image transfer surrounded by spackle filled with pebbles and small stones

Additions to Spackling to Add Even More Texture to Your Painting

June 9, 2011:

The next demo in my mixed-media class was to create even more texture to the spackling mix with the addition of sand, pebbles, grit or other similar things.

The trick is to mix the plaster, acrylic medium and addition thoroughly. Apparently, just sprinkling the sand or grit on top of wet paint does NOT work. Jeanne made up several samples of these mixes for us to play with.

painting on wood panel with spackle/medium/pebble texture applied
painting on wood panel with spackling/medium/grit texture applied with a palette knife

I loved the look of grit (small bits of gravel in mixed sizes), and went a bit nuts scraping them with a palette knife to form streaky lines. In the process I managed to cover up my worst image transfer as well the bad edges of the other two.

Jeanne had me smear the plaster edges into the painting, as a way of blending the texture into the rest of the painting. She also muttered something about the visual elements (the square wood transfers; the wildly organic texture) being potentially difficult to work with. (Ultimately I ended up with something totally different, a painting about scruff beside the road and the grit was great!)

During the week: mixing up spackle textures on my own.

At home I mixed some ‘Patching Plaster’ that was lying around with acrylic medium for my acrylic/spackle mix. This particular mix turned out to be a little runny, not much thicker than gesso. NOTE: Runny mix turned out to be a problem for several students; our instructor suggested using gel or heavy gel for a thicker mix.

Pet/aquarium stores are the best place to find pebbles, sand and grit, with the added bonus that it’s sterilized thus avoiding potential rot/mold. The nearest pet store didn’t carry anything but fish food so I ended up having to drive halfway across town to find a store that carried fine sand. They only had it available in 10lb bags that cost $19 each, ouch…

In the ‘spackling’ class one of the students made up sheets of samples of each type of spackling mix with labels. I thought that this was a great way to keep track of everything we were learning, and decided to incorporate the various things I’m learning into studies of rocks.

Spackling/medium/fine sand.

The top rock is a combo of a plain spackling/medium mix (the whitish sections) and a sand/spackling/medium mix (the gray). The bottom rock is sand/spackling/medium mix (the rust) and very thick spackling/gel mix pressed through an ex-sequin ‘stencil’ (whitish bits).

studies of rocks using texture
studies of rocks using spackling mixed with fine sand
Spackling/heavy gel/grit.

This rock painting started with gesso applied on watercolour paper, followed by a reddish glaze (medium mixed with various red paints), and then an image transfer that was surrounded by a spackling/heavy gel/grit mixture applied thickly with a palette knife.

image transfer of rocks and spackling with grit
image transfer of rock surrounded by spackling, gel & grit mix
Cracking spackling mix.

If you dry a very thick spackling/gel mix quickly, either by blow-drying it or by putting it outside in the hot sun, the surface will crack in an intriguing way. The rock below has a yellowy glaze applied over the cracked spackling. If you DON’T want the crackle, apply in thinner coats, or dry in a very cool place.

spackle cracked by blow-drying
spackling cracked by drying out in the hot sun
Final painting of two Holey Stones.Painting of 2 Holey Stones
Mixed Media Class Experience:

Our super instructor’s site: On her site she has her work and offers lots of different workshops and courses.


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