Tag Archives: acrylic technique

New Acrylic Painting Class for 2012

Purple Shadows, 14x11", Acrylic on gessoboard, by Lucinda Howe......black gesso drawing, transparent glazes, opaque texture

Are you ready to try some new painting techniques in 2012?

Would you like to know more about how to use fluid acrylic paints?

Do you want to wake up your color palette with bold, exciting color?

If so, please join me for a 6-week painting class on Wednesday evenings starting February 15, 2012.

We will be using Golden Fluid acrylic paints on canvasboard or gessoboard.  Subject matter will be landscapes and gardens in bold color.   Drawings will be provided so beginners can concentrate on learning the painting techniques, but artists with drawing experience are encouraged to bring and use your own reference materials.

Here are a few of the things that will be covered in the class:

  • How to use a Munsell color wheel  to develop a  dynamic color palette for a painting
  • The difference between heavy body and fluid acrylics and when to use each type.
  • How to avoid making “muddy” colors when mixing
  • What acrylics do better than watercolors
  • Why a red background is ideal for landscape painting

I’m excited to be offering this class at The Village Artists at the Village at Sandhill, Columbia, SC.   The classroom has easels and plenty of space, so we should have a wonderful time.

Click here to register.

I  look forward to seeing you in the class!

Posted in Acrylics, Uncategorized Also tagged |

How to Create Your Own Stencil

Last week we talked about incorporating stencils in your acrylic paintings.  To personalize your design, you can create your own stencil.

Cicada on Wall

The cicada is the symbol of Provence and often appears on walls and in fabrics

In this example, I am showing the steps to create a stencil of a cicada, the symbol of good luck in Provence, to use in my series of paintings inspired by my recent trip.

The first step is to start with a simple image of a terracotta cicada on the wall of a house.


Cicada in black and white

Cicada in black and white

To isolate the image, crop the photo and print it in black and white.

Trace the outline, being sure to completely enclose the shapes that will be cut away.






Cicada Stencil

Cutting cicada stencil with heat tool

Tape a piece of clear blank stencil plastic over the drawing onto a piece of glass.  Cut the stencil using a craft knife or a heat tool with a sharp point.  Pop out the cut-away shapes and clean up the edges if necessary.



Tape the stencil to your canvas or board and cover it with a layer of molding paste about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick.  Carefully lift the stencil and let the molding paste dry overnight.  Clean the stencil before the paste dries on it.



Cicadas drying

Molding paste ready for drying

Try varying the thickness of molding paste to see what works best with your stencil.






Next week…. Adding color over the stencil.

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Smooth is a Texture, Too!


Purple Haze, 24x18", Acrylic on masonite, by Lucinda Howe, showing smooth and rough textures

Last week I encouraged you to experiment with acrylic mediums to add texture to your paintings.  The dictionary defines texture as “the characteristic visual and tactile quality of the surface of a work of art resulting from the way in which the materials are used.”

With the wide variety of mediums available, it is easy to make surfaces rough, wavy, crackled, gritty, peaked, or stringy.  You may even get going with the palette knife and pastry spreader, gluing sand and paper with abandon until, suddenly, oh my, it’s a big lumpy mess!

Yes, it’s easy to get carried away.  Too much texture can be as much of a challenge as not enough.  When you are painting, keep in mind that smooth and glassy are textures, too.  Smooth areas contrast with the rougher areas and give your eye a quiet area a place to rest within the painting.

But don’t despair if you’ve gone too far!  The good thing about acrylics is that they can be applied in many layers.  If you want to bring back a smooth surface, lay your painting flat and pour on a a liquid medium or a self-leveling clear gel.  Let it dry, and apply more layers as needed to smooth out the area.  Once you have reestablished a smooth surface, you can continue painting or leave some of the clear layer showing to add visual depth.

Are you experimenting with texture?  Post what you are learning in the comments below.

Posted in Acrylics Also tagged |

3 Things That Acrylics Do Better Than Watercolors

Morning Glories, by Lucinda Howe, Acrylic, 14x11"

Acrylics paints are very versatile and can be used with techniques borrowed from other media.  If you want use acrylics like watercolors, look for acrylics with low viscosity such as fluids, airbrush paints, or acrylic inks.  Since these paints have a high concentration of pigments, they can be diluted with a lot of water to simulate watercolor effects.  These techniques can be used on any absorbent supports like paper, illustration board, or claybord, and can be combined with graphite, watercolor crayons, and wax resists.

The best part is that acrylics will do some things that watercolors don’t do well:

  1. Acrylics can be layered without lifting the paint below. Watercolors are made with a binder that can be dissolved again after the paint dries.  This allows lifting color on purpose, but it also can cause muddiness when wet paint mixes with an earlier layer.  Because acrylics are not re-souble when dry, subsequent layers don’t lift and allow you to create transparent overlapping layers.
  2. Acrylics dry with truer value.  Watercolors dry lighter than they look when wet, so it is hard to judge when the value is right.  Acrylics don’t lighten as much, allowing you to created brilliant colors and emphatic darks.
  3. Acrylics don’t have to be framed under glass.  Yay!!  Because the paints aren’t water soluble when dry, you have more options for framing.  For example, this morning glory painting has been painted on Arches watercolor paper.  Then the paper was bonded to Ampersand gessobord with matte medium.  It will be finished with a spray varnish and framed without glass.

    If you would like to learn more about using acrylics like watercolor, you’re invited to sign up for my next class on acrylic techniques starting February 23.  Click here for more information.

    Posted in Acrylics Also tagged |

    Gesso Drawing

    Structure of painting has been created with black gesso

    Warm glaze is applied over entire surface

    The finished piece shows little evidence of the gesso drawing.

    Another painting using the black gesso and warm glaze technique.

    Last week I talked about using gesso to establish the dark structure of a painting.  You can use the gesso full strength for solid black or dilute it for gray tones.

    Once the gesso is dry, paint a warm color glaze made of fluid acrylic paint mixed with glazing or gloss medium in a middle value.  The glaze establishes a warm underpainting and adds a hint of color on top of the black.

    After the glaze is dry, add some opaque lights to create a full value range and some cool middle values for color contrast. Leave some of the transparent glaze showing to contract with the opaque paint.

    When the painting is finished, there is very little evidence of the gesso.

    The last painting of the low country salt marsh and palmettos was created using the same black gesso and warm glaze technique.  This was a demo for the acrylic painting class I’ve been teaching in the last few weeks.

    Click here for more information about the class.

    Posted in Acrylics, Basics Also tagged |