Posts tagged ‘acrylics’

“Breakthrough” Another Adventure in Acrylics

I just finished a new acrylic painting last week called “Breakthrough.”   This is another addition to my “Black and White, and Red All Over” series.  Clearly the color gray is present in this piece instead of black, however black is a key ingredient of gray.  Cheating? Probably.

Here I’ve depicted the balloons making their escape and ascending upward through the cloudy skies, far away from whatever has been holding them back.

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This is the fourth acrylic painting that I’ve completed and I’m gaining a better understanding of this medium.   Here’s some additional lessons that I’ve learned:

Layer in Neutrals

I didn’t layer in neutrals when I created my earlier paintings and because of that I had to work harder at applying color into the canvas.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to cover a white or a light color with a darker one.

There were two painters who told me that they always layered in neutrals before applying other colors.   Heeding their advice,  I layered the background in a light gray and added the white clouds. Then I layered the balloons in a slightly darker gray and then painted them over in red.

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The red in the balloons was still vibrant but deeper and richer thanks to the neutral undercoat.  Unfortunately though I made another painting mishap.

Don’t Overdo White In A Painting

I was concerned that the gray background might make the overall work look somber, and that caused me to go overboard with the clouds.  I didn’t realize this until after I painted the balloons red.  The piece looked stark, almost as if I would have been better off painting the balloons directly on the white primed canvas.

The following day I saw a post on Facebook  from Jerry’s Art-A-Rama that mentioned that painters make the common mistake of adding too much white to their pieces making the work look cold, chalky or dull.  The timing of this post couldn’t have been better. So what did I do?

Acrylics Are Forgiving

I repainted the entire background in gray and re-applied the clouds with a little less vigor.  With acrylics you can hide your mistakes and make corrections.

Hindsight, I wished that  I would have done that with “Ninja” where I botched a splatter technique more than once.  I trashed two canvases when I should have just continued to rework the same one.

At any rate, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating “Breakthrough.” I am inspired to work on another piece using the black, red, and white color palette, although this time I am going to try my hand at working on a black canvas. Pray for me.

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Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.

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Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.

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It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.

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Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.

 

Playing With Acrylics

So in my previous post I wrote about creating a series of works in black, white and red; AND that I was going to  attempt this using acrylics on canvas.  This is a bit of a challenge having done this only once.  That was several years ago when my sister and I completed a painting project together for our mom that proved to be unsuccessful, although not for lack of trying.

I’m actually having a good time with acrylics and have started my first piece in the series. My little gray muse in the photograph below was the perfect model for “Chat Noir.”

Here is the prototype painting that was going to be the final except for the fact that I made too many mistakes.  I experimented with the curtain pattern giving each curtain panel a different design so I could determine the one that I wanted to use.  Then I created the gray for the wall at the bottom.  Yes, I know gray is a new color however, the loophole in my little rulebook  is that it’s made from black and white.

The second piece is a little cleaner although I think I drew the cat’s anatomy better  in the first one.   I do like the definition and the outline of the head better here.   I tried retracing the image from the first drawing but that didn’t transfer well from the tracing paper to canvas, so I had to redo it.  For the straight edges I used masking tape this time.  I  also lowered the curtains to hide more of the white space from the window.

I hope to complete this piece by the weekend.  I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible.   I’m not ready to produce anything with a lot of detail right now.

Here’s  what I like about so far about painting on canvas:

The coverage.  You can cover a lot of area on canvas by spreading the color around with a paintbrush versus coloring feverishly on paper with pencils.

The colors are vibrant.  Acrylics make the work look bolder, something that I haven’t been able to accomplish with water color pencils.

The canvas is ready to hang without having to be framed. This is a plus because framing is still a pain in the rear even if some frames are easy to assemble.  It’s just another expense that eats away at your profit margin.  Canvas is also much lighter too.

It’s easier to correct mistakes than I thought.  Some of my straight edges have bled  a little bit.  After my “mistake” dried I dabbed some white paint over it and all was well with the world.

Durability.  Acrylics are less likely to fade then water colors or water color pencils.

And what I don’t like:

The mess.  To my credit I’ve managed to not get paint all over myself or other areas.  Cleaning brushes gets old though.

Working the color into the canvas.  Yes, you can cover more area with color when you paint but still you have to continuously apply that color to the canvas in order to capture a rich, even tone.  This may mean mixing more water with your paint to achieve the right consistency.   Now I know why large, detailed paintings on canvas are expensive.

Trying to determine the right brushes to use.  A while back I did some research on the proper brushes but again, that was a while.  There are so many types of brushes to use, it’s kind of overwhelming.  I discovered that the medium-sized round brush is my friend.  It’s like an over-sized version of my brush ink pen.  I like the pointy tip to achieve the finer lines or flattening it out for more coverage.  A large flat brush is good for covering large areas.

Straight lines are harder to paint than curved lines.  Painting that ball of yarn was easy. Painting the window panes and the ledge, not so much. You would think it would be the opposite.  I had to keep my wrist steady as I painted  even after I taped along the lines to maintain the straight edges.

I’m looking forward to completing “Chat Noir” this weekend and then onto the next project and blog post!

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