Experiments with… masking fluid

I’m going to start by saying that I’ve always been scared of using masking fluid. The whole idea of having to finish an entire painting before peeling off some mystery gum stuff that may or may not tear up half of the paper with it. Nope. Not for me thanks.

On my quest to be more experimental I’ve been thinking about it more and more. Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of including lettering in my watercolour paintings and masking fluid feels like a good tool for that job. So after adding it to my Amazon cart – and then taking it back out a couple of times – I finally took the plunge and bought a bottle.

Because this piece was probably going to turn out quite different to my usual paintings, I decided to try painting a different subject matter (food), in a different colour palette (pastels pinks and oranges). In for a penny, in for a pound – right?

All it took was a quote from Parks and Recreation to kickstart the process.

We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.

Lesley Knope

Here’s a look at some of the different stages of the process

Fancy having a go?

If I had to sum up this process in one word it would be weird – but at the same time it’s pretty fascinating and seriously satisfying. Here are my top five bits of advice if you fancy having a go:

  1. If you buy the same brand of masking fluid as I did, prepare for a disgusting smell. Seriously, it’s like fishy glue.
  2. Draw all of your pencil work outlines before you apply the masking fluid. I tried to add some afterwards and it kind of smudged on the top.
  3. Use an old or cheap brush to apply the masking fluid and wash it off the brush as soon as you can, but definitely before it dries.
  4. The masking fluid is going to feel tacky, even when it’s dry.
  5. To make it easier to peel off, make sure you paint the masking fluid on fairly thick. To peel it off, rub your index finger in small circles on a thicker bit and it will lift.

This series of ‘Experiments with…’ blogs is based around one of my goals for 2020 – to experiment more and develop my creative practice. This means trying out new techniques, using new materials and making new products. The hope is that I’ll develop as an artist, learn new skills and have a lot of fun in the process. My aim is to try one new thing each month and blog about the process as well as the results.

You can keep up with my experiments in the creative process section of my blog. If you’ve got any suggestions for experiments that you think I should try, please get in touch.