This is a little fun piece. When I began playing with acrylic a few weeks ago I was once again practicing colour mixing by making swatches of colour. (I can’t believe how many fun and creative works I’ve done that began as simple colour swatches. I think it is because when I’m doing colour swatches I’m only concerned with the colour and my actual brush stroke is completely spontaneous. Then when I look at the shape of the swatch I start to see all sorts of possibilities in the shape.) Anyway, this was some acrylic colours splashed on a paper. My wife, Susan, as she often does takes these little practices or knock offs and goes over them with marker. Many of them are brought to a new life by her application of ink. This was one that she turned into a real work of art with a story of it’s own.
Acrylic & Ink
14″ X 2″
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Someone asked what is wood shedding. It’s actually a term from the jazz world where players retreated to some space and just worked non stop on their playing. It’s a period of intense learning. I’ve heard that the great Charlie Parker in one of his first forays into playing with a band was so embarrassed when the band kept changing keys. He had learned everything in just one key. Anyway, he turned his frustration into motivation to take a year or so to just practice and learn all about his instrument. He emerged a much more confident and fully formed musician. My recent emphasis has been similar though not as prolonged. For the last 3 weeks I’ve put the watercolour away and just practiced everything I could think of in acrylic. I’m now starting to understand it more and I feel the beginning of a feeling of confidence.
This image is another of Yarnell’s atmospheric paintings. I love that misty background. It’s too early to say the word but I could see how this acrylic thing could become ‘fun’ down the road. Confidence grows by having more techniques under my belt and being able to think more concretely about how to proceed with a painting.
I’ve been reading one of Jerry Yarnell’s many books. He is a TV & DVD teacher who really simplifies acrylic painting to fit into his TV episodes but he has a lot of interesting techniques. This is a version of one of his images. It’s done in an opaque style. Applying the acrylic paint was fairly enjoyable this time and by the second day of working on it I was starting to feel comfortable. I think of everything I’ve read in the last week the thought that stays with me is not to think of acrylic as a form of watercolour. It’s a different medium and requires different thinking. I realize that when I have tried acrylic in the past I kept looking to match the wonderful blending of colours, wet in wet, that you get with watercolour. Acrylic isn’t as much fun at least not for me , yet. Another very interesting thing I’m experiencing is using the same colour theory I’ve worked on in watercolour and transposing it to opaque acrylic. Colour mixing is a different feel when working with acrylic.
This portrait of King Tut’s burial mask is again a sample for the people taking Basic Drawing Skills. I really enjoy the graphic nature of this portrait with all the details of the head dress framing the face and leading the eye into the subject. There are a number of changes I made to the reference material in order to make it a better work of art. I’ve downplayed the value of the entire image around the edges. This serves to lead the eye right into the picture. I’ve also changed the value of the reference material to create the greatest contrast (centre of interest) at the eyes. Again this is done to draw the eye of the viewer to the eyes which are the most important area. Also in this portrait they aren’t shadows as much as they are reflections since the original is made of gold. This is noted particularly with the dark bands reflected onto the cheeks. This image is a suggestion for one way to approach the shading.
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I’m working my way through some books on acrylic painting. I’ve come across an artist William Hook who I was unfamiliar with but I find his opaque approach to acrylic to be very interesting. This image is one of his that I just love. I’m trying to work out how he painted it. This is just the barest approximation of his painting. Coming from watercolour which, for me, has the most enjoyable process for applying paint, I’m struggling with the plastic feeling of the acrylic. But as I step back I can just see some of the potential that this image holds. I believe that if I just commit to doing it that I’ll be able to reach a level of satisfaction and possibly even fun with opaque acrylic. I do notice how important the areas of neutral tone are to make the colourful sections really stand out.
This image was just the result of playing around. I’m going to concentrate for a while on painting with casein and in this case I was just trying to explore mixing darks with a palette of some green, ultramarine blue, yellow, cobalt blue and cerulean blue. I would make a mix of some combination trying to make it as rich a dark as possible then I made swatches of the various mixtures on paper. When I looked, one of these swatches looked a bit like a person so I then played with that idea and turned each of them into a person. The purer, brighter colours that I painted between these darks just started to sing when surrounded by the neutrals. It was a lot of fun and the first time I’ve done anything solely with casein. I usually use it as an addiction to my acrylic paintings. The title refers to a much earlier post with a painting called The Blob People.
14″ x 4″
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This studio version of an earlier post is a painting that came together very quickly. I like the strength of the blue orange colours. I was also very pleased with the mountains. I like the way they definitely stay in the background but they do have a nice feel to them as objects in their own right.
18″ X 24″
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On the way home from our Christmas trip to Kelowna we passed these cottages just south of Sicamous. I loved the orange trees against the winter landscape. It’s also another chance to do reflections in watercolour which is where the medium is at it’s best. I like the casualness of this piece.
12″ x 8″
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An idea I heard at the Stephen Quiller workshop I took 2 summers ago was, ‘make the painting about what it’s about’. To me, this meant, identify the main idea of the painting and emphasize that. A few days ago I posted an image, Cascade. When I lived with that image I came to realize that the main idea was the interplay of the colourful tree and the more muted background. A lot of the original image, particularly the left side of the painting wasn’t really adding anything to the painting. This cropped version of that image is, I feel, much stronger.
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