Why Metal Paintings?
BIRKETRÆER (BIRCH TREES), 78 X 55 cm, acrylic on MDF. 2012
Green colour that develops after years of natural oxidation.
I started working with metal in 2013. Until then I had been painting quite normally with acrylic paint on wood. The story begins with a series of acrylic paintings where the green colour I worked with was very similar to the so-called ‘verdigris’; the colour of normal copper oxidation.
One day I got the idea of painting with copper paint to match the verdigris. But I didn’t really like the fake copper painting look and I thought to myself: I should use real copper if I want to have a copper colour.
And so the journey began…
My first experiments involved saltwater, morning urin and laying outside in the rain for 2 months. It worked – but very slowly! I needed more. I got an old book on metal oxidations form 1956 and a friend who enjoys chemistry to help me out and the real experiments began. Now I work with 6 different kinds of metals and at least 20 different kinds of acids. I am still not a strong chemist but my skills are evolving all the time, a lot of time by the lovely mistakes I make, and the amount of patinas I can produce keeps on growing. It is an very unpredictable process, and I love that I cannot predict the result completely. Interestingly, the hardest colour to produce is the true verdigris; the natural green colour that develops after years of natural oxidation.
All my works are made on metal plates mounted around a wooden board. Mostly copper and brass plates but also zinc, iron and new silver. To develop motives I cover the metal surface with self-adhesive plastic film and cut out where I need the metal to change colour.
For developing colour I use different kinds of acids that all oxidises the metal in different ways. The result varies from time to time and the same mixture of acids can develop many different colour combinations, depending on various factors, like humidity, the metal alloy, temperature – and others I am still to uncover. The process is long and very unpredictable. Some acids works right away and some has to lay for at least a couple of weeks.
What especially intrigues me as an artist about working with metal is that I can ‘paint’ without adding colour. The works only consist of the metal itself!
The works will change over time due to the natural oxidation process. I treat some parts of the copper with lacquer to prevent further oxidation, while other parts will keep changing.