One pleasure of working digitally is the endless ability to tweak or completely change your images, without affecting the original or worrying about matching dried out paint. This caricature/portrait was part of a poster for a long-gone show. However, I liked the character and his polite anxiety too much to abandon him, so spent the afternoon developing the image further. For some reason I was thinking “archaeologist taking a bad snapshot of himself in a mysterious cave”. Not sure why . . .
The background is abstracted from holiday snapshots taken in Karnak, the foreground image digitally painted using a Wacom tablet.
The 3 bronze swimmer masks have now had all their odd casting artefacts dremelled way, been sandblasted, and finally last night were given a patina, to simulate that ye olde bronze effect.
After some internet research (and a lot of internet distraction), I settled on a variation of a traditional ‘salt and vinegar’ recipe, which came out pretty well. I heated the masks in my oven on the hottest bake setting. I then put a shallow dish with a solution of non-iodised salt (1 part) and vinegar (3 parts) in a glass dish on the tray below, and sprayed the masks with just vinegar using a misting bottle. I resprayed several times, lightly sanded off some highlights and put it back: all up the oven was probably on for two hours, and the masks sitting in a cooling oven for another half hour. The kitchen smelt like a very badly run fishshop.
There was some more buffing and hard rubbing on the still warm masks, and then the finishing polish. I didn’t have any of the recommended ‘hard wax furniture polish’ to hand, so made the polish my granny probably used: melting a small amount of paraffin wax and mixing it with some boiled linseed oil: I kept it warm over a low flame, and kept the bronze warm too.
It came up pretty much as I hoped. If I’d wanted a blacker look I might have tried a sulphur compound, or for a greeny/bluey look, I could have used an ammonia compound … Rodin used to send apprentices to pee on bronzes as they weathered outside!