Thursday, January 14, 2016

Acrylic again, step by step

One of my goals for 2016 is to become familiar with acrylic paint. Why, I'm now asking myself?
I think it is because I have a lot of acrylic paint:  Utrecht, Liquitex, Daniel Smith, M. Graham & Company, Golden and Golden Open and Chroma Atelier Interactive. Am I going to use them or are they just taking up space in my small studio?

I started the year playing with Utrecht acrylics then Daniel Smith and Golden, trying to paint a subject I know well - a still life. I didn't like the way the paint felt when I applied it to the surface and it dried too fast. So I moved on to Open Acrylics which were a little better but I continued to struggle and whine about hard edges and difficulty in mixing color. I watched an online video by an artist using Interactive acrylics and my hope was renewed so I started with a 7x 5 Gessobord® and changed the subject to landscape. Horrible, then OK, then too controlled, painted over it, tried to pull paint back off, changed colors, wiped the whole thing off and began again. Over and over, all day long.

Since the first of the year I've been pushing acrylic paint around on a couple gessoed panels. There has been an abundance of conversation in my studio between me, myself and I. Mostly whining. I've eaten my comfort food (spaghetti) twice, chocolate covered pretzels and homemade chocolate covered marshmallows many times.

Then I changed my approach from more paint to less paint. I started with a 6x6 white Gessobord®, sprayed it with water and started applying strokes of thin color. I was pleased with the interaction between the paint and the water but I can't see myself doing this time consuming glazing to finally achieve what I could accomplish more quickly in another medium.

Today I went back to the beginning and got out my big jars of Utrecht Acyrlics. Before I give these paints away, I may as well use some (again). Here is the story, step by step in photos up to the point where I actually got a little bit enthused and forgot to take photos.

Fire Hydrant, acrylic on canvas, 10 x8 inches
When I began painting in oil with Master Qiang Huang, he encouraged me to keep my first paintings to see, after a period of time, how far I had come. He was right and I'll keep this one for the same purpose.


  1. Acrylics never became my friends. They tricked me in value when they dried, edges were not cooperative, too many products to learn to manipulate the paint and they mold. I put them in a small tackle box so as not to keep reaching for the paint tube. It would have been fine if continued to use them. Unfortunately, I injured myself and they sat too long. I found them perplexing. Worked with them about a year and a half in between pastel (my primary medium).

    1. Christine, I so appreciate you taking time to comment on acrylics. I, too, find them perplexing and downright unfriendly. I'll keep at them until March and then decide whether to continue. I certainly have a new-found admiration for artists who have found ways to paint with them for results that don't scream ACRYLICS!

  2. I commend your trial of a new medium. I have been receiving your blog emails for a year when I first tried pastels (oil is my medium), due to arm surgery. I have found pastels easier and more rewarding than acrylics. Pastels are not my medium of choice, but they are quick, colorful, and rewarding. Acrylics are in my studio only for quick toning of a canvas. I found the same problems Christine mentioned. I learned to tailor clothing and home interior decor when I was 10. I owned a commercial shop before starting to paint. I can use a the tools necessary to make anything beautifully using fabric. For the life of me, I cannot master crochet or kniting. I have tried several times since childhood. I did learn to DO IT. It took too much time, nor did it hold my interest. My lesson, when it's not my thing…..move on to others rewarding. Your work is exceptional, even this posted acrylic. Good luck, Charlene

    1. Thank you Charlene! Fortunately, this morning I am a little more hopeful about acrylic. I'll post my latest effort today. I guess the bottom line is, I have yet to come across acrylic paintings that I love (except for the non-objective work of Kristi Galindo Dyson). I need examples of abstracted landscapes in acrylic with soft passages of color and nuanced textures,value and color. If anyone knows names of artists (dead or alive) who have achieved this in acrylic, please let me know!