We spent Friday afternoon from 11-3 doing some public demoing at our Salt Marsh Studio Holiday Open House. Dottie worked on a larger sized 40x30 piece, I painted a 24x24 acrylic, start to finish, steps shown here. I hope you enjoy...
Starting it up! I have been painting with acrylic paints since my art school days... uhmmm... errr-rrrr... since the late 70's. Since then my use of them has been sporadic at best. I have this drive to keep on working with them until I find a way to be comfortable enough with the process to paint with them more frequently. What I want out of them is to be able to be comfortable with them in a more painterly way. So that's what I work on every time I get them off of the shelf.
I'm a huge admirer of the late Charles Movalli (1945-2016), even more so since finding out a couple of years ago that in the mid-90's he switched from oil paints to acrylics and never looked back. All these years I thought that his work had been painted in oils, it has that kind of 'bravura' look to it, surface and brushwork. That he could take the acrylic medium and paint those strong images is inspiring me to paint on with it.
When Golden 'Open' acrylics showed up I thought that they'd be the answer with their longer 'open' time, and they're a great paint to paint with! You're able to work them longer, and they hold their value, from wet to dry, better than any other acrylics that I've tried. What they lack is the ability to hold up brushstrokes like other 'heavy body' acrylics can, when they dry. They tend to flatten out to the surface. So I've been painting with several brands over the last few years... Holbein, Golden, W&N and Utrecht. For this painting I chose to use the Utrecht, since they also hold their value quite well. Painting on a stretched cotton canvas also helps as the depressions in the canvas helps to keep the evaporation down, delaying the setting up of the paints.
I have the acrylics set out on folded, wetted paper towels and occasionally mist with water. They stay fluid and don't dry out for as long as the towels are wet, and you mist them from time to time. I'm not using any medium on the painting, very little water mixed into it, just paint!
Dottie at work! She has a beauty going...
For reference I used a small study, and a photo of the scene, viewed on the computer. Both were only starting points for the painting. The color and composition was changed, even shapes of clouds in the sky, to meet my wants for the painting. That's one of the things that I really appreciate about acrylics, the ability to change the image around, to be able to re-draw almost instantly, to mold it more closely to what my idea is for the painting. That's possible with any medium, of course. But with acrylic there's no scraping, wiping or working into wet paint. Wait a few minutes and over paint!
Block-in... this is about 30 minutes into the painting. Just dividing up the land/sky, setting the value scale and comparison, for both.
At this point I'm starting to build up the sky design, color and movement. The main cloud takes the stage, so I kept cutting it down in size, molding it's shape and the movement around it until I had something that I wanted. I'm an hour or so into it at this point. We had visitors into the studio while all this was going on.
I've put color into the marsh grasses, the water, and changed the clouds again. I'm pretty satisfied with the sky movement now. I wanted the shape of the water to move up into the sky, follow sort of an 'S' around and up into the sky to the right, then circle back around and down to the marsh. The little puffy vapor patches and clouds are intended to lead the eye around in that way. I found that just applying the acrylic straight off of the palette, without diluting it with water, helped to keep it fresh and alive. Watering it down with either medium or water and medium, produces a weaker looking surface in my opinion. Painting with it straight out of the tube is more interesting, and something that I'm going to keep on pursuing.
McQUEEN ISLAND MARSH - 24x24 - Acrylic on Canvas (available)
Final, for now. Since it is so easy to work back into, next time I see this, I may alter some things, even though it's signed. Thanks for looking in. I hope you enjoyed the little bit of a demo.