I really want to start pushing my techniques a bit, if only to try new things and learn something.
I recently bought a starter pack of Golden Open Acrylics in ‘Modern’ colours. They’ve been sitting in their packet for a while, so I thought it was time to give them a try.
I sketched out a face onto watercolour paper using water soluble pencils. As this was just an experiment I didn’t take too much time checking the balance etc – and actually this is an error I usually make, to dive straight in and think it doesn’t matter because it’s a throw away piece. One day I’ll end up regretting it!
I then did an under painting using the open acrylics. As there’s no black in the set I had, I mixed blue, green and red for a dark colour.
The red colour is mainly from the water soluble pencil.
I then used red, yellow, white and the remainder of the dark mix to paint in the flesh tones. I really liked the texture of the Golden Open Acrylics – so smooth and creamy. An utter joy to work with. I realised as I painted that working on watercolour paper probably defeated the purpose a bit as it grabs the colour quite easily. Still, the paint didn’t feel so ‘sticky’ when being blended as my normal paints do. I decided to leave him a bit rough, like this:
The next day I was inspired to push things a bit further after reading this post by the wonderful artist Gillian Lee Smith, where she talks about oilsticks. I remembered I had some Shiva Paintsticks that I’ve hardly used, so I found them and started to go over the acrylic portrait. Now, Gillian gets a lovely atmospheric texture but I’m guessing a combination of the relatively smooth watercolour paper, the thin acrylic layers and my own style meant my layer of oilsticks just smoothed things out. I soon lost my detail and was puzzling how to get it back as the sticks are quite large and not precise, and I think I’m right in thinking you shouldn’t use acrylic over oil.
I then remembered I’d bought some water soluble oil paints, so I rummaged around for those and used the black, green and white to touch up.
This was the result:
I am quite pleased with the result, given that it was a quick work (probably under two hours in total) and that I wasn’t thinking too hard about it.
What did I learn? A couple of things:
1) I’m now motivated to explore the Open Acrylics a bit more. Next time, I’ll use primed canvas board or acrylic paper and see whether this combination will be the answer to my blending frustrations.
2) I really loved the hands-on technique of the paintsticks. I liked the control of laying down a solid colour and blending with my fingers, although this was much harder in smaller areas and I lost detail.
3) The water mixable oils over the paintsticks was a joy. I loved the way they went down on the paper and blended. I’m definitely going to explore this paint more, particularly as it’s available locally.
4) I need to work on pieces for longer if I want to develop the atmosphere and style that I admire in other artists’ works. I stop before a piece is even done to a basic level, let alone allowing it to develop.
5) Painting is fun!