Tag Archives: acrylics


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Hosanna, 7x5", Acrylic, ©2012 Lucinda Howe

I have had a wonderful time this week working in my studio, painting palms and preparing for Open Studios April 21-22.  I’ll be featuring paintings of tropical palms and low country palmettos for the special event.

My studio on Two Notch Road will be open April 21, 10 am – 6 pm and April 22, 12 – 6 pm along with 68 other artists around Richland and Lexington Counties.  If you’re in the Northeast area, I suggest you come by my studio first thing Saturday for a cup of coffee, check out Karen Langley at The Village Artists, then work your way toward Forest Acres and downtown.  It will take you most of the weekend to get around to all the studios.

See the map below to plan your route.


Click here for tickets to the preview party on April 19.





View 701 CCA Columbia Open Studios 2012 in a full screen map

Posted in Studio Also tagged , |

Experimenting with Texture


June Lily

June Lily, 24x24", Acrylic on masonite, by Lucinda Howe

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been reading about having a Renaissance Soul, and it has encouraged me to experiment with different techniques in my art work.  As I have looked through my photos from France, I wanted to capture the texture of the old stone walls and mossy waterwheels, but not be too literal in copying photos.

I’ve also been wanting to experiment more with some of the many texture mediums available for use with acrylic paints.  This painting of waterlilies is an example of one use of texture.  It is painted on the rough side of masonite prepared with a red gesso background.  To bring the top layer back to white or a light color, I build up a layer of Golden molding paste, then add a thin glaze made with acrylic paint and glazing medium for light value accents.

June Lily detail

Detail of June Lily showing use of Golden molding paste to create texture and white surface for glazing

Although I use this technique often, I feel that much more can be done with the texture mediums.  So currently in the studio, I’m looking at my photos from France and also playing around with texture.  Clear gels and opaque medium have different effects, and they can be mixed with acrylic colors, additives, and drawing media.

So far, I’m having fun and learning how things work, but it takes a while for the paintings to dry between layers. I hope to have a new piece completed soon!

Posted in Acrylics Also tagged |

When Acrylic Paint Doesn’t Stick

Flat paint skin

Acrylic gel medium combined with dried paint chips

Bent paint skin

Flexible paint skin bent into cone shape

Last week’s article explained that acrylic paint bonds well to rough or absorbent surfaces.  Knowing that it doesn’t stick well to slick surfaces can lead to some interesting opportunities.  If you pour or spread paint in a thin layer on glass, hard plastic, or freezer paper, you will be able to peel it off the film after it dries. These photos show a paint film formed by covering palette scrapings with several layers of gel medium on freezer paper.  The gel dried clear and flexible and the “skin” was peeled off the slick paper.  This skin can be cut with scissors and combined with other paint as a collage element.   It can even be formed into three-dimensional shapes.  The only limit is your imagination.

Have you tried this technique?  How do you use acrylic skins?

Posted in Acrylics, Uncategorized Also tagged |

How To Create A Strong Acrylic Paint Film

Warning: Tech Alert… The information below may seem somewhat technical, but it is important to the painter who wants to create a painting that will stand the test of time and to the collector who wants to understand how paintings are created and how they will last.

Acrylic paints are made up of tiny particles of plastic called acrylic polymer suspended in water colored with pigment.  When paint is applied to a support, the water begins to evaporate and the plastic particles move closer together and form a glue-like bond between the pigment and the support.  The bond is the strongest on absorbent surfaces like paper, cloth, and wood.  Plexiglas, metal, and other smooth surfaces must be roughed with sandpaper to allow the paint to stick.  The strength of the bond is important to ensure that the next layers of paint and varnish don’t peel or crack.

The strength of the paint film is also affected by the amount of water in the paint.  If the paint is diluted with too much water, the acrylic particles will be too far apart to bond properly.   Therefore it is necessary to use a low viscosity medium to thin paint for transparency rather than adding more water.  The exception is applying acrylic to paper.  Because the surface is absorbent, the paint sinks into the paper to form the bond.  So acrylics can be thinned with a lot of water for watercolor effects on paper.

Next time…. If you know how to make the paint stick, you also know how to keep it from sticking.   How does that knowledge help you?

Posted in Acrylics, Basics Also tagged |

A New Medium for the New Year

Have you tried painting with acrylics?   Do you love them as much as I do?  If you haven’t tried them, what are you waiting for? It’s the new year.  Get started!

As I may have mentioned in a previous letter, acrylics are great because they dry fast.  But that’s not the only reason to love them.  Acrylics are versatile and can be used for a wide variety of effects.

In the next few weeks, I will be teaching some classes on acrylic techniques, so I thought I would post a few tips in the blog and newsletter as well.

Acrylic paints were developed in the early part of the 20th century and became commercially available in the 1950’s.  They consist of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer immersion which can be thinned with water, but the paint film is not water-soluable after it dries.  Wet acrylic polymer is a milky color, but it dries clear, so acrylic paints dry darker than they appear when wet.  Acrylic polymer is available without pigment and is called acrylic “medium”.  Manufacturers of artist quality paints have developed an amazing array of mediums with additives to modify the viscosity, transparency, and drying time.  All of these mediums can be mixed with paints in a wide variety of techniques to mimic other types of paint or to create effects not possible with other media.  (Note that the plural of acrylic “medium” is “mediums”, but oil and watercolor are painting “media”).

Next week…. More about how acrylic paint film is formed and how to manipulate it.

Posted in Acrylics


My husband and I enjoyed a great trip to Aruba last week.  Here is a painting done in about an hour in the shade of a palapa on the beach near where he was snorkeling.

Aruban Beach, 11x14", Acrylic

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Also tagged , |

Sunny Palms

Last Dance Acrylic 11x14"

This week I’m continuing the tropical garden theme.  Isn’t it nice to remember the  warmth of the tropics during a cold snap in the winter?  This abstract palm painting has the same sunny color scheme as the bathroom mural I was working on last week.  The dominant yellow is contrasted with blue purple shadows and accents of red-purple and blue-green.

Wishing you the warmth of the tropics for your holiday season!

Posted in Acrylics, Color Theory Also tagged , |

How to Start Painting en Plein Air

Have you ever wanted to start plein air (outdoor) painting, but didn’t know where to start?  May I suggest starting in your own back yard?  Here is a video showing how I paint in my garden.


When I first started painting outside, I would drive around looking for the perfect location only to find that I had forgotten something essential (paint, for instance) or it had started to rain or there were people watching me.   And I’d come home without much of a painting.   So I decided to try a few excursions to the back yard to work the kinks out of my system.  I was able to run back inside to fetch forgotten items, and no one was making comments about my clumsiness.  At that point the subject matter was not important; a magnolia blossom or a lawn chair was equally useful for drawing practice.

So if you want to get started, pack a kit with the following essential supplies:

A portable easel
Drawing book
Pencil or other drawing instrument
Palette knife
Solvent (mineral spirits for oils, water for watercolor and acrylics)
Paper, canvas, or board
Paper towels or rags
Any other tools specific to your medium
Bug repellant
Drinking water
A canvas bag or backpack

Here is a photo of a basic kit for painting with acrylics.

Painting Kit

Supplies for painting outdoors with acrylic paints

I’ve included pre-toned red boards as my support, but you can use any white or toned canvas, board, or paper.

Once you have your kit together, head outside and set up to paint.  Don’t worry too much about the subject; just test the equipment.  Once you have everything together, MAKE A LIST, and keep it in your bag so you won’t forget anything.  Keep the kit packed and ready to go at any moment.

Don’t waste a day of this beautiful fall weather!  Do some plein air painting this week, and post some comments or questions to let me know how things are going.

Posted in Plein Air Also tagged , , |