Going Inside & Staying There

11 Feb 2014

Reading Chair, Sims House by Ronald Lewis, 1996, acrylic, 18 x 14. Courtesy Bryant Galleries, Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Reading Chair, Sims House
by Ronald Lewis, 1996, acrylic, 18 x 14.
Courtesy Bryant Galleries, Jackson, Mississippi,
and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Paintings of the sheer peaks of the Alps or serpentine glimmer of the Hudson River showcase the awe-inspiring characteristics of the natural world. But there’s something equally compelling about depictions of interior spaces. Think of how bleak and bereft Edward Hopper’s bedroom scenes are, or the sense of anticipation, warmth, and intimacy in Johannes Vermeer’s paintings of women’s domesticity. The evocations may be subtle, but they’re undeniable. 

Alabama artist Ronald Lewis spent years painting outdoors with oils, but changed his process twofold when he switched to acrylic painting and moved indoors to paint scenes in historic homes, museums, and public spaces. Painting indoors gives Lewis the opportunity to experiment with lighting and the spatial arrangements of rooms, furnishings, and reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors. He's also able to do studies at different times of the day with little advance preparation needed.

Using acrylics in the home-studio is also especially ideal for Lewis because there aren't any strong fumes to contend with and clean-up can happen at any sink in the house as the pigments don't stain surfaces but wash easily away with water. And of course because acrylic paints dry much quicker than oils, an artist can create depth and a sense of volume by adding successive layers of color to the painting canvas with only minutes in between for drying time, which is ideal if you are in a room that serves multiple purposes or a place you can't linger.

For more on understanding how acrylics might be ideal for you during this time of year if you are painting in your home or experimenting in your studio, consider Understanding Acrylics with Brent Laycock. If you are painting for the first time and looking for reliable, experienced painting instruction or are a more advanced painter who has an interest in the range of approaches to acrylic painting, from a loose representational style to one that is more detailed, this is the ideal resource for you. Enjoy!


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John Cogan wrote
on 19 Apr 2010 8:07 AM

This is a good introduction to painting in acrylic.  Thanks for sharing.

on 20 Apr 2010 10:20 AM

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