Category: Acrylic Painting

Royal Poinciana Tree

Another tribute to The Highwaymen of Florida.

The Royal Poinciana Tree is native to Madagascar, but because of its vibrant red flowers, it has been transplanted throughout the world. It prefers temperate to semi-tropical climates, so the heat and cold of where I live make it an unlikely candidate. However, we do enjoy the vibrant purple jacaranda tree!

That said, I gessoed Arches 140# CP paper and used acrylic paint this time. I spent hours on this painting, and attempted to do a rather more primitive approach, working for a type of simplicity I seldom employ. Not having painted for some time in acrylics, I needed to work at it. One thing I did do was not the default dabbing I seem to gravitate toward with acrylic. I saved that for the flowers and leaves, in the tree and on the ground.

I am so tired I have no idea if this is a “good” or “bad” or “mediocre” painting – but does it matter? This painting took a lot out of me. The scan, too, is poor – the colors are too extreme – the reds and oranges and greens dominating. Adjustments are not really successful in LR. So, here I think we are limited by the software and its interpretation of such colors in the scan. Still, it’s here for your perusal . . .

Road through the Hills

About six weeks ago I started this painting and then all the chaos of insurance and plan choices and lost mail brought most of my creative life to a screeching halt. It was emotionally exhausting in a lot of ways, but those details really are not important today. Instead, this painting is finished at last!

Details first: acrylic on gessoed 16×20 CP Arches 140# paper. Borders of paper taped down all the way. I probably spent about 10-12 hours on this painting.

There have been multiple iterations of this painting. In the original, a tree was in the right middle front foreground. That disappeared last night. Then the road, which disappeared dead center, was reworked and made visible through the trees this morning. The suggestions of vineyards in the background disappeared, too. Too many stripes – I was looking for a zebra.

To finish the painting, I decided to work in middle of the night last night, and from 10:30 pm to 2:30 a.m. I painted out nearly everything except the blobby middle that I knew was not what I wanted. My husband, who is no art aficionado, always has good advice on painting problems. He and I agreed on the issues. So, this afternoon, I spent a few hours working and reworking it until you see the finished result above.

I have not done a lot of painting in acrylics, but each painting I do brings new experiences. I still tend to be a dabber, but am working to think about how I move the brush more, such as long horizontal or vertical strokes, or suggestions of something with just a blob (not a dab!) of color. I need to work in acrylics more to build more confidence in my brushwork.

So, here you are, on a gravel road in the backcountry, enjoy vineyards and olive groves, somewhere in a Mediterranean country on a hot day in summer.

Trees, Late Afternoon

Third and last of a photo I took earlier this month in Independence, CA, before being driven back home because of Covid. I am not sure which of the three of these paintings I did of the same photo I like best (you can back track on this blog if you want to see them, or go to Instagram!), but this one, in acrylic, was by far the most time-consuming.

I used 16×20 Arches 140# CP paper and a variety of acrylic paints, but first I laid down a few layers of gesso to prep the surface of the paper. The first layer of gesso was thinned with water and brushed on quite firmly to work it into the paper itself. The paper warped as watercolor paper does, but I was really happy to see it flatten out with the second, thicker layer of gesso.

Most of my brushwork tends toward dabbing on dots, which is great for pointillism and impressionistic painting, so I worked at creating lines, as seen on the grasses in the background, along with using a flat brush and using its tip or sides to work paint in a more up / down, side-to-side manner. My next painting is going to include these types of brush strokes, just because. It never hurts to try things you don’t usually do.

Every type of media – watercolor, gouache, acrylics – has its own “language” – that is, the way you have to work with it. Acrylics are rather heavy on paper and I need to think ahead for what I want to do. I tried the slower drying acrylic paints, and just did not like them. As a result, the ones I use tend to dry rather quickly. Filling the palette with every color I think I might want to use is a waste of paint. Instead, I have to plan, not like a general, but certainly I need to anticipate what comes first, what comes next, and so on. I also have to think about brushes and brushwork. Painting can be spontaneous, but it also needs experience to allow for more success (however you want to define “success”) than failure.

One thing I considered for this painting, but did not do, was to lay down a glaze to unify it. Chicken! Maybe I will come back to it later. Now, two things are on my next painting agenda: buildings and no dabbing! And maybe a glaze . . .

Late Summer in the Olive Grove

I started this painting a couple of months ago at least, but because of life and cataract surgery, I didn’t finish it until today. There have been several iterations of it. The subject itself was inspired by van Gogh, and I had thought to try to copy his style of painting, but found that it was far more difficult than I anticipated.

The painting itself is done on an 11×14 canvas panel by Arteza I gessoed over its primed surface, in part because I like the process of preparing a surface for a painting, in part because I never like something already prepared by someone else. From there, the surface was neutralized with a pale underpainting of yellow ochre and burnt sienna, very thinly applied.

One of my primary issues in painting of ay type is depth of field. Easy to do in photography, but not in painting! Thus, this was a goal in this painting. In general, I think I made it, but had to work and re-work the surface of the painting. This is the pleasure of acrylic – once dried, I can paint over what I don’t like.

I used a variety of techniques, one being glazing to dull own areas by using a cool glaze, and to bring others forward using a warm glaze. It worked, but I realized I needed to go further by using a dullish grey-green for the tree on the left, and a brighter, warmer green for the olive tree in the foreground.

This is the first painting – artwork of any kind – I have done since I had my cataract surgeries in July and August. With new lenses, in my eyes and in my glasses, my sight is much better. However, I may still need a newer prescription in a month or so as it was hard to see what I was painting with my new glasses. Time will tell with this.

Altogether, I am pleased with this attempt. First, I like the painting. I am going to let it stew a bit before I apply any varnishes. So, letting it sit is “second” – already I can see areas which are a bit illogical. Finally, the entire process was fun to do. Acrylic, as with all media, has its good and bad qualities or frustrations, or whatever, but the simple doing it is delight. Painting just removes the outside world and transports me into another dimension which is pure bliss.

Tanglewood (Acrylic) – the Final Rendition

Here is the finalized rendition of Tanglewood in acrylic. If you look closely, you will see highlights added to the trees on the left nearer the trunks, and along the trunks in the upper area of the painting. I did a few other things, too, but don’t remember.

It is always interesting to see what people think about a painting or drawing. My husband says this version of Tanglewood looks like Mirkwood, from that famous trilogy, and the darkly spotted foliage in the upper right makes him think of lurking goblins. Success? Hmm. But, the photo I used really did make me think of Mirkwood myself, so there ya go!

I always like to have an extra set of eyes for the “final” viewing of a painting before the “final” edition. I am too involved, so another set, or two or three sets, of eyes is a big help. My sister and my teacher both brought up the need to lighten up the trees on the lower left, and to add dappled light on the trunks both high and low.

No goblins were used in the painting of this painting of imaginary goblins.

Tanglewood – Done or Not?

I think I am done with this painting. A few areas stand out in the current scan that I will attend to tomorrow most likely, but by and large, I think it is finished.

A few things, though, I am thinking about that may need more work. First, the two lowest arching trees look like a bridge because of the highlights on their upper surfaces. The second is, should the tree that is in the right crossing over the lowest arching tree correctly placed?

I find scanning a painting gives me a different viewpoint and what I don’t see when it is right in front of me become more apparent when seen on a monitor as a digital image.

Ccoments?

Tanglewood Underpinnings (III) and Tree Removal

Above is where I currently stand with my acrylic version of Tanglewood. I changed the foreground and began adding colors to the leaves, hoping to indicate dappled light. The foreground was similar in texture and appearance to the leaves, so I applied paint and mushed things around.

In looking at it, I thought this was looking okay, but so boring. Teacher and I both agreed the trees were too symmetrical and their pattern to repetitive. Time to fell some trees!

Home, the painting was scanned, and then sent to LR or some other program to remove the center tree. I didn’t even need to get out my saw! This definitely makes the painting better already.

More tree removal, but not as well done as the first one. The hint of the upright remains, but in that glimmer of a tree comes some new ideas.

First, the removal of just one tree is my preferred one of the two. The second one shows that suggestion of an upright, perhaps more subtle (i.e. obscured by foliage) works, too. More upright trees in the background, hidden by foliage, will add to the visual interest of the painting without creating a yawn-worthy one.

So, this is where I am right now. Not finished, but getting close. If you have an opinion, let me know!

Tanglewood Underpinnings (II)

A paintings is rather like rocket ship – different stages as it takes off.

I did this in yesterday afternoon’s class, trying to focus on both light and dark, warm and cool. Acrylics seem like a rather unforgiving medium insofar as they dry quickly and can have very hard edges. That makes it a bit of a challenge for someone like me who prefers blending and mushing painting. It took me a bit to figure out how to do it.

The fun thing about an art class is the class members and seeing how they paint. Perceptions and styles are all so individualistic. Naturally you prefer this to that, but admiration for an individual’s work doesn’t mean you have to copy them. Add to this, people are so full of information and stories, and this adds to the value of their art – you get to know them.

So, this may be put off for a few days as I have some other things I need to do – and it never hurts to take a break. I hope I don’t start more than one painting at a time, though, as then I will fall into my habit of UFOs lying around, sobbing for attention.

Tanglewood Underpinnings (I)

Back to “Tanglewood” – done already in gouache and watercolor and pastels. Now it is time to do it in acrylic! (If you want to see these, and the photo, click on the tag “Tanglewood”.)

Here I decided to work on setting up values – light and dark, warm and cool. I thought it might be fun to set up areas in complementary colors, but who knows. The whole thing could end up very odd looking, certainly for me and my boring outlook and driveness to reality. I am seeing this as an adventure. The photograph itself is rather dark and murky.

Colors used on Fredrix canvas pad are cobalt blue, Naples yellow, quinacridone magenta, and zinc white. These are applied atop 2 layers of gesso and then a substrate of yellow ochre mixed with Marigold (Holbein’s cadmium orange).

The Forest Track

Today is my fifth painting with acrylics. I felt confident enough to choose a more complex subject, using (of course) another YouTube video. I am learning a lot by following videos, especially ones that suggest brushes and colors, as well as explain techniques.

This painting is done on Fredrix canvas pad paper, 11×14. The canvas, though already gessoed, was gessoed by me. I like that step and feel it is a good way to begin a painting, much like grinding ink prior to doing sumi-e. There is a meditative element to it.

Murray Stewart, whose video I followed, painted his underlying canvas with burnt sienna. I used red ochre and found that the color is just yummy! I live where red soil is known, so it was like seeing an old friend. That said, from there I pretty much followed through the video. About half way, Stewart mentions that the basic work was done, and details were what were needed to finish the painting. I agreed, but watched through to the end.

I have been using titanium white for mixing colors, but decided to use zinc white, as I do with gouache. For gouache, and mixing colors, it is great, but the titanium is a much better choice for mixing colors in acrylics. I am not quite sure where I will use zinc white in acrylics, but I am sure I can do some research.

This video presented me with a lot of material I enjoyed learning: making sun beams, using a fan brush for foliage, dark against light and light and against light effects. More, too, simply by doing. While painting, I found that dipping my brush in water prior to picking up paint made for better painting. The brush wasn’t sopping, and the water in the brush gave enough moisture to allow pure pigment to be spread around. I also found that this helped with glazes.

So, here is Stewart’s video – he did a good job, and he is pretty darn funny, too!