Started on the acrylic series today. Had to stop the encaustic series because of the summer’s heat and the new mask I had ordered (but not yet received) to protect myself against the toxic fumes arising from the (heated) encaustic paint.
Ah bon, so acrylic. Most people learn to paint with it. Some never leave. It dries fast, it’s cheap, and easy to manipulate. What’s not to like? Well, for me, it’s plastic. And for that reason alone I’ve avoided it like the plague ever since my college days. That may seem like an irrational reason – which it is – but since the tactile quality of the substrate, the gesso, the medium and the pigments has always been my navigational compass I’ve heeded this aversion. So now this project offers me the chance to dive back in and re-examine my distaste.
I began with this panel. It’s an open field of a plastered wall in the foreground of the overall assemblage. The original composition then is: nothing, a blank canvas. These kinds of open compositions are a lot of fun and a great way to acquaint myself with any particular medium (which in this case, is acrylic). There was no underdrawing, so I began with an imprimatura in yellow ochre to set the tone and began slashing in paint. Because this panel called for modelling in the prep phase, the surface was already modelled to reflect the movement of a plasterer’s trowel. I used the painting knife to increase this tactile movement. When I was satisfied that there was enough variation in the surface, I splashed on some toothbrush dots for graphical and value contrast. I was done – or so I thought.
Yet after I had completed the whole series I returned to this one. The main reason was hue. I noticed that this one was too pink. It might work fine as a stand alone painting but if I wanted these panels to integrate into one vibratory whole without TOO much dissonance then it seemed best to alter the hue. I mixed up some titanium white with a pinch of yellow ochre and troweled it on using the painting knife. Much of my subtle modulation disappeared. No problem. I mixed up some raw umber with clear glazing gel and water to create a light wash. I drizzled it down from the top, allowing gravity to imitate the stains on the original wall. When that dried, I tooth-brushed on a tint of dots and was done. You can compare the original panel above right with this new one above left (as well as spotlighted above). I think the new version is an upgrade, don’t you?
In both cases, the whole process took me maybe an hour. That’s acrylics. Technical write up of my use of acrylics for indirect painting in this project here.