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I have no clue

I just started taking a painting class at the Art Students League in order to learn how to use acrylic paints. But I have no clue what I’m doing.

The instructor, Fran O’Neill has been very helpful, as have the other artists in the class. However, it all comes down to me: what do I want to paint and how do I get rid of all my really useful watercolor habits which are counterproductive with acrylic? It’s very frustrating.

No matter how many times I tell myself I can paint over something if I don’t like it, I still end up trying to plan the painting so those kind of mistakes don’t happen (’cause they’re hard to fix in watercolor).  Even though I know I should do the reverse with acrylic, it’s hard not to automatically start with the light colors and gradually move to the darker ones. I still unconsciously think of white as the color of the paper to be reserved and not painted, rather than something I paint on top of everything else.  I’m tearing my hair out (metaphorically speaking).

I won’t show you my very first attempts, because that would be too embarrassing. However, here are three quick studies in acrylic and the watercolor study they are based on.

First, the watercolor study on Yupo.


Space      4.5 x 6      $300

Next, my first acrylic on Yupo.  I simply put down some acrylic paint and let it swirl around until I saw something. The only difference is: this is permanent.  I can’t wash it off, as I can with the watercolor.

Happy Hippo

Happy Hippo     6 x 4.25     $300

And my next acrylic on Yupo: more of the same, except there’s really only one color (not counting the tiny bit of faded green left over from when I washed off the earlier watercolor painting).


Monster     6 x 4.25     $300

But the problem was, they looked too much like watercolor.  I wasn’t really doing anything very different.

Fast forward to something different:


Halloween     4.5 x 6     $300

Since I put the paint down with much less water, it doesn’t swim around so much.  I also experimented with scraping the paint while it was still wet with a palette knife ( I didn’t have the lift out tool I read about in the how-to book I bought). Actually, the man who runs the store at the Art Students League said to forget about the lift out tool; he just cuts up an old credit card and uses that. (It’s wonderful to have knowledgable people around.)

Well, to be continued. We’ll see what this week brings. I still really have no clue.

Posted by ruthhurd on October 16, 2015

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