I am new to painting.. I literally just started messing around last week. I have been trying to perfect blending my backgrounds, and I am not sure if I am getting it or not.
I am using Artist Loft brand flat panel canvas (hard) bought from Michaels Craft store.
My first couple of paintings I did were strictly with level 1 Artist Loft brand acrylic paint in tubes. As you can see in the photos below, with the Swing, and the Love Birds, the blending isn't subtle. (Looks like a 1st grader painting to me). I only used water for blending. I do notice on the 2nd one, that it appears the white of the canvas is showing through. Did I dilute too much?
Ok so then on to the Third one I did. Here the brush got to dry and I couldn't seem to recover it. So I just left it and finished the painting with the tree. Now I regressed to kindergarten I think.
And last night. I watched a few tutorials about blending and also how you can use craft paint and an extender to help the paint not dry as fast. So I am using strictly craft pain on this with an extender(which I think I used too much because it was still a little wet this morning). What I like is that it I think it seems like a better blend (tell me if I am wrong), however, there seems to be alot of the canvas peeking through. (along with brush stroke stops...grr..)
Now as with all of these I have only used one coat. With this last painting I am wondering if I have to do another layer on top of the existing? I guess I am just unhappy that white canvas is popping through when it seems the tutorials I watch, the paint is really covering the canvas. I then question if it's the canvas type, since I am using a flat panel, however, I am looking at photos of others and they are quite vivid.
I am really frustrated and really want to master this blending technique before moving on to something else. I am a full time office worker and there are no painting classes for just a working stiff (who can't afford a painting class anyway through a school) and craft stores are hit and miss for instruction. Any help you can provide me is VERY appreciated!
Hang in there. Let's just consider the last three of the four you have posted. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, numbers two and three of "sky with moon" paintings are not all that bad. The third one of this group is pretty good.
An ultra-smooth blending is not all that easy with standard acrylics. This is because standard acrylics dry fast. From your comments, it sounds like you are trying to achieve the type of smooth blending common to oil painting. There are several ways to work with acrylics. Most people expect to
use them as they would oil paint. However, they are not oil paints and they do
not work exactly like oils. They work like acrylics—and that's pretty special in itself.
Acrylics can be used as thin as watercolor, as opaque as oil, as a build up of thin glazes or as a thick textured impasto. They are wonderfully versatile and they are unbelievably forgiving. If you don't like the way things look, the paint drys so fast you can change things right away.
My first suggestion is for you to purchase a couple of good instruction books. Use them as work books. Check with Amazon.com regarding books on acrylic painting. They have a number of good ones. You might consider "DK Art School: An Introduction to Acrylics" by Ray Smith—paperback at $7.94. Also here at Artist Daily there is a free book on acrylic techniques. Check "Free Resources" on the home page. Another help might be YouTube. Some of the videos could help explain paint handling, if nothing else.
At this point, here are some suggestions for you about blending:• Do not be too concerned about a perfectly smooth blend from color to color or from dark to light. Simply try to achieve a good progression from color A to color B to color C. If you are seeing too much brushwork or paint texture, that may not be all bad. After all, it's a part of painting.• If you are using acrylics as opaques, lighten color by adding white or a lighter color rather that adding water and diluting the paint.• Pick up some acrylic gesso. Brush it on your working surface as a base for acrylics and to create a slight texture.• Take advantage of the surface gesso-texture in the blending process.• Practice on small (11 x 14 or 15 x 20) areas. Gesso on 3/16" foam board makes a good surface for practice.• Experiment with a "dry technique", blending by using color variations brushed next to each other rather than brushed into each other.
There is a whole lot more to this. Blending is just a part of paint handling and general technique. The important thing is that you have begun a life long journey learning all you can about painting. Just like the rest of us.
Never hesitate to ask questions.
Best of luck—Paul
Thank You so much for responding with some great pointers, suggestions, and most of all encouragement!
I was determined that I was not going to throw away the canvas that I posted earlier.. instead.. I decided to rework it. I am much more happy with it now.
What I learned in doing the rework is that I need to not be shy about how much paint I am using, especially with these craft paints. I didn't use the extender this time, rather more paint, little bit of water. I just kept working it until it got to a place that I liked it, but not so much that I could ruin it.
I also learned that pressure on the brush is a part of this. I had been full on hard pressure before, now, I was heavy handed in the beginning and as I was blending and near finishing, I lightened my pressure. I don't know if this is something normal.. but it is what I found to work.
Now maybe this still isn't as blended as some would like, but I am very satisfied because I have a painting, and I see little to NO canvas poking through. This canvas actually has a flaw that I see, so I am going to work on top of this and try to design over the flaws.
Like they say, keep trying. I think I am getting better.. (am I? lol)
Yes this is much better.
Something else—be sure you are using the best materials. You can't do good work with second rate tools. Personally, I believe Golden acrylics are the best. Also, it is imperative that you do some practice work with acrylic instruction books.
I have mentioned "standard acrylics". Golden also makes "Open Acrylics". "Open Acrylics" stay wet longer and can facilitate smooth blending. However, I believe that in the learning stage you should stick with standard acrylics.
Lastly, it would be good for you to visit galleries or art exhibitions that are featuring realistic paintings painted with acrylics. Become familiar with the working surfaces and surface textures used—and the brush work and general techniques employed.
Thank You for all your great advice!!!!!!
Here is the finished piece.. I had something else in mind but for some reason this is the direction I ended up going. That's fine with me because out of all of them I have done this is my favorite by far.
Keep up the good work.
I don't know whether it is true, but I found some answers on the net to
the problem of how to make acrylic paint thicker , stating that adding baking soda to
the paint will help.
Perhaps it is a bit outside the topic but I thought it may be of interest.
I agree with Paul, 2nd and 3rd one is good, I found 2nd one much better. I am no expert and I am learning too. I was having a similar issue and this video explained it really well, check it out: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-lessons/Medium/Acrylics/Acrylics-Blending.html
How do you do it..WOW!!!