Commercial and fine art photographer Josh Mitchell isn’t afraid of experimenting. In fact, it’s a necessary ingredient in his artistic process. So when LexJet re-released its Sunset Gloss Coating and Sunset Satin Coating, it took some trial and error, but Springfield, Mo.-based Mitchell established a tried-and-true method for getting great results. The key? A fearless attitude.
“With the new chemistry change in the coatings in the fall of 2014, it’s not the same and has to be handled a little bit differently,” Mitchell says. “The goal is one coat. Particularly with the new coating, you want to put it on thicker and faster. You have to be fearless and have an attitude.”
When the next generation of Sunset coatings were released in November 2014, the non-yellowing, pH-neutral water-based acrylic coatings were reformulated to be NMP-free to comply with state and local safety and health regulations. Mitchell, a long-time LexJet customer, says he’s got a “good handle on the combination of LexJet materials and coatings,” since he’s conducted quite a bit of his own testing.
In a fine art application, Mitchell says he seeks to avoid a “plastic-y” look, which is why the single coat application is crucial. “Two coats would be so thick,” he says. “You want to do one coat and let it dry down to a semi-gloss feeling.”
While the coatings can be applied with a brush, roller, or spray, Mitchell’s application tool of choice is a foam roller. The coatings do not need to be diluted or mixed, so they can go right on and spread with the roller. “It goes on thick, and then I roll it out,” Mitchell says.
When coating a large canvas, Mitchell does one section at a time since “this new coating will start to set up fast … much faster than the old coating … you’ve got to keep moving.” While there may be appear to be a hazy finish with streaks when first applied, Mitchell says they’ll disappear to a nice, clear coating.
“You have to have an attitude. Walk up to the canvas and know it’s going to dry down and be OK. Now attack!” he says. “When you’re done, walk away and don’t look back.”
Mitchell’s experiments didn’t stop after the initial application. Once the coated canvases were dry, he set about trying to destroy them.
“The LexJet coating has passed any test I’ve thrown at it,” he says. “I’ve been in 100-degree heat with rolled-up coated canvases, and they do not melt. I’ve been in 0-degree weather, and they do not crack. I’ve submerged coated canvases under water, wrapped them around models, and put them under water for swimsuit-like ads and art. I’ve tried high-pressure garden hoses and sprayed the canvas. It holds up great.”
For those new to using the coatings, Mitchell says, “You cannot give up. I have found that the LexJet coatings will stand up to whatever creative abuse I can come up with. But I know when I’m on the road and I pull out that canvas and unroll it on a buyer’s table, it’s going to make a nice impression.”