by Scott Fraser
Rembrandt, Gerard Terboursch, Breugel and Lucian Freud are among some of the more well-known artists who have chosen to paint on copper plates. Why copper? For some chemical reason, when properly prepped, paint flows beautifully on the surface of copper. It seems like the paint is literally sucked off my brush which allows for incredible detail. I am not sure when it all started, but I know that many icons were painted on copper, so the practice is very old. These have held up remarkably well over time. The combination of oil paint on copper is very stable and durable which are important characteristics of preservation. I had a student give me a few cast off panels to try. They sat in my studio for many years before I experimented with them, but once I finally figured out how to prep them satisfactorily, I was hooked. I usually work on a very small scale when I paint on copper, sometimes as small as 2 x 3 inches. This requires a tremendous amount of concentration, which is hard on my eyes and neck. I use a magnifying glass for both my subject matter and my painting and find it really helpful when working with the minute details this work requires.