Using Gum Arabic as a Masking Fluid

I was searching for a less noxious alternative to latex-based masking fluid when I heard of people using gum arabic as a mask or resist. Gum arabic, a plant resin used as a binder in watercolors and also a food ingredient, would certainly be less noxious. But how well does it work?

I made two paintings to assess the challenges of using this water-soluble mask. One with acrylic—my long-time medium of choice—and one with watercolor, a medium still new to me. You can see the steps and results of both paintings below, as well as an early test.
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My First Poured Watercolor Painting

Completed painting

I learned about poured watercolor from Youtube videos. It’s a time intensive process as you have to wait for the paint and masking fluid to dry thoroughly between steps. You don’t get the full appreciation of this by watching a condensed video!

This moderately simple 8×10 painting took me an entire workday. More, considering I’d already made and refined my drawing. It’s too soon for me to speculate whether I’ll use this technique again, but what I learned from the attempt I’m happy to share:

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“Jewel” Fairy Miniature Start to Finish

“Jewel” is a 2.5 x 3.5″, or ACEO-sized, miniature painting; I took pictures as I went along and thought it would be fun to share them here.

I started out with a rough sketch based on a photo reference that I took, then painted in the background.
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I visited a few galleries recently, and as usual I headed right to the bright, saturated colorful pieces. I want to take my palette more decisively in that direction. So when I got home I checked out a book called “Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media” by Roxanne Padgett and I’ve been doing the exercises therein.

The exercises are simple, fun, and despite having taken college level color theory I’m learning a lot from them. Never underestimate the discoveries possible through simple experimentation!