Building an Acrylic Painting with Layered Washes

 

Guest instructor, Zara, introduced her favourite method of developing an acrylic painting by using many washes to slowly develop the picture. She said that this meditative process left a painting which was both translucent and in a illustrative painterly way. 

She used two subjects to paint at the same time  so one could dry while the other was being repainted. Before starting, she mixed a small amount of acrylic paint colour in a little water. She had several pots of these mixed colours which she cautioned us to mix well to get rid of the lumps. They had the consistency of creamy milk.. These little containers of watery colours were her paint pallet.

 She then drew the object (apples) and sky landscape first with a light coloured watercolour pencil. She then used a flat brush to paint in the apples and sky with a light colour and let dry. She began to layer the colours to develop each of  the pictures. She followed the shape of the apple with her brush strokes. She warned us that this type of painting could require 20 or more layers so would require patience. She only had time to paint about 3 layers with each picture and said that they would require at least another dozen layers each. 

We began to see the potential after only three layers with some lovely luminous colours being produced. Many of the members used the rest of the afternoon practising this intriguing method of painting with acrylics.

 

 

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The use of a flat brush

Brushes come in various shapes including round, filbert (a semi round top and great for portraiture), fan, angular, and the flat brush. Each has it’s own uses.

Caroline Marsland demonstrated the use of the flat brush at class. These brushes  come in all sizes. She chose a medium and medium small to show how one could complete a landscape painting using this one shaped brush. A flat brush can make thick consistent strokes or when it is turned on it’s side, will give you fine lines. It is great for blocking in solid shapes of color such as in the painting of the building shown in her demo. She also showed it’s use in blocking in color for trees.

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Painting in the style of Monet

Caroline Marsland lead us in a demo of a Monet painting. She pointed out the Impressionists of whom he was most famous, were into seeing colours in their environment. `Monet painted with thick oil paint later stumbling with thick paint when his eyesite become poor. He used small strokes that blend often giving a feeling of a haze. His strokes for the sky were often verticle and the water horizontal. He often used a ground color of blue or cream. He painted at the lighter end of the light-dark scale.

`his brief biography is as follows:

Claude Monet, in full Oscar-Claude Monet, (born November 14, 1840, Paris, France—died December 5, 1926, Giverny), French painter who was the initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. In his mature works, Monet developed his method of producing repeated studies of the same motif in series, changing canvases with the light or as his interest shifted. These series were frequently exhibited in groups—for example, his images of haystacks (1890/91) and the Rouen cathedral (1894). At his home in Giverny, Monet created the water-lily pond that served as inspiration for his last series of paintings. His popularity soared in the second half of the 20th century, when his works traveled the world in museum exhibitions that attracted record-breaking crowds and marketed popular commercial items featuring imagery from his art.

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The Zorn Pallet

On April 24th instructor Lucy Parker gave a brief talk to the Wednesday Dupont class  on the zorn pallet used by many artists She described the colours used as yellow ocher, cad red medium. black and white. She said that in using oils, the dark colors should be laid down first. This was a brief outline of her colour mix. 

 

It is described as follows on line:

“The Zorn palette refers to a palette of colors attributed to the great Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (18 February 1860 – 22 August 1920). It consists of just 4 colors being yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white. Cadmium red light is commonly used in place of vermilion by modern day artists.

Whilst this may seem like an extremely limited range of colors, Zorn demonstrated through his paintings just what is possible with such a limited palette. Here are some of his paintings which appear to utilize the Zorn palette:”

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Using a Grid for Complex Subjects

Lucy was our instructor for the Wednesday class and took us through the use of grids when drawing accurately. Anytime you want to draw something that requires accuracy such as a portrait, pet, vehicle, a complex still life, etc. we may wish to use the grid method.

It starts with drawing a grid of squares over the photo of the work you wish to copy. These squares can be numbered and lettered  to make it easier to follow when drawing. Next you then draw the same numbers and letters  of squares onto your drawing paper/canvas. You then

carefully copy each square from the grided photo copy onto your painting/drawing surface. Be careful at the corner of the eye and bridge of the nose as these can be tricky.

If you don’t wish to mark the photo you can always copy the grid onto clear acetate and layer it onto the photo. There are also various grid drawing assistance apps on your tablet which you can download and layover the photo to be copied.

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Pen and Wash demonstration by Caroline Marsland 3rd April 2019

When selecting a paper for pen and wash, a smooth hot pressed watercolour paper is best, as rough watercolour paper catches on the pen.

Caroline chose to work with India ink, you can also use Quink.  She doesn’t recommend hobby craft ink, as it can wash off when your wash is applied, whereas the India ink is permanent.

She prefers to work with a mapping nib rather then a drawing nib, which can be a bit scratchy. The joy of using a dip pen is in the good expression you can get from the different thicknesses of strokes.

First, think about what part of your painting is going to be pen and what part wash. You may want it mainly one or the other.

This is the photograph Caroline was working from ( it’s the steps up to Whitby Abbey)

Caroline chose to start with  the pen, as this gives the most freedom of expression. You should look for where the light is coming from and then make your lighter strokes on the side that is getting the light.

She started with the lamppost as this was central and then worked out from that. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfectly drawn; it is your impression of the scene.  If you prefer, you can draw it out lightly in pencil first.  Dip pens are good for squiggles and shapes to suggest bushes. You shouldn’t try to put in every line. A few details are all that’s needed and the viewer fills in the rest.  If you have an accident and get a splurge on the page, this can be covered using white gouache.

The distant subjects should be drawn lighter with the heaviest lines saved for the foreground. Caroline used a rigger for the railings to make them stand out. Random lines are always more interesting to look at than rigid straight lines.

Check that your ink is dry before starting on the washes. Bear in mind that warm colours make a subject come forward, while cool colours will make it recede. Put in your colours  paying attention to the shadows, and not being too exact with the paint, it’s ok if it bleeds a little. You don’t want it to look like painting by numbers!

Caroline used ultra marine and sienna to get the lovely dark shade for the windows. The more distant the lighter your  paint should be , so the stairs are paler at the most distant part which helps with the perspective.

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Charcoal portraits

The best charcoal to use is Windsor and Newton as it has good deep coverage and is just lovely to use.

Always break the stick into a smaller piece and then you can use it side on or using a corner.

You should use a rough paper with a tooth to give the charcoal something to catch on. Pastel paper is ideal for this.

When tackling a charcoal portrait, you should first decide which method you want to use. Caroline demonstrated both using shadows to define your shapes, and later drafting out your image using the charcoal a bit like a pencil.

She started by covering the entire paper with charcoal lightly, then she put in all the large shadow areas like the eye sockets and under the nose and the outline of the head.

Next she used a rubber  to erase all the lighter areas of the face and eyes and put in all the highlights. She frequently rubbed it on a piece of sand paper to clean the rubber. She used careful observation to ensure that the facial features were correctly sized and positioned, taking note of measurements of spaces between nose and mouth, eyes and nose etc. It’s just a matter of making continual adjustments until you are happy with the end result . Remember you can rub out and replace the charcoal as often as needed. You may prefer to use a charcoal pencil for the finer details, Caroline herself just used the corner of the stick of charcoal. You can also use your fingers to blend it.

The little girl was done using the drawing technique with the corner of the charcoal and then blending with the fingers.

 

 

 

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Watercolour Painting of Patterned Fabric

Caroline Marsland took the Wednesday Dupont class through how to watercolour paint a patterned fabric on paper. We were not painting the fabric. 

She started off by lightly drawing the general shape of the fabric lightly with pencil. She then painted in the the colour of the fabric first with all of the shadows that are in it. She layered the shadows for best effect and used tissue paper over the wet parts to show texture at times She worked away from the centre with a wet in wet technique. For the really white areas, she suggested using masking fluid. You need to exaggerate the shadows because when you put the pattern in, they will disappear somewhat. 

Once the background is dry, she said to very lightly draw in the pattern first with complex patterns  but with a simple pattern, she just paints the patters in.

Some suggestions: Remember to sqint, She painted from light to dark to light as needed. 

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Painting with Charcoal and Watercolour

On November 14th instructor Caroline Marsland did a demo on painting using charcoal and watercolour. This was done on 140 pound watercolour paper. This medium is good for moody pictures. There is usually a tinge of charcoal in the watercolour leaving a shaded picture. She used a piece of charcoal but using a charcoal pencil is fine.

Caroline started off with a drawing of the shadows in dark charcoal. She used a loose dribble runny wash for the sky. In order for this not to run into the foreground, she turned the painting upside down to prevent this while painting. Once it is dry, she overpainted it to give it a darker, more dramatic look. The foreground was painted with watercolour which blended into the black charcoal shadows.

The overall effect was a quick moody picture of moody stones.

 

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