Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Thick & Thin of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint can be used in two different consistencies. Acrylic paint can be used straight from the tube. It can also be diluted to thinner consistency, similar to watercolor. This flexibility makes it a great medium to explore a variety of painting techniques. Thinned acrylic paint can be applied in thin coats as glazes. It can also be applied to a canvas that has been masked to keep portions of the canvas white or an underlying color base.

Arylics also have mediums that can be added to the paint to give it gloss or a different texture. Texture bases can contain paper pulp, sand, glass beads, or other textured material. Acrylic paint is a medium to play with. Have fun trying new things.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Expressionism- an art movement focused on depicting emotion rather than a sterile, accurate representation of reality. Though it is usually dated as to have begun in or around 1905, impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are often credited as pioneers of the Expressionism movement.

Abstract Expressionism- a painting style that generally involves rapid, forceful strokes on large canvases. The general goal of the Abstract Expressionist is to capture emotion on canvas. These paintings are usually done spontaneously in an attempt to tap into the subconscious mind of the artist. Abstract Expressionism is more about the creative process then the finished product.

Here are examples of this method as executed by Jonas Gerard:

Jonas Gerard Live Painting
Jonas Gerard Interview
Jonas Gerard - Explaining and Demonstrating the Method

And a video clip of another abstract expressionist:

Abstract Expressionist Svein Koningen

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moving Past the Lollipop Trees

When some people attempt to paint or draw, they fall back on the symbols that they have learned as children. Remember the square houses with triangle rooves? The stick figures? The lollipop trees? New artists need to be able to move past creating pictures with elementary symbols. There's one simple way to do this: Open your eyes.

If you struggle with symbolic drawing, draw things as they appear instead of how you think they should look. A simple drawing exercise can assist an artist in drawing things as they appear. Set up a simple still life. Place a bottle or bowl and some fruit or vegetables in a small area. With pencil and sketchbook or loose paper, draw the still life without looking at your paper. In order to be able to draw the still life without looking at your paper, start at either the very right or left of the page and begin to draw the corresponding item in the still life. Use one continuous line. This exercise is not about creating a masterpiece. It is merely an exercise in using the eyes and translating what you see into lines on the page.

When approaching the beginning of a painting, let go of symbols. Let go of preconceived notions. When painting an existing landscape or still life, trust your eyes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beginner's Palette

Here is my suggestion for the colors of acrylic paints that you should start with:

Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber
Cadmium Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red
Crimson or Carmine
Ultramarine Blue
Rembrandt Blue
Sap Green
Pthalo Green
Mars Black

Monday, November 17, 2008

Basic Supplies

The basic supplies for acrylic painting are relatively inexpensive. Here's a list of the necessities:

canvases: I recommend 16"x20" canvases or 11"x14" canvas boards.

easel: Travel easels are a good choice if space is a concern since they fold and can be easily stored.

bucket: I use a large, utility bucket. When getting ready to paint, I only fill it about 1/3 with water. After rinsing the brush thoroughly, a hit it against the side of the bucket to shake off exces water.

paper towels

acrylic paints: I suggest studio (or artist) quality paint. Student quality paints are slightly less expensive, but they can be inconsistent and dry way too fast. I'll make my color recommendations in the next post.

palette: Foam plates work well, but there are many types of palettes available. I use a palette that simply holds foam plates. It's easy to clean up and provides an excellent mixing surface.

brushes: I suggest a variety of brushes- flat, round, and filbert shapes. A palette knife and a large brush (similar to those used for house painting) are nice to have. I use both regularly. I avoid cheap brushes as they tend to shed hairs while I'm painting. I'd rather pay a little more for good brushes than have to pause and meticulously extract hairs from a painting.

spray varnish: used to protect paintings after they are completely dry

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Acrylics Are User-Friendly

Painting with acrylic paints is easy. I find painting with acrylics to be even easier than drawing. The necessary supplies are relatively inexpensive. The techniques are fun and encourage experimentation. Acrylics are an extremely versatile medium. They can be used alone, with additives, or with a variety of other mediums.

I'll go over the basics first, then we can have some fun. Please drop me an email or comment if you have a question or would like to share your experiences.