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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“Perennial Hope” Progress Pictures

I just finished this 8×10″ painting, oil over acrylic. Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of photos along the way, but here’s what I’ve got.

I call her “Perennial Hope”… partly because I finished her at a time when I have reason to feel hopeful after a long spell of depression…
The winds change once more, and I see that look on her face… it’s certainly not an inclination to jump up and down in enthusiasm or even really smile yet. But there is something there, that feeling of having survived, and being aware of the possibilities.