As a follow-up to our previous post, where Denise Balconoff demonstrated creating “die-dye” trees using a masking technique (Link provided at the bottom of this post.), I thought it would be great to provide a little information regarding masking fluid.
Masking fluid, also known as liquid frisket, is a very handy tool for creating fine art, and is used to preserve white areas that would be too tiny or complex to paint around. Masking fluid is especially important for highly pigmented mediums such as alcohol ink that will stain your art surface (or substrate). White space and backgrounds are often
White space and backgrounds are important elements of a painting because white is essential to creating “light” in a painting. Once the bright colors of alcohol ink have touched a white Yupo background, there’s no going back. One of the fun things about working with alcohol ink is that the inks have a mind of their own, but this also makes it difficult to control, especially when you’re trying to create a representational piece. Frisket and masking fluid are essential tools when you know you have an area that you need to contrast or keep lighter.
But, what is Masking fluid?
Masking fluid is made up of a rubber-like substance (latex) and ammonia. It is typically not flammable or explosive, but it is best to check the safety warnings on the bottle. The exact ingredients that make up masking fluid vary depending on the manufacturer. Some folks even make their own! (a topic to explore for another blog post)
How To Use Masking Fluid
Masking fluid is slightly tinted making it easier to see on a white substrate. It is typically applied using a brush. The brush size would depend on the size area that you are masking. It’s important to not use one of your better brushes as masking fluid has been known to ruin a good brush, even with a thorough cleaning with soapy water. I typically have a brush designated specifically for masking fluid… one that I don’t plan to use for painting.
TIP: If you wash the brush with soapy water, prior to dipping it into masking fluid, you will be able to remove dried masking fluid.
TIP: You may also be able to remove dried frisket from a brush using lighter fluid.
TIP: Do not shake the bottle of masking fluid. This can create bubbles, that when applied to your substrate, can pop and create areas for the ink to penetrate. Additionally, shaking the fluid can cause the latex in the fluid to congeal in the bottle forming a “clump” of unusable frisket in the container.
Using masking fluid takes patience and precision. Haste makes waste.
You’ll want to pay special attention to the edges of your masked areas and apply the masking fluid gently to preserve precise edges. if that’s what you’re going for. You can apply masking fluid directly on the paper’s background or you can apply masking fluid over a previously painted area to preserve the color and painting underneath.
- First, you want to plan and sketch a drawing of your subject/painting.
- Consider what areas you want to remain white or lighter and mask those areas, and apply your masking fluid carefully.
- Allow masking fluid to dry completely. It takes at least 30 minutes. I often let mine dry for several hours because I tend to apply it thick to thoroughly cover my masked area.
- Once dry, gently rub with your finger or an eraser, to remove the dried masking fluid. This is my favorite part. It’s so gratifying to see the reveal and there’s just something about pulling that rubber masking off that is satisfying! LOL!
Popular Brands of Masking Fluid
- Winsor & Newton®
- Pebeo Drawing Gum
Denise’s demonstration of creating “tie-dye” trees: Create tie dye trees with masking fluid!
For exclusive video demonstrations and best practices for using masking fluid, JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!