Tag Archives: restoration

Strategies for those Pesky Acrylic Paints

I have tried to paint horses entirely in acrylics before but it’s always ended badly. I find it extremely difficult to blend acrylics properly, let alone get them to go down smooth. The reason I fell in love with pastel finish work is because both shading and smoothness are pretty inherent in the medium. It’s great.

But pastels are not very good for fixing chips or mistakes in finish work. With my recent rash of restoration cases, I’ve been forced to use acrylics- and, to my delight, to get better at using them.

Four strategies helped me in my endeavor to fix the finish problem or chips on Alpo, Doublet, and Troy Soldier.

First: Have plenty of applicable colors on hand. Any base color that might be a part of your horse’s lovely coat can be relevant. While doing these repairs I was constantly surprised by what colors worked and what didn’t. I was very happy to have all these different colors on hand in these great Ceramcoat bottles. I lucked into these at a garage sale for a pittance, but now that I know their awesomeness I’d be happy to pay full price for them. Besides, these little bottles hold a lot of paint and keep it neat and fresh much better than paint tubes, so they’re a good investment. Having so many easy to use, pre-made horsey colors made color matching much easier- and less wasteful too.

Second: Keep track of what works. I use my handy-dandy notebook to write down what base acrylic colors I’m using on the horses so that I can recreate the mixes- or another useful hue- when I go back for more layers or additional repairs. (When I saw the photo of Alpo below I immediately noted on his page “left front hoof needs filing!”)

Third: Work quickly in small batches, with water and a rag close at hand. Acrylics dry very fast, so it’s important to remove applied paint immediately if it doesn’t match. Happily, wet acrylic is easily removable if you act fast. I brush the offending area with water to liquidate the applied color. Then I soak up the water and pigment with a larger, dry brush, which I wipe clean and dry again on the rag. Depending on how much pigment you are removing, this may take a few repetitions. Be careful not to let it leave a line of color around the edges of the area- you may need to scrub the remaining pigment a bit with the wet brush to pick it up.

Fourth: Blend beyond the repair. The goal of finish restoration is of course to repair the part that’s damaged. But if you only put your acrylic patch there, even the best color matching is going to leave a funny shape. You want to concentrate your pigment on the problem area, but use that same color watered down to blend into the rest of the horse. Alpo had a weird “rain rot” mark in his pastel work, outlined in red below. That’s where most of my pigment went, but I brushed thinner and thinner acrylic over the rest of the purple-outlined area as well to blend the repair into his body.

Speaking of acrylics, here’s Lilah with some of her acrylic detailing mapped in. The orange in her mane and tail is a bit garish, but even with that toned down I think she’ll be quite a stunner.

Pony Problems

If all goes well, I’ll be headed to a live show at the end of March. I’d like to have some of my in progress horses done by then, but various problems are setting me back. Arg.

My ponies have problems:

grain

cat attack

rain rot

gravity

A month seems like a lot of time now, but I’m sure it’ll go by very
quickly.

Repairing Damaged Finish

Unfortunately, one of the wounded from last week’s Great Feline Attack was Rumble Strip, the star of my recently finished racehorse diorama. Not only did he break off from his acrylic rod and the diorama base, but he also suffered some damage to his finish.

I am not confident using acrylics to paint a whole model or really achieve any shading, but at least I can do some discrete color matching to fix these boo-boos.

First I identified which brown shades would go into his repair. Then I set about mixing and matching colors to find which matched his damaged spots. The nice thing about acrylics is that you can remove them from the horse with water and a cloth or paper towel if the color doesn’t work- as long as you do it right away. So I could mix a color and test it on a spot without doing further damage to the original finish work.

I needed some darker colors to mix the right shades and to fix the marred spot on his tail. It worked, although I squeezed the bottle of Charcoal a bit too hard…

Happily, it didn’t take too long to fix up the damage. He certainly isn’t LSQ, but he wasn’t before either- and now he’s back to his lovely presentable self.

Attaching him back onto the base was relatively easy. All I needed was super glue with a fine tip and a bit of patience. It’s not as neat as before, but I might be able to file down some of the excess glue- once I’m positive that it’s thoroughly dry. And now the race horses are back on the shelf where they belong.

Alas, the other repairs will not be quite as simple.

Sierra Roana Reborn

Finally after a year of sitting in disrepair, Sierra Roana is once again on her feet- well, two of them anyway!

This was her sad state for too long:

Oy, my legs!

Until today!

I have finally managed to finish her repair, complete with acrylic rod, newly sculpted fetlocks and hooves, color matching on her belly, and a new base. Now she is back on the shelf and ready to get a new show picture (or two!)

But one more thing…

I am very picky about my horse’s names, and if I don’t like the name I will start to dislike the horse. Sierra Roana has proven too fancy a name for this feisty little mare. I’m shopping for a new one, but torn between several options. Which name do you think suits her best?

Take Two: a partial armature

From last post: “She looks funny now…but with some careful filing and sanding, those will hopefully start to look like fetlocks, pasterns, and hooves.” Emphasis added.

When I started to file and sculpt down the blobs of last post into new hooves for Sierra Roana, one of them broke right off, leaving her the original pewter stump. The other seems solid, but for stability in the broken leg I needed to do something more drastic.

I filed down her cannon bone to very thin pewter, and then used super glue to attach a thin wire all the way up the leg and out the bottom. This armature acts as a base for a sculpted pastern and hoof. The super glue, as well as epoxy sculpture over the wire, holds it firmly in place.

So now I’m back to the careful resculpting of both hooves in preparation for an acrylic rod and permanent base. I’m going slowly and letting each new bit of epoxy dry before I add to it so that I build up the desired shape slowly and avoid destroying my hard work by pushing it. Just a few minutes a day and now once again she’s looking like a four legged creature.