I get some pretty frequent and expected questions with creating a gumoil print. Few of these questions asked can't be answered with 100% accuracy and here is why.
This process is very sensitive and the slightest difference in your workflow, can change the entire outcome of your work. Here are some of the complicated situations I have encountered. I have had my workflow and process all figured out as far as the gum arabic and potassium dichromate mix being where I wanted them and the exposure time was accurate. I had my Arches paper and my M.Graham oil paint and I had made some beautiful prints. A week later, I was making prints in a different location with all the same supplies and my prints were not working. They looked muddy, the paint was not coming off and I thought maybe I exposed it incorrectly. So, I started changing my exposure times, how long I soaked for, etc. Nothing was working. I tried a different paper and it still didn’t work. I had other issues coming up with tone and such. After much experimenting, I created a different workflow at my new studio location and it was very different from what I had been doing. I was now using only Somerset paper and Maimeri Classico paint. Then it happened again! I had to print from another location in a different part of the country where I was making gumoil prints for a few months a year and none of this new workflow was working at all. I had to find a new mix of paper and paint brand and I was back to success. When I went back to my first location (my home studio), and it wasn’t working again. I was stumped again. After a lot more research and a lot of different papers and paint brands, I was back to using my first method with Arches paper and M. Graham. It was working perfectly. My only logical conclusion was that the water source was the culprit. My theory from a lot of testing is that the water source “can” be what causes the process to be temperamental. I do not think this is the only reason, but I do feel strongly that this can be a big issue when advising others on what to use. I am cautious to offer definite answers because I know this can be expensive to trouble shoot. These are the reasons I will give the kind of answers that I do, as you will see below.
I was asking many of these questions when I started.
What kind of paper?
What brand of oil paint?
What kind of gum Arabic?
And so on……
Here are the best answers I can give you about what to look for, but you have to be the one who experiments with finding the brand that works.:
What kind of paper? Make sure the paper you are using is a heavy and quality watercolor paper that can handle multiple passes through this process. I try to use a 310gsm paper. You can use either hot or cold press, depending on weather you want texture or not. Some brands I have used are Somerset, Stonehenge, Hahnemühle and Arches.
What brand of oil paint? This is not easy to answer. I know what has worked for me, but I can’t be sure it will work for you because again, my theory and experience has showed me it is different depending on your water source and atmosphere. I have used M.Graham, Maimeri Classico, Lukas, Old Holland, Schmincke, and Blockx. I suggest that when you experiment, you use professional grade paints. I also suggest buying in small quantity so you don’t get stuck with a paint that will not work with your own workflow and process.
What kind of gum Arabic? That is really up to you. If you know how to mix your own, it is easier to get access to and is much cheaper.
I hope that my answers and explanations are helpful as you move forward with your experiments. I really do stress the word “experiments” because it is the only way for you to create your gumoil print. You might get lucky on the first try and then again, you may need to try multiple brands of paper and paints to get it right. So when you ask what brand to use, please understand that no one can give you that answer. It is truly a trial and error process as more research and experiments take place to perfect this amazing process that Karl Koenig invented in 1990.
Also note that when you see the videos of some of us artists gracefully wiping off oil paint and ending up with beautiful gumoil prints, it took a heck of a lot of experimenting to get there. Hopefully our videos keep you inspired to continue to make this process your own. I look forward to seeing this process grow!
“The Gumoil Process in not for those who seek instant gratification. You have to pour you passion, time and emotions into creating the workflow. This is when your dance begins”. tc
***I want to acknowledge the following folks who have been very instrumental in my own research of the Gumoil Process: Karl Koenig, Anna Ostanina, Kelly Wrage, Daniel Zilbersheid and Александр Росса.***