Oil on Translucent Acrylic Panels by Beth Sistrunk

Recently artist Beth Sistrunk (http://www.bethsistrunk.com/) has been making some serious waves with her approach to painting on transluecnet acrylic panels. Beth layers the panels so as to create a sense of depth and atmosphere unseen in much oil work. Here, Beth sat down to share some aspects of her acrylic panel process (well…actually her secrets… LOL) with the members of Smartermarx:

Shown: Allure 14.5"x15" Oil on 3 Translucent Panels and Preoccupation 26"x30" Oil on 3 Translucent Acrylic Panels

"Here is the breakdown of my procedure for the acrylic panels for you to share on your forum. I’ve never shared it with anyone. It’s really not that complicated; so in the spirit of creative exploration for all I’m giving up my secrets! I included some of my research notes and testing methods. While they are fun to paint on, collectors are very wary of the plastic material so selling them has been next to impossible even in the best of galleries. Perhaps others will have more luck!

Acrylic Panels

First, I highly encourage anyone looking to use acrylic panels to do their own thorough research and testing. While, this is the procedure that I used, and all the paintings I created on them are still in perfect condition as of today, there are no established guidelines or time tested best practices for the use of acrylic panels. There is no way to know how the panels will hold up long term so proceed at your own risk - and have fun! :slightly_smiling_face:

First, look for acrylic panels that are frosted and offer tooth that will help paint adhere. Additionally, look for higher quality acrylic panels that possess UV stabilizers to guard against product yellowing and embrittlement. There are many brands available that meet these guidelines that can be found online or at your local plastics supplier.

Panel Preparation: Remove the protective film. Carefully sand the edges of the panel to remove small chips in the acrylic from the cutting process. It is best to keep the sanding block perfectly perpendicular to the edge to avoid removing the frosted surface. You can also have your plastics supplier polish the edges to skip this step but it is expensive. Next, wash with soap and rinse the acrylic panel extremely thoroughly with water. Avoid handling the panel with your bare hands before the paint has been applied. Oils from fingerprints and the manufacturing process as well as any dirt on the surface of the panel will reduce paint adhesion.

After they have been cleaned and thoroughly dry, one can paint on the acrylic panels directly with oil paint. If you want more opaque coverage in the areas in which you paint, use an oil based primer as your first layer. I recommend that it be thinned with OMS before application. It is important that the first layer of paint be very thin, as thick initial layers do not adhere as well. After that, proceed with oil painting best practices as usual.


Adhesion Testing: I used Gorilla duct tape under 48-72 hours of weighted pressure on small washers laid down on top of the dried paint film, as well as scratch testing as methods of adhesion testing. I highly recommend you to perform your own adhesion tests when experimenting with acrylic panels. It really helps to provide an understanding of the limits of adhesion with different materials and layer thicknesses. In my tests, acrylic grounds such as Liquitex and Golden did not adhere as well to the acrylic panels as oil grounds.

Oops moments: If you should get paint on the panel where you do not want it, there are plexiglass cleaning products by ZEP, and other manufacturers, that help to remove some of the paint before it has dried. However, it was often impossible to remove all evidence of accidental paint smudges depending on the nature of the pigment in question. I would not use these cleaners for the initial washing of the panel before painting as many of them contain silicone, which would prevent good paint adhesion.

Good luck and happy painting!"

To learn more about Beth and her efforts you can visit http://www.bethsistrunk.com/ or her blog here: http://www.bethsistrunk.com/blog/


Fantastic! Thank you for sharing her process!