Struggling with Acrylics

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jlward wrote
on 17 Oct 2008 4:04 PM

 

Hey everyone,

I'm glad to see a group devoted to acrylics.  I really love this medium, but it frustrates me almost as much as it delights me.  I struggle with keeping the paint workable. 

I've been using heavy body acrylics.  I've gone back and forth between painting opaquely or using watercolor techniques.  I believe, that for me, the answer lies in the watercolor techniques.  It resolves a lot of my issues: keeping the paint from drying, allowing wet-in-wet techniques, and I don't have to battle with the paint 'feeling' too stiff.

Here are a couple of examples of my work in acrylics. 

The first illustration was an experimental piece done using watercolor techniques.  I feel that it is much more successful.  It was done for a spot illustration for a mystery.  I apologize for the subject matter.  I realize that this isn't the normal type of paintings that displayed here.

The second one was done on rough watercolor paper and was done when I was still trying to paint opaquely.  I also used colored pencils for the fine lines in this piece.  It was done as an illustration for a science ficiton magazine.

Thanks for looking.

From the Badlands Illustration

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CelesteV3 wrote
on 18 Oct 2008 3:30 AM

John, welcome and thanks for starting a new discussion for our new group.  I'm sorry I haven't been able to do so as I've been preparing for a huge show I have today. 

I'm going to hit quickly on some techniques/processes that I've incorporated through my experimenting that you may find helpful.  Then later, I'll try to post separate threads addressing them in more detail.

Anyway, first let me say that these don't look like you struggled - which is a good sign, right? Have you tried Golden's Fluid Acrylics?  If not, go get some.  You will love them as they're like cream and they make extraordinary glazes and washes.  It's really cool to use with wet in wet techniques too. 

Also, use Golden's glazing medium, I've used Liquitex glazing medium, but like Golden's better. It does seem to slow the drying a bit, even though it's not a retarder (which I hate that stuff).    Use it with fluid acrylics and heavy bodied.

For me, the support I paint on is one of the most important things.  Some that I like are Ampersand's Aquabord, Watercolor Canvas (very fine weave), MDF prepped w/gesso, MDF prepped w/gesso & fine pumice gel medium, illustration board prepped with gesso to name a few.  If I use canvas now, I like to prep it with fine pumice gel medium first - gives it a toothy surface I like.

I can tell when I've taken the life out of a painting and have discovered that working with transparent pigments mostly early on allows the light to travel through the layers of glazes and really sparkle.  I also like to select colors that are labeled "single pigments". Try to save opaque for final areas or where you want light to stop.

Finally, experiment with using very little paint on your brush and very softly dragging it across the canvas when your working more thickly.

Now many folks are thrilled with Golden's new "Open" line and while I haven't used them myself, lots of people appreciate the longer open time...you might too!

 

Celeste Vaught

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on 18 Oct 2008 5:42 AM

Celeste - great post!  Thank you for taking the time to set up this group and provide such useful info.

 

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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jlward wrote
on 18 Oct 2008 6:13 AM

Hi Celeste,

Thank you for your compliments about my work.  Believe me, I struggle.  I'm showing you the two most successful paintings.  I have probably over a hundred outright failures or ones that I've abandoned half way through because I was just tired of banging my head against the wall.

I've actually tried the glazing medium, and when I can get it to work it's a beautiful thing.  I love how it is able to give your paintings such depth.  I would very much like to really master it; however, it's one of the items that I've put up on the shelf until I am more familiar with acrylics overall.  The reason is because too many times, I've encountered situations where the paint film becomes... I'm not sure what the word is, but it'll bubble up from the rest of the film.  A few times, I've tried to 'fix' the painting by tearing into that bubble and painting over the resulting hole.  I've never been able to restore the edges of the hole when that happens.  By restore the edges, I mean fix them so that you can't tell that something has gone dramatically wrong in that area. 

By reading the back of the Glazing Liquid bottle, I figured out that I am experiencing this problem because I am adding too much of the AGL.  I want to get back to using the stuff, but I'm trying to limit my failures at the moment.  I don't want to hate the medium.  So, I'm trying to set myself up for success. 

I do agree that the support is probably one of the most important factors determining success or failure.  I've found that if I gesso properly, it will stop the paper from sucking up the water instantly.  That being said, I've taken to using either watercolor paper without gesso.  It still lets the water stand on the paper for a bit.  You pretty much have to gesso illustration board because that stuff is like a sponge.  Gessoed canvas is very kind to Acrylic Glazing Liquid.

I've also used Strathmore's new acrylic paper.  It's a very toothy on one side and a bit smoother (although still pretty rough) on the other.  I prefer hot press, but I do love this paper.  It's very thick and it just feels like it can handle ALOT of abuse.  Here is a link to what I'm talking about: Strathmore Acrylic Pads.  I've also found individual sheets (18" x 24") at my local Michael's.

Yes, I have tried Golden fluids, but I think I prefer Liquitex Soft Body paints.  I haven't tried them yet, but I know from working with both Golden and Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics that Liquitex tends to be more opaque.  I prefer Liquitex's bottle for the Soft Body paints to Golden's Fluids.  I know... choosing a brand of paint because of the container?  I didn't say it made sense.  Also, they are a lot cheaper because Liquitex is giving you two ounces for around a dollar less compared to Golden's one ounce bottles.

Thanks again for the group.  I think this is a great place and look forward to many more discussions.

John

 

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vivien5 wrote
on 19 Oct 2008 1:19 PM

Tina Mammoser on her blog The Cycling Artist did a very very good post on the way she does her glazes.

 

Her work is all about subtle glazes and she doesn't use any medium at all, just water - it might be worth you taking a look at her work and method and see if there is anything there of benefit to you?  She did a video so you can see her in action.

 

Hope it's helpful

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CelesteV3 wrote
on 19 Oct 2008 3:45 PM

Thanks for that post Vivien! Yes, Tina's glazing demo was super and she does wonderful glazes.

John - the secret I've learned (the hard way) is be patient and let those glazes dry thoroughly before working into them.  Use a hairdryer if you like to hurry it along.

Celeste Vaught

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jlward wrote
on 20 Oct 2008 4:21 PM

Hi Vivien, I haven't had a chance to check out the blog yet, but I certainly will.  Thank you for the tip.

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wrote
on 23 Oct 2008 4:45 PM

Hi John,

I like both of these paintings - very good job.  I paint very chunky with acrylics, after painting W/C for 12 years, I really enjoy the palette knife technique and the depth and dimension I can get.  As I mentioned in another reply, I use the Gloss Super Heavy Gel which decreases the dry time and makes them behave more like oils.

Keep up the good work - I think both of your techniques are excellent!

Secor

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autumn adams wrote
on 7 Jun 2012 9:44 PM

Hi John,

I really like YUPO which is a "plastic paper" used in printing.  It is meant to be used with watermedia.  It doesn't absorb any liquid so acrylics drying too fast isn't a problem.  It doesn't have any tooth and you don't have to gesso it first.

Autumn Adams

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Jean Chang wrote
on 7 Jul 2012 10:10 AM

Hello,

I am new to this forum, so please forgive me if I'm stumbling my way around.  I am a watercolorist, and just recently began with acrylics, which I have a love-hate relationship with for all the same reasons that John mentioned.

I don't see where the two paintings you posted are located.  Do you have a link?

Also, I see that Vivien referenced Tina Mammoser's post on how she does glazes.  I would love to see this, but where is it?  Do you have a link?  I tried Googling her name, and found some articles, but nothing about her method.

I have a starter set of Golden open acrylics, which I like a lot, because I do like to blend a lot.  I also just got some of the Golden fluid acrylics, and I love the creamy consistency, but the dry too fast for me.  I've tried adding some of the Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid (gloss), and that does help.  Here is my first attempt--I have used both the opens and the liquids here.  The flash on the camera makes it look washed out in the center.  It is NOT finished, and needs more work, but here is the work in progress:

I'll be glued to this forum--it looks like there is lots of friendly help here!

Jean

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Hoyeru wrote
on 7 Jul 2012 8:35 PM

I don't see the images either and I don't understand why.  I'm self taught artist who is trying acrylics and having a few problems myself; for example, I cant figure which color/hue is opaque and which isn't.

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Jean Chang wrote
on 7 Jul 2012 10:08 PM

Hoyeru,

I don't know about the other brands, but on Golden acrylics, on each tube there are three little black hash marks and a stroke of the color across them so you can see whether it is opaque or not.  For instance, on the quinacridone magenta you can easily see the black marks right through the swatch of paint, whereas the pyrrole red almost blocks them out completely, so with the Goldens you can just look at the tube and see how transparent or opaque it is.

Jean

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peebee44 wrote
on 7 Jul 2012 11:42 PM

Guys, I just noticed this post was in 2008 so maybe they have gone now.

 

Paul

www.paulbennettfineart.com

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Jean Chang wrote
on 8 Jul 2012 7:59 AM

Hi Paul,

Duh!  I didn't even notice that!  Oh well, at least it gave me a chance to say hi. 

Thanks for letting us know.

Jean

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eubie wrote
on 26 Jul 2012 8:15 PM

I read the tips on the new Golden Series, open colors ! Need to try these soon..Good to keep up with the new art supplies out there. Eubie

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