Friday, February 15, 2013

Recent acrylic paintings

Happy Friday!  This is a short blog post about my recent adventures with the Golden 'Open Acrylic' paints.  I've painted with acrylics since before art school, but in art school we used them often for assignments and for our own paintings.  I think the brands I used were Hyplar (a Grumbacher product) and Liquitex.  Then as I entered my career and was painting paintings of birds, acrylics were a very common medium that many wildlife artists used, and use still.  I tried, using watery glazes and acrylic primed hardboard.  I will admit that they were nice to use for rendering details of feathers and vegetation in a bird painting, and several of my bird paintings in acrylic were published by my publisher, Wild Wings, Inc in Lake City, MN.

But I was never very happy using them... they seemed like the medium that you could paint forever and  ever with and never finish... because you could instantly and constantly change the paintings... forever! Yet I've always felt that they just might be the 'ideal' medium for a painter.  Just think, no solvents other than water, you can paint on nearly anything that the acrylics will bind to, so no need for fancy or toxic primers.  Brushes could be washed out with soap and water, and you better be sure to wash them out or they're toast!  Imagine walking into the field to paint, and you can drink the same thing that you wash your brushes out with, and that you thin your paint with!  

As my painting life evolved into one of spending more time outside in the field painting, than in the studio painting, about once a year I would haul out the acrylics to give them a shot in the field.  I could usually get one decent painting, then one that was beginning to give me fits, followed by one more that usually became a Frisbee!  That would be it, the acrylics would be put away, until my Cub Scouts would need to paint something, or the boys would need them for a school project.  Then the following spring, I'd dig them up again and go through the ritual once more.

The two biggest enemies of artists using acrylics, at least this artist, has been the Value shift that happens when they dry... frustrating as heck.  And that they set so fast that you have a hard time adjusting edges and subtle transitions with them.

This was my routine for years.  Then about 7 years ago or so, an Australian company, Chroma, introduced Atelier 'Interactive Acrylic' paint.  It had a longer open working time than traditional acrylics, there were various additives that would extend that time, shorten that time, or just close it off altogether.  Being into about 27 years of being interested in these quirky paints called acrylics, I purchased a palette of the Atelier Interactive acrylics.  My results were a little better than in previous attempts at it in the field, but these still dried to quickly for me to seriously pursue them.  In addition to that, there were so many 'sprays' and mediums to add to control them, that I lost interest.  They're still sitting in my studio in a box.

Then a few years ago, not sure how many, but probably about 5 or 6, Golden the acrylic paint manufacturer, introduced their version of this class of acrylic.  Their line is called 'Open Acrylics'.  I have a penchant for self inflicted, art supply frustration, so I bought  a palette of these paints to try.  For some reason, they've sat... probably out of my own fear of failure with them after such a long history of 'wanting' them to work for me.  Until about a month ago...

I decided that I wanted to do something a little different one day when heading out to paint.  It was a really chilly and windy morning, so I decided it would be a 'paint from the car' day.  Usually, I would use oils, or gouache, when car painting.  But this day I wanted to use something that I could paint on a canvas board that I clamped to the steering wheel.  Light bulb???  Why not take the acrylics along and give them a shot?  

To my pleasant surprise, I found that I could work the Golden Open Acrylics as long as I needed to to get the painting done, and the color and value shift didn't happen... Wow!  This was interesting... I sensed a new journey in the making that day.  Since then, I've been painting with them in the field and in the studio, on primed hardboard, paper, and primed cotton canvas board.  I'm finding that this medium is allowing me to think about what my concept is more than what the paint is doing... or what to do with the paint.  It seems to be a medium that I fit, finally, one that fits me.  The extra time to paint is the key, yet it is dry enough within minutes to lay a glaze over.  Then it can be spritzed with a solution of water and Goldens' Open Thinner, and it re-wets and is blendable and can still be worked into.  This stuff is really cool.

There are so many things that I've discovered about painting with this paint, that I will need to write a separate post about them in the near future.  I haven't painted any large paintings with it yet.  That's something I plan to do soon.  

A note of caution that I've learned recently... DO NOT think that because these are water based paints, that they are SAFER than other paint... NOT TRUE!  I was surprised to learn that in fact, Pastels (#1 on the hazards list), Acrylics, Gouache, Watercolor, all water based paints, are MORE hazardous than OIL PAINTS... given sloppy painting/studio habits.  Remember that it's not the vehicle that the pigment is dispersed or held in suspension in, it's the PIGMENT that is the danger.  Water allows the pigment to be more readily absorbed into your bloodstream than pigment ground into suspension in an oil base... ie Oil paints.  The solvent in oil painting is a hazard of course.  So my idea is to use safe studio and painting practices (no eating or drinking while painting, good ventilation, and wear gloves) and realize that aside from ingesting the paint, the acrylics are a safer paint to use because there is no solvent, all things being equal.

So below are some of my recent acrylic efforts.  And since this blog post ended up anything but short... I'll say adios for now.   Soon I'll write up my thoughts about the materials and methods when painting with these paints.  

Thank you,

A Golden Day - acrylic on canvas board - 8x10

Cottonwood Morning - acrylic on canvas board - 5x7

Morning Drive - acrylic on canvas board - 9x12

New Snow - acrylic on board - 8x10

Cloud Color - acrylic on board - 8x8

Cloud Cover - acrylic on board - 8x8


Chris Gillis said...

Great paintings Marc- I'm sure I could tell the difference between these and your oils to be honest.

One of my fav painters Charles Sovek was a huge fan of Acrylics and I remember hearing him say that if the impressionists were alive today they would be painting in acrylics. I'm about 80% oil and 20% acrylics - I like taking them out in the summer on site, its just so easy - one trick I learned from watching sovek demos is to lay your paint out on a soaking wet paper towel from the start.

Looking forward to seeing more of these.

Mara said...

I love your experimental personality. I keep wondering if I have one and if it will ever kick in. If I ever decide to test my skills with acrylics again, I'll try these! Love your work, Marc. -M

Judy P. said...

Reading your adventures has made me pull out the Atelier paints I bought a while ago, but I find they have such a different feel, and 'pull' after a short bit. But maybe the Goldens are different, and it's good to try new things!

MaryAnn Cleary said...

Great paintings! The last two (8x8s) are my favorites.

I just received a few tubes of the open golden acrylics to try (limited palette). I did do one painting and I am still on a learning curve with them, but they are fun. I like how the paint on my palette is still useable the day. I did spritz them with the h2o/thinner mixture and then just covered them with an old tray I had. Some thin paint on my palette that was outside of the tray dried, but anything underneath stayed workable. Amazed.

I also ordered the titanium white and the titanium buff-colored white. The off-white is fast becoming a fav for mixing as I like the temp. shifts between the two when mixed with other colors.

Thanks for opening my eyes to a new world of paint :).

J.O.Rust said...

Hi Marc.
Your blog is one of my favourite art blogs, and I´m very pleased that you´re "back" and posting.

Regarding acrylics, it can be a frustrating medium but very rewarding.
When you know how to paint with oils, it´s a matter of shoot from the hip and go for it.
Golden Open gives you more time, but it´s still acrylics with it´s pros and cons.

Looking forward to your follow up post. :)

Greetings from Norway.

Sherry Schmidt said...

Gorgeous paintings as always Marc! I've been painting in watercolor for many years and recently tried gouache again. Now I'm thinking of trying these acrylics. You mentioned your color palette on Facebook but I can't find it...? Thanks!

Christine said...

Love your acrylic paintings as well as all your others.Thank you for the hazards pro-con dialogue. Will you be teaching your technique of painting using acrylics in the future? In capable hands, it seems one could create a lot of surface depth similar to oil. Del Gish & Sergei Bongart are a few that dazzle using acrylic. You are one of the masters that can use any medium & make it look right.

Looking to see more of your journey.

Peter Barker said...

Very interesting reading about these Golden open Acrylics Marc - I love 'Cloud Cover'. I've always found Acrylics way too quick drying, but have used Griffin Alkyds for a long time and I love them. Have you ever used them?

Ed Terpening said...

Very helpful post, Marc.

Coincidentally, I've been testing Cobra solvent free oils from Royal Talens (who sent me a set to try). They clean up with water also. They're nice and buttery, which was a problem last I tested this kind of paint. So far, so good, but I'm having trouble finding brushes I like. The tradition hog hair get water-logged after a while. What brushes do you use?

Unknown said...

Thanks for this great post. I've had frustrating experiences with acrylics since the 1960's and am pleased to know that Golden has such a great product. Your paintings are beautiful!

Mary Byrom said...

Marc, I started experimenting with the Golden acrylics last year in Plein air. Use both regular and open. The substrate makes a big difference. The primer makes a difference. Alkyd or gesso. Gel medium. Golden has detailed info. And I'm getting closer to something I like.

Bruce Trewin said...

As an asthmatic I stay away from the pastels like the plague! Fine dust is not my thing. I find I am using regular oils but with odourless mineral spirits with a little drying agent added when required. No odours and fewer things to deal with in the plein air bag. Good information Marc and GREAT paintings. I particularly love the 'Cloud Cover' acrylic.

Randall said...

Your doing great with your acryllics and seemed to make the transition easily.


Catherine Tonning-Popowich said...

Just found your blog and I enjoyed reading it. I have just discovered acrylics after painting on porcelain for years. They took some getting used to but I am working completely in acrylics now.
Take care and happy painting,

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Thanks for the review of the Goldens. I've also shied away from acrylics because of the drying time and the value shifts. I'm encouraged to try them now.
These paintings have the look of oil and I like that.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading you post. I am sharing it with my other friends as the information is really interesting and useful. Keep sharing your excellent work.

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Pratyasha Nithin said...

Wonderful paintings and very interesting blog :)

ealy Mays Artwork said...

This is beautiful. Really enjoyed catching up with your blog. What a great painting. There were so many amazing views - I could have painted many more too-
1. oil paintings
2. Ealy Mays artwork

check this out.

Linda said...

Hi Marc
Found your blog recently, love it!
Im hoping to hear more about the open acrylics, also the mediums that go with them.
thank you for posting your work

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review of the Goldens. Lighting For Artwork

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thanks for all of the feedback about acrylics. I'm still using them from time to time but am also still bothered by the lack of body that they are left with after they dry. I know I could add mediums that boost the body, too much added "fixin things" for me. At least right now. As I progress with my looking into them, I will post more.
Happy Holidays to you all.