used in wall coatings, paints, art works and other products.”
That would be a great selling feature: works of art that cleaned themselves. I think I just noticed the eyes of Judy Wise lighting up again!