Category Archives: acrylics

The Science of Painting (2)

For those readers who are professional artists, or artists by education, this will all seem sophomoric at best but I want to analyze “Hayfield” as it now exists and note the changes I want to try.

First off – here is the painting and its underpainting for reference (excuse the flash reflections):

Hayfield 100dpi

Hayfield underpainting

The idea was to imply distance perspective agains the black underpainting by using very dark values near the right side and moving to lighter values to the left.  That worked to my satisfaction at least.

As I look at the result, it seems to me the blocking image of a tree in the upper right corner should really have been changed to a dark, almost brooding cloud formation with maybe some backlighting.  I may try to change that.

The hayfield itself turn out darker than I wanted but I think I’ll leave that alone, or I could change the paintings title to ‘Plowed Field?’  Nahhh!

The yellow trees however did not work out at all.  In retrospect I forgot that yellow blended with black produces a green — in this case quite a sickly one.  I’m going to try to change those to something more like a dried yellow color indicating the season.  I also need to add a little highlighting, especially to the trees in the left portion of the painting.

And I notice there is no real focal point, although my eye at least seems to gravitate to the green tree popping up from the reds and oranges at the right upper thirds point.  I think I will see if I can rework the vine on the fence a bit to become a morning glory to pop a little color closer to the bottom right thirds point.

I need to study the amount of impasto – the thickness of paint – needed in these acrylic images.  When I do a knife based painting in acrylics the impasto is deeper and the colors look better — I may have been brushing the color out too thinly here which is why I can see the weave of the canvas so easily.

Most of all I need to work up my paint transparencies chart to avoid some of these problem situations.


Seeing versus interpreting

This painting was an unexpected surprise.  As I looked at it when finished I saw a valley running near a mountain with pine trees.  Yet it started as just blocks of color in order to practice the “pine tree” technique.  I had to ask myself, to what extent does the painting ‘suggest’ and the mind ‘interpret’ what is seen.  Not a particularly surprising thought, but a bit startling to actually experience it.  The larger version ‘Three Pines’ is at this gallery page.

3 pines 100dpi


I stumbled across an old photograph taken in the 1980s.  It was when I was just learning how to set aperture and exposure time to take low light photographs.  I was using Ektachrome 35mm slide film at the time.  All I have left of the slide is this very bad scan, also done on the first scanner I ever owned — the name of which escapes me.

PierSunset 100dpi

I always liked the photo mostly for sentimental reasons, recalling my joy at being able to capture what the sun looked like and being able to position the shot to have the sun setting right on top of the dock.

I wanted to know what would happen if I tried to capture this same image as an acrylic painting – I needed some experience mixing colors in acrylics which has turned out to be a problem since I cannot mix on the brush for some reason.

I began the painting by using painter’s tape to mask off the horizon line, and used black gesso for the sky.  After that was dry I painted in the sky and let it dry.  Next was to mix a color for the water and add it up to the horizon line.  The rest of the painting was done by mixing colors (very dark browns, very dark greens) and finishing the components, adding the sun highlights at the end.

Obviously I was not able to render the sun the way I thought I should have, and will mask if off leaving a white disk should I ever try this effect again.  But all in all, I am not upset with the result, which I’ve titled ‘Boca Ciega Sunset‘ (click for full image.)

Boca Ciega Sunset 100dpi