Monday, March 30, 2015

Color and Acrylic Paint

I’m not too familiar with acrylic. True, I’ve done a couple of paintings in it over the years, but always with an eye towards curiosity more than anything else. However, I've now reached the point in my Stephen Quiller DVD – “Color Foundations for the Painter” where he talks about underpainting in acrylic as a tool for better understanding color. 

Unlike watercolor and gouache, acrylic won’t move when dry. This makes it perfect tool for studying the effects of warm or cool light glazed over similar underpaintings.

In the video, Quiller makes two identical studies in acrylic which he then overpaints, one in warm yellows and the other in cool pinks. I endeavored to do the same. The acrylic colors I used in my underpaintings were: Turquoise, Manganese Blue Hue, Phthalo Blue, Cadmium Red Medium, and Indo Orange Red.
Acrylic underpainting (right hand study)
I tried to keep both underpainting studies as similar as I could in value and color.
Two acrylic studies showing different light
Here are the final studies. The left is overpainted in yellows and yellow-oranges and shows a sunset scene. The study on the right, overpainted in cool pinks and magenta, shows a pre-dawn scene.

Pretty cool, eh?

Acrylics are pretty fun to work with, especially as they dry brighter than when applied. I'm looking forward to doing more with them.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Painting of the Day

"St. John's Episcopal Church, Snohomish" 9" x 12" gouache
in a Stillman & Birn Beta journal Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2015
This painting is of a local church, St. John's Episcopal. I drive by it all the time and thought it was high time I painted it.

This painting gave me an excuse to try out some super short-handled travel brushes I bought over the winter - the Jack Richardson Plein Air Travel Brush Set. This set has seven synthetic brushes, packaged in a small stand-up travel wallet, making them really handy for taking out plein air painting. I was a little concerned about the length of the handles, which are half the length of "normal" watercolor bushes. But after giving them a thorough test in this painting, I'm happy to say that they worked out fine. The synthetic bristles were durable, made a good line, held color and water well. Thumbs up all around for the travel brushes! They'll now get a permanent spot in my plein air kit.

I only used five gouache colors for this painting - Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Red, Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue, and permanent white. This seemed enough for the subject.

I was looking back at my first gouache sketch, done eight months ago, and was noting how much I've learned since. It was a nice seeing the progress, it made me grateful for the opportunity to continue learning.