Saturday, September 20, 2008

Acrylics as Watercolors

Two Sunflowers paintings with their details. These were done as watercolors, using very thin layers of acrylic paint, on watercolor paper. The colors were actually paler and thinner than what I generally use for my watercolors, but to avoid shine, I kept the acrylic layers very watery. This is a new technique for me, so I kept some running notes, which I'm copying here for anyone interested in trying this technique. It's pretty fussy, for when you are in the mood to do details, not splashy.

- Have two pieces going to allow each to dry while working on the other.
- A butcher's tray works great for mixing and for cleanup.
- Just use an old bristle brush to scrub the old paint away and mop up with paper towels.
- Small amounts of paint, less waste, they will dry up, or crumble.
- Don't go "acrylic", keep glazes very thin, or it will shine.
- Spray paints often, keep brushes rinsed.
- Drying time between layers decreases as more "sealing" is added, more layers.
- Watch out for the little "curds" or flakes of dryed paint, they seal into the layer.
- Don't use watercolor pencil (see black detail) for original drawing, since it doesn't quite dilute.
- Use graphite pencil for the original detailed and careful drawing.
- For the opaque black, count on at least seven layers.
- Dry completely between layers, or it'll pick up.
- After several layers, the acrylics stop acting like watercolors (blending on the paper), then you switch to a poster paint or graphics mentality. The paper gets "sealed up" I think.
- Incised lines should be done early on, during the wet paper stage of the first layers.
- You can use blending and lifting techniques only during the first several layers. So paint carefully in the first stages, blotting and blending as you normally would.

And that's my notes for these two paintings. I like the technique, came across it used in an acrylics book, paintings done by Barbara Buer, just exquisite things. More about this process as I do more paintings with it.


Christie said...

Wow! These sunflowers are spectacular! Thanks for sharing your notes, they are much appreciated.

Lisa Reed said...

I am a sucker for a sunflower! Yours are gorgeous! Thanks for the lesson, too.

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