My own art and craft

Painting …part 1

I’m slowly, slowly, getting better at painting with acrylics. This is just a short blog entry with pictures to show a process and where I’m at up to now. Might be useful to those who are on a similar journey.

My acrylics paint set is just a basic set of colours from the Works I buy a lot of white paint in larger volume as I tend to get through more of this than the others. The canvases I get in packs of about 5 from either the Works, Hobbycraft or Amazon (depending on who has a deal on at the time). I mainly buy larger canvases now, simply because it seems easier to paint on a bigger space, but the one for this dog painting is about A4 sized. If you’re a beginner and you go too small, it becomes really tricky.

The method shown below is one that I’ve found helps when I’m on a fairly short timeframe and when I’m doing something where I’m bothered that the end piece looks decent.

To start, I took the canvas and put a grid on it (you can get some apps that put a grid over a photo for free on iPhone or Android so you can use that to copy an image). I’m sure there’s probably a snobbery about grids and I don’t tend to use one when I’ve got longer (as I can just keep painting over things until it looks right) but they are really effective in helping to get started.

I’m partial to a bright background, which is easy to do. Just put blobs of your chosen colour and white, and mix on the canvas. It does make a difference which colour you use, and some will work better than others. As I learn more on this I’ll try and explain in future blogs.

Next sketch a rough outline to work from. If you want to rub your grid lines out at this point, you can. Or, leave them until later.

Now time for the paint. As with sketching forget about any detail in these early stages and just map out your darkest areas and lightest areas. The colour on this was essentially yellow ochre and white, introducing a darker brown (burnt umber) and black for the darker shades.

Once you’ve got your darkest and lightest areas, you can find the mid ground for the rest and build up. Acrylics dry quickly and so you’ll need to work with that, but it does mean you can get layers built up in a short timespan.

Once you’ve got basically got everything in the right place and your tones look about right, you can start to introduce more detail. It feels good when you do start to make progress and the picture springs to life. Here, the eyes made all the difference.

You then have to make the decision as to how far you’ll go with the detail. I don’t have the patience or skills to get something that looks photo realistic, so just like to get the sense of something. At this point in time, I also don’t really do backgrounds as I feel its almost like doing another painting which is too much risk in case I wreck it! That may change, but at the minute I’m happy with a bold character on a bright background.

So this is where I’ve got to at the moment in terms of a skill set. As and when I think I’m getting better, I’ll return to the blog.