Abstraction is a key part of how you paint or draw anything. It is seeing completely with the eye, and not allowing the brain to contextualize what we are seeing. But turning off the brain is no small task! I’ve found that painting with acrylics has given me a bit of insight into abstraction for two reasons: when painting with acrylics, each layer dries fast–so I can practice seeing (and painting) abstractly over and over again in a fairly short period of time. Also, the paints I work with are opaque, so gesture comes more strongly to the fore in any work because it is much less about blending than about making successive layers work together.
As I’ve confessed before, I’m usually a slowpoke ditherer when it comes to painting, largely due to the intimidation factor. When painting with acrylics, I found my speed because those paints dry fast! But that means that as soon as they do, I can go in again. I really enjoy the fact if I try to paint a figure or aspect of the landscape too literally, I can wait a few minutes, assess what I’ve done, and experiment more abstractly right then and there.
Many acrylic paints dry opaque unless you add a medium to make them more transparent. This solidity or opacity has proven helpful to a lot of artists who want to build up their abstraction chops. That’s because you can see your gesture completely in every stroke you put on the canvas, as opposed to brushwork that layers on in a more transparent way. Exploring gesture in an acrylic painting is especially exciting if I use a palette knife because the entire surface of the painting is looser, more textural, and all about big shapes and color.
In Abstract Exploration in Acrylic Painting with Jo Toye, you see abstraction and acrylic painting techniques come together in compelling ways. You will learn to explore the aspects of art that are the most interesting to you and merge them to create appealing compositions and beautifully painted surfaces that can be appreciated abstractly and on the basis of representation. Enjoy!