Saturday, July 28, 2012

Painting with Acrylics - Layering

I spent a lot of time painting with watercolors and decided to switch to acrylic paints.  The paints are vastly different, with different properties, qualities and as I say, "minds of their own".  
Before my long stint with watercolor, I would have said that acrylics were my favorite medium.  But, after spending so much time with watercolors, I am not so sure!
They are vastly different, in consistency, texture, staining quality, drying time and more.  I think it is just a matter of getting used to the ways of each and finding what paints fit my current mood.
Both acrylics and watercolors can use layering as a technique for a rich final product.  Here are the steps I used to create some summer themed acrylic paintings.
I used 3 inch square canvases.  I wanted to do a bunch of them themed with summer images, and I used shells as my focus.  I painted each canvas with a background color of red, then when the red was dry, I layered on some oranges and yellows to create a gradient.  When that layer was dry, I thought the colors were too harsh -- so I sponged some white paint over the top, rather willy-nilly.  This left the background with spots of dark color, light color, in-between and white. I like the mottled look and think it took the background from being harsh to being subtle. When the background was completely dry, I sketched some very primitive shell shapes and then filled them in with a combination of dark blue and light blue paint.  I made sure to mix some of the paint well, but also leave some striations of the dark and light paint.  Before the image dried, I took the back of the paintbrush (that had a rounded tip) and dragged it through the damp paint to create some more shapes.  This gave my primitive shapes a little more oomph.  Then, I had to do the hardest part and set it aside to dry.  This was so hard for me because I felt so interested in painting at this point and I kept thinking of things I wanted to do.  Being patient is not my strong suit.
When dry, I added some darker blue spots to give the shells a bit of depth. I didn't give it too much thought, I just dabbed some color in the outer edges of the shells.  Then, I added a bit of a cast shadow on lower left hand side of the shells.  (I am learning to use cast shadows, so bear with me on these).  After the shadows were added, I realized that the shells needed some other color besides the blues.  So, I added some yellow-orange, but on areas to break up the blue and add focus to the different shells.  I wanted to emphasize the sand dollar ovals and the nautilus's spiral...  Then, I let this dry.
When I came back to my paintings the next day, I found that I didn't like the blues with the red background.  Being acrylic paint, I was able to just paint over the blues with a teal/turquoise color and change the look of my paintings easily.  I added the teals but still left some of the blue to peek out.  I feel like it gives the paintings some depth.  Then, I mixed some light teal and added some highlights.  I added some dots on the sea urchin, some swirls on the nautilus and texture on the other shells.  I let this dry.  Then, I realized that I needed even more highlights, a lighter shade of teal - even lighter than the light teal that I used, so I mixed just a pin head amount of teal with a white and got the highlight color.  This really made the piece pop.
I painted the edges of the canvas black, since I didn't want to frame my paintings and then signed them LALA.  I put them in the tiniest of easels and was quite pleased.  Each one can stand on it's own or be used as a set. I prefer them as a bunch.
Basic shell

Sea Urchin - this is Jon's favorite.

Nautilus - I like this spiral

Ashley's Sand Dollar



Serenity you

1 comment:

Laurels said...

These are beautiful!