As an artist with a history working for art supply retailers, I have a tendency to look at artwork and try to figure out how it was made. I can’t help but ask: "What did you use? How did you use it? Is it archival? Can I use this technique or material in my own work?" When I saw a small multilayered piece by Lauren Arno- a gorgeous floral watercolor with mixed media inclusions and a thick glossy layer on top- at a local art show I was taking part in, I needed to know what she’d used. I tracked her down at the art opening, and thankfully she was more than willing to talk shop, and introduced me to the absolute fricken wonder that is ArtResin.
ArtResin is a two part epoxy clear coat that you can pour over nearly anything. It dries in 24 hours, self levels to give a smooth coat, and is non toxic and produces no VOCs or fumes. It’s UV protective, food safe, and heat resistant up to 120F.
It. Is. AMAZING.
As an art materials professional, let me just say- a clear coat that is food safe, UV protective, AND non toxic during pouring is SO RARE. To have it also be affordable and durable makes ArtResin a damn unicorn among art supplies. The first time I used it, I literally said “Where have you been all my life?!” I cannot recommend it enough. It’s truly an amazing product to have in my art arsenal.
I work with oil pastels, which occupy a weird grey zone of art supplies. They are a lot more stable than soft pastels, which can be obliterated by a stray swipe of the arm or a stiff breeze. Unlike oil paints, however, oil pastels never fully dry. This makes oil pastels difficult to display: if they were truly paintings, they could be hung on the wall as-is, no glass. If you treat them like drawings, you have to frame them properly, which can be prohibitively expensive. Oil pastels make mixed media pieces tricky to do. When you layer art materials, you should generally try to follow “Fat over lean”. This means that it’s hard to layer something “leaner” (i.e. less oily) like acrylics, or watercolor, or even glue or modpodge over oil pastel. Oil repels water, and water-based materials don’t want to stick to oil pastels. I’ve tried a number of different coatings to protect and finish my pastels- varnish, brush on glazes, fixatives, and sprays. ArtResin has worked the best out of anything I’ve used in 25 years of art.
ArtResin allows me to layer things by encapsulating them. I don’t have to worry about something not sticking to oil pastels when I just embed them into a layer of resin. I can incorporate glitter, pigments, textured papers. I don’t have to worry about glass- ArtResin acts as a fantastic shield against scratching and damage, and protects from fading and bleaching too. I personally can’t get enough of the shiny gloss coat, as well- it intensifies my colors and gives everything a fully finished look which I love.
I’ve also got to give a shout-out to their website- it includes incredibly in depth FAQs, instructions on the peculiarities of using ArtResin on a wide range of substrates and materials, and even a smartphone level that makes pouring the resin much simpler. The company really has a scientific and inquisitive mindset, and cares about their product and how it works. The Frequently Asked Questions are more like “Questions Asked EVER” in that they cover everything from “What happens if it freezes?” to a slew of “Can I use this on X?” inquiries, plus all the instructional videos you could ever want. Being a huge nerd about art materials, this is the kind of transparency I want from all my art materials manufacturers. Art is about experimentation, and they do a really great job of keeping all that info in an easily accessible place.
There are, of course, things I need to be careful of when using ArtResin. The ArtResin doesn’t stick well to straight oil pastel either, so a layer of some kind of clear coat is essential. As with any resin you have to be mindful of hairs, dust and dirt getting caught in the mix. It’s not toxic but also not great for sensitive skin, so gloves and attention are important while working with the liquids. It has a long “open” time, so you have to protect the resin while it sets (in an apartment with cats, this can be tricky). You also remove little bubbles in the resin by torching it with a creme brulee torch, which can feel a little intense, especially if your studio space is also your living space.
Overall though, ArtResin gives me a freedom to do things with my artwork that aren’t feasible any other way. I’ve already used it on my artwork, especially smaller pieces that would be annoying to glaze, on a glittery phone case (no one wants stray glitter around, bonded glitter only!), and am planning on using it on serving trays, coasters, tabletops, cups and more. While selling my work, I have found that people who feel leery about spending a lot of money on a framed traditional artwork are sometimes much more willing to buy something that’s both artistic and functional (like a tray, or furniture, or a jewelry box), so this gives me the freedom to expand what I have for sale.
It really opens so many doors and puts so many possibilities within reach. I can't wait to see all the new uses people will find for ArtResin, and how I'll push my art further using it in the future!
Originally written for Merion Art's blog
“Cashiers”, “sales staff”, “register guy”, “The Lady at the Counter”- we go by many names. We are art materials retailers, and we are your point of contact during your shopping experience. When you’ve been working in the Art Retail business for awhile, you begin to see trends in questions you’re asked, problems you need to solve, and issues you encounter over and over. Despite this, one of the things I hear most frequently is “NOTHANKS!JUSTLOOKING!” in response to “Can I help you with anything?”
While I understand the impulse to avoid overzealous salespeople, as someone on the other side of the counter, I want to explain why you should chat with the cashier. Aside from the obvious facts that 1) it’s our job to ask customers if they need help, and 2) the sales floor staff know where all the things live, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea not to tune out the sales staff at your local art store. In art as in many other aspects of life, communication is key. Here are four reasons why talking to your art materials professionals is a really good plan.
(Originally published as a blog post for Merion Art)
Like many people, I was first introduced to oil pastels in elementary school art class, in the form of CrayPas. As an adult, I can still count the number of oil pastel artists I’ve met on one hand. When I show my artwork, people often have a hard time identifying the medium, and when I tell them, they’re still surprised. Often, they’ll say: “Oil pastels? I’ve thought about trying those, but aren’t they really hard to use?” or “Oil Pastels? Aren’t those only for kids?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve answered those questions, I’d have a lucrative silly-response side-hustle going.
Oil pastels are easy to use, and they’re not just for kids. Yes, there’s a learning curve- a drawing done in oil pastel usually needs a little development to look good, and that can scare people away. But there are huge benefits to using oil pastels. Oil pastels are cheap, easy to clean, easy to transport, easy to control, and perfect for artists of all ages and skill levels. Their particular composition and versatility allows for amazing effects, gorgeous textures, subtle gradients, and luminous saturated color.