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Tuition and Guidance for the Artist in Everyone

Tuition and Guidance for the Artist in Everyone

Art Workshop with Paul : Acrylics - Wet On Dry Part 1

Hi Paul,
I am inspired after viewing Tom Gustard's show at our local Backstones Gallery to have a stab at small still life paintings in Acrylics. Trouble is I'm terrified of spoiling my brushes....."

Painting Companion Query from Gwen from United Kingdom 

Gwen's Query, (more in Art Clinic) is typical of the dilemmas faced by artists who wish to switch to another medium. Questions that beginners also wish they had known to ask before they set off on their voyage of discovery - before problems arise to frustrate them in their efforts.

Always wet brush before loading acrylic. Water in base of brush thins paint, slows drying in this vulnerable area. artstrip
  Edges of shallow acrylic stroke dry swiftly. So blending into another colour or water is impossible. artstrip
Artstrips Wetting small area first enables soft strokes to be laid. artstrip
Also time for other colours to be applied and blended together. artstrip

She prompted me to produce the tutorial of a small scale still life on a gesso surface, to include in this issue,accompanied by hints & tips and solutions to her other queries.

While acrylic paint does not have the thick body of oil paint, it can nevertheless, be built up in layers. Although the impasto quality of paint plays only a small part in the following Workshop and Step-by-Step Tutorial, controlling the opacity or transparency of the colour is of paramount importance.

Put at its simplest, as the layers of colour are built, the more opaque the colour becomes and the more it will hide underlying hues.

Consequently it becomes more important to understand techniques that will counteract this; techniques that will not completely cover and overwhelm the underpainting, such as scuffing, scumbling and stroking of colour.

An extremely smooth ground/surface is advantageous for this approach, as it reduces the effort required to ensure that the paint strokes have textural supremacy over the surface. Neither will a smooth ground disturb brushstrokes - so important when fine detail is required through the ability to lay smooth strokes.

Depending on the manner in which the ground is prepared, you can produce either an absorbent or non-absorbent finish. In the case of the Step-by-Step Tutorial in Homework, the ground used for the painting is very absorbent.

As acrylic paints are used in this instance, this only heavily affects the first layer, as the acrylic itself very swiftly seals the surface for the application of subsequent layers.

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To improve spread and adhesion - wet small area of surface with medium, which dries faster than water. Colours made fluid with water dry dull and lose some depth (matt medium does the same). A good compromise:
pre-mix fluid medium (water + gloss medium) to wet surface or mix with colour.
If colours have dried flat - apply thin layer of gloss medium to restore shine.
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Adding a touch of colour to the medium creates a glaze - adding richness. Adding a touch of white to the glaze creates a tint - adding softness and depth. Loading the brush heavily with a fluid colour allows a deep wash (pool) or stroke to be laid. The edges of deep colour stay wet a little longer, allowing a wet brush to 'lose' (dissolve) them.
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STROKES Adding medium to an opaque colour develops transparency. Drying quickly, such mixes can be overlaid swiftly, building to highlights. Stiffer tube colour can be used undiluted and will shape the brush head.... ...for scuffing and scumbling. This creates textures that develop as the strokes are overlaid.