Acrylic Painting Workshop
July 21 and 28, 2011
FREE PLAY WITH PAINT
COLOR WHEEL/FIND GRAYS
MAKE GRAY SCALE/VALUES
5. IMAGINATION PAINTING
6. MEMORY APPLE AND PEAR/FIVE GRAYS/B&W
BRING ALL THESE ON DAY TWO..
1. DIRECTED PLAY
2. GLAZING THE GRAY APPLE AND PEAR
3. FULL COLOR PAINTING FROM REFERENCE
Hard at work on the apple/pear painting.
Apple & pear in Shades of Gray from Memory
First We Play!
Playing with paint and tools
Put on, wipe off, any brush
Trying acrylic on paper.
First mix the primaries, secondaries and
tertiaries for the colorwheel.
Mix a near neutral color for each pair of compliments.
Add each of the compliments to the neutral mixture
to get the color to the right and left of center.
Most of the time you would paint with the mixtures
in the middle three columns.
All of these have the three primaries in varying proportions.
Mix five grays with black and white.
Make a continuous gradation from white to black
in the bottom rectangle.
This student promises to finish soon.
While completing this chart you will learn
terms and techniques. Soon the student will finish this, too.
You can down load and print these out below.
A painting of water with no blue used, only black.
More play with paint and tools.
The theme: Deepest winter.
Can be abstract or suggest a scene.
Don't carry it beyond suggestion.
Pear and apple from memory in gray scale.
You don't need reference or color to make a painting.
Painting is mostly about 2D design: shapes and values.
1. Sketch in pencil using straight lines, not smooth curves.
2. Bring the entire canvas into play with just these two objects.
Divide up the rectangle in a pleasing manner.
3. Go over the lines with black paint, messy is ok.
4. Fill each shape with it's own value, in this case four.
5. Vary the value within each shape to model the objects.
6. Add white highlights and black accents.
Reestablish the black lines if desired.
Great job everyone! See ya next Thursday.
Painting demo from reference photo...
First we played with paint looking for what might emerge.
This is my demo, 11x14" on canvas.
Then we used gloss medium to glaze color on
our apple and pear gray scale paintings.
The magenta was not the best for glazing
for two reasons: It isn't very red and it
isn't very transparent. It works because it is
more red than anything else in the picture.
We could have added Alizarin Crimson and Transparent Pyrrole Orange
to our palette. Or make a green apple and a yellow pear.
Major Geometric Motif
This composition seems to be working.
Why is that? Notice the shapes, both positive and negative.
Many triangles can be discovered. These help the composition
feel 'right'. The Major Geometric Shape Motif is triangles.
The Minor Geometric Motif is rectangles.
Awareness of the two-dimensional shapes in your painting
and their relationships to one another and to the rectangle of the canvas
is an essential skill. This has nothing to do with subject matter.
It's all about two dimensional design. Painting is a subdivision of
two dimensional design. If you have a strong design you
can figure out how to get the paint on the canvas.
Demo from Reference Photo
I have simplified, eliminated and rearranged
the major elements of the photo to end up
with a good design.
On one level this is a picture of a barn.
Considered as an arrangement of two dimensional shapes
a whole new world opens up.
Rectangles, triangles, a circle and an arrow.
This was not the result of a master plan carefully conceived before hand.
The painting was composed intuitively, judging and correcting shapes
and their relationships by feel rather than logic.
If your painting doesn't 'read'
If it seem flat and dull and uninteresting
The problem is almost always values.
You need a value scheme.
Design the scheme so that
adjacent shapes have contrasting values
1 - Dark on light
2 - Light on dark
This is separate from the color scheme
Landscapes often consist of four distinct planes.
From lightest to darkest...
1 - overhead plane...Sky, source of light
2 - horizontal plane...Ground, most lit
3 - sloped plane...Mountains, less lit
4 - vertical plane...Trees, least lit
Look for exceptions in your reference.
Here the fence and barn are vertical, but
have been painted white.
All participants did very well. So well that I proudly awarded to each
For the first exercise I handed out a half sheet ...
Exercise: Directed Play Painting
1. Concept: Emotion, Aesthetic, Conceptual, Descriptive, Narrative, Message
2. Color Scheme: Monochromatic, Complimentary, Analogous, Triadic, Tetradic, Warm, Cool, Split-analogous, Split-complementary, Grays
3. Value Scheme: High, Low, Mid Key, Full Range
4. Composition: Radial, ‘L’, Window, Cruciform, Cantilever, Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, Curves, Pattern, Organic, Triangle
5. Geometric Shape Motif: Circle, Rectangle, Triangle, Lines, Arcs, Ovals
6. Application: Bristle Brush, Soft Brush, Knife, Thick, Thin, Rag, Finger
7. Style: Abstract, Abstraction, Expressionism, Impressionism, Painterly, Realism, Photorealism
I suggested that they try to express the feeling of Spring in an abstract painting that may develop into an abstraction with vaguely suggested shapes using an analogous color scheme and in a high key. The result was some amazing paintings! This is my demo...
be made using the following for reference.
may print these out, but they look better on the computer monitor.
Right click on the link, left click 'Open link in new
Save to your harddrive
Color Wheel & Mixing Grays Chart...pdf, 7kb
Workshop Guide...doc, 261kb
See painting demo videos.
Picture making for all levels with water-mixable oils. Or regular oils with linseed oil and Eco-House 125 Neutral Thinner. Over two days you will learn a number of exercises, techniques and methods so that you can experiment, explore, learn and grow on your own after the workshop. Painting is more about concept and 2D design than about applying paint to canvas.
Ways to Learn and Improve Your Picture Making
1. Focus on concept - what it is you hope to capture. Not 'what is the subject'.
2. Thumbnail sketching - try several compositions in just a few minutes.
2a. Or...use sketchy lines or fuzzy shapes on the canvas to find your composition.
3. Charcoal drawing - focus on shapes and values, no color.
4. Color mixing - three primaries, plus black and white, mix full range of color.
5. Painting play - mix colors you like, paint by whim & chance, see what happens.
6. Memory/imagination painting - paint without references.
7. Mapping and coloring - outline major shapes with black, pick a color for each shape.
8. Five step painting process - gesture, outline, underpaint, reconstruct outline, paint.
9. Assess and Correct - Is it working and how to fix it.
1. Focus on Concept
What is the painting about? Not what subject are you painting. What mood, emotion, atmosphere do you want to evoke? What inspired you to paint this picture? Write the concept down so you can check that you're on track as you paint. This is the most important step. You can borrow a concept from an old master's painting, a living artist, a photograph, a movie, TV, etc. What kind of art do you respond to the most? That's probably how you should be painting.
2. Thumbnail Sketching
Using pencil or pen on paper make a number of small, quick sketches in which you explore ways to best depict your concept, at least three. Divide your rectangle into only a few large shapes and values, no more than five or six, less if possible. Try horizontal, vertical, square formats. No detail. Try out compositions and imagine how you would paint the final. Decide high key, mid key or low key. Notan can be included in this category...small sketches with only three shapes each a different value. To aid in planning your picture you will need to be familiar with the elements and principles of art listed in 9. below.
Some prefer to explore composition directly on the canvas using vague shapes and sketchy lines that are easily changed until it feels right.
3. Charcoal Drawing
A very flexible, fluid and forgiving way to draw that is much like painting...and it's fun! A great way to practice picture making. You will learn to work with values alone to make a picture, an essential thing to know for good painting.
Materials needed: 4B pencil; felt-tip markers, fine and broad; Vine Charcoal, fat and thin Chamois; Stumps; Conte, black and white; Erasers, Extra Soft and kneaded; Paper Towel; Sketch book, Fingers and can of Hair Spray for fixative.
Draw a border. Sketch in the composition with the pencil. Confirm the drawing with the fine felt tip pen darkening only essential key points you don't want to loose because all the pencil lines are going to disappear. With the broad felt tip fill in the darkest shapes. Rub the large vine charcoal over all the white area remaining. Gently smooth the charcoal with the chamois to make a uniform middle gray. With the extra soft eraser remove charcoal in light areas. The kneaded eraser will bring back the white paper in the very lightest areas. The paper towel is for removing charcoal, blending, making marks and wiping fingers. The stumps are good for blending small areas. Then it's a matter of adding and removing charcoal, working back and forth until you're happy with the effect. I use the white Conte at the end for white lines and spots or even to make a black area white if needed.
Very similar to drawing with charcoal and a useful transition from drawing to painting are the monochromatic oil wash and the monochromatic oil painting. In the oil wash technique no white is used, only the white of the gesso, wiping off paint if necessary.
4. Color Mixing
Using just three primary colors plus black and white has two big advantages. The color scheme is automatically harmonized and you will become very good at mixing color. Starting with Cerulean Blue, Yellow Lemon and Permanent Rose secondary colors can be mixed: green, orange, and purple, plus any other color. Or use three primaries you already have. These are called 'hues'. Mixed secondaries will not be as intense or saturated as those you can buy in a tube, but for painting realistically they are fine. In time you may want to add a few more colors, but you don't need to. It is better to get everything you can from a few colors than try to make everything work with too many colors.
Most of the time you will want to paint with grays rather than paint directly from the tube. Many colors you put on the canvas will be mixed from all three primaries in different proportions. For example, the green mixed with Cerulean and Yellow will need to be toned down by adding Rose. Rose is called the 'compliment' of green because it is on the opposite side of the color wheel. Other useful grays can be mixed with a gray made from black and white plus red, for example, or some other color. All of these grays are called 'tones'. Tones can be more pleasing to the eye. They are complex, subtle and sophisticated. You may want to pre-mix a medium gray in cool and warm versions to save time. Tints are made by adding white to any color. Shades are made by adding black to any color.
5. Painting Play
Applying paint with no concept or goal in mind allows you to just play with paint. The final outcome is of no importance...having fun is. At some point you may see the suggestion of something, a face, a river, a figure. You can reinforce that image or let it go. Now is the time to be a little bit wild. Try things you would not try in a real painting. Experiment, discover, be impulsive, what if, see what happens.
6. Memory/Imagination Painting
Painting without reference material is a good way to improve your memory and powers of observation. It allows you to focus on the canvas and the 2D design problem, simplifying is automatic.
7. Mapping and Coloring
A simplified version of the traditional painting process. You are already familiar with this type of art. It's used in cartoons, funny papers, comic books, Manga, stained glass, posters, Hokusai woodblock prints and cloisonné. The results can be very beautiful.
The most difficult task in painting is simplifying and clarifying the profusion and ambiguities of nature as you try to reduce it all to a two dimensional design to hang on the wall. Mapping means to make an outline of the important shapes, organizing your design into concrete shapes with clear and distinct boundaries. The line is black and more or less of uniform thickness. Each enclosed area is painted in a solid color. Adjustments can be made if needed. Finally, color variation, gradation, etc. may be added within each area. This exercise requires you to think in a way that is very useful for your growth as a designer in two dimensional space.
8. Five step painting process…only one of the many ways to make a painting.
1. Gesture and Movement - Use a pencil, move it lightly and loosely. Don't draw the object rather find the movement in the composition, feel out the boundaries of the canvas. This will link the subject with the canvas in your mind.
2. Outline - Similar to mapping, the outline will give structure to the picture. Locate the line where two values meet. Use a paint brush with a dark paint. More contrast between two areas of value means a darker line will separate them. Less contrast between two areas of value means a thinner and lighter line will separate them. Don't focus on drawing objects...let it happen as you outline the value shapes.
3. Underpaint - Mix up colors that are close to what you envision, but somewhat lighter. Leave the white of the canvas for the lightest areas. Make no commitment to final values now. The image should emerge slowly like a Polaroid photo. The constructions lines may be covered over. Keep it light and make sure the colors you choose look good together on the canvas. Scrub a little of a new color on the canvas and see what it does to the colors already there. If it looks better, go ahead; if it looks worse, wipe it off or paint it over. Work all over the canvas. Don't stay in one place too long. You're figuring out what colors to use for this painting by trial and error. Make no attempt to finish anything, but get a good start on everything. Generally, the less finished the better. Still no commitments and we are not trying to paint a peach and a strawberry...just apply beautiful areas of color that begin to give the impression of fruit. Leave plenty for the viewer to do...don't 'finish' everything.
4. Reconstruct - Reestablish those boundary lines between areas of value contrast. The line work gives it structure. By scumbling we lost all the lines. It is possible you'll like this effect. If so, stop and frame it, you're done! Or you may do such a good job of reconstruction that you want to call it done and start another one. Usually you will go on to step 5.
5. Paint - Using thicker paint this time repaint the picture adjusting, correcting and improving as you go.
9. Assess and Correct
A painting is a series of corrected mistakes. As each stroke is laid down you should automatically assess the effect on what's already there. Does it fit in, does it add to or take away from? This determination is not done intellectually, not with logic and reasoning. You rely on how it feels to you. How do you know the soup needs more salt? You exercise your sense of taste. It may help to step back to get a fresh look. Then correct the value, the color, the shape. At some point you may know something is wrong, but what is hard to say. Now is the time to use logic and reasoning by doing an evaluation based on the elements and principles of art. Ask yourself a series of questions. Is my color scheme unified? Do I need to add gradation? Do I have enough contrast, rhythm, harmony, etc.? Are my values working? So on down the list noting problems and fixing them. It may help to set the canvas aside for a few days, look in a mirror, move to different light or get a second opinion. How does your favorite artist make a painting work? You can use this process to figure it out. No one can paint better than his ability to critique.
Here is a list of the elements of art: Line, Shape, Value, Color, Movement,
Size, Pattern. Here is a list of the principles of art: Unity, Harmony,
Contrast, Rhythm, Repetition, Gradation, Balance, Dominance.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, go back to the basics. If your paintings are not working out it is almost always a problem with values. Go back to charcoal drawing or monochromatic painting. Increase your understanding of values and their importance. If the value is right you can use almost any color. Have you simplified nature enough? Take the pressure off by doing a series of random paintings or paintings from imagination. Be prepared to sacrifice any part to improve the whole. If you spend hours rendering a tree beautifully only to notice it competes with the equally rendered barn, the tree must be subordinated. If you've worked for hours, tried everything and it's still a disaster, be bold...scrape all the paint off, wipe it down to the canvas. You may still have a ghost image left to use as a guide for starting over. After you get some experience your time is better spent in planning the painting than actually painting. You will find a lot of instructional material on my website: www.buildart.com/blog.htm and in my new book, 'Real Art Real Easy', search for it on Amazon.com.
More Learning Activities
1. Copy an old master's painting.
2. Paint on location, en plein air; or do a still life.
3. Study art history.
4. Memorize and understand the elements and principles of art.
5. Attend life drawing sessions.
6. Frequent galleries and museums.
7. Study art instruction books and videos.
8. Join a critique group.
9. Sketch everywhere you go.
10. Try a new style.
11. Do timed paintings of 25, 45 and 60 minutes.
Learning to paint is a life-long journey. Remember...it's supposed to be fun!
The item numbers below are from
Dick Blick Art Supply online.
Support this site by using this link,
Supplies will be provided for use during the workshop.
Thereafter, if you wish to order your own supplies, here is a list.
00623-1035 Gloss Medium 8 oz List $11.55 $5.88
A limited palette recommended for beginners, but similar to palettes used by successful professionals
Dick Blick is pretty good paint at a moderate price.
You may want to try Golden, W&N, etc.
00624-1014 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/WHT TITNM 4.65OZ In Stock $5.03
00624-3313 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/MED MGNTA 2OZ In Stock $3.35
00624-2043 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/MARS BLK 2OZ In Stock $3.35
00624-4133 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/CAD YLW LT HUE 2OZ In Stock $4.99
00624-5063 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/BRIL BLU 2OZ In Stock $3.35
8 oz. JARS, WAY CHEAPER
00624-1015 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/WHT TITNM 8OZ In Stock $8.73
00624-3315 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/MED MGNTA 8OZ In Stock $8.73
00624-2045 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/MARS BLK 8OZ In Stock $8.73
00624-4135 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/CAD YLW LT HUE 8OZ In Stock $11.46
00624-5065 DB ARTIST ACRYLIC/BRIL BLU 8OZ In Stock $8.73
China Bristle Disposable, short handle, Wood, buy locally
Size 1/2" wide ~1-1/2" long $0.50 ea. ?
05890-1059 White Taklon Set of 5 Short Handle List $14.95
Painting Knife/Palette Knife
03105-1002 (3) Diamond Trowel 2" List $1.55 $1.20
03119-1214 12 Painting Knife 2-1/4" × 9/16" List $5.29 $4.62
07015-1023 DB ECONO CANVS PANEL/9X12 24PK In Stock $17.09
Optional, but recommended
35200-1020 DISPOSABLE GLOVES/LATX PWDRD MED 100BX In Stock
SPRAY BOTTLE, ONE EA.
02912-1003 Atomizer Bottle List $2.75 $2.19
Masterson Sta-Wet Premier Palette
Premier Palette 12" × 16" × 1¾" List $23.95 $15.26
Tri-Art Non-Stick Palette
Non-Stick Palette 12" × 16" List $25.95 $19.99
2 white, plastic picnic plates or platters
One for paint mixing and one for a cover
Roll of paper towels
Sketch paper or pad
Old shirt or apron
Small jar with air-tight lid ~1.5" wide opening or bigger for medium
Large container for water
Pizza box or similar to carry wet paintings, optional with acrylic
Lunch Break at the workshop
We learned a lot and had a good time!
Explore the workshop handouts and info
Thanks to Lizzy for handling all the arrangements and to
who attended. A lot of material was covered in two days.
My plan was to expose participants to techniques and methods of picture making.
Not so much 'how to paint' because while putting paint on canvas is important the thinking
and planning that happens before ever picking up a brush is far more important.
original art online is
easy and secure
Use this for multiples of $100
Use this for multiples of $25
There will be a place to add
For $350 enter Quantity 14 for $25 button
BF Jr. Miss
Landscape Portfolio 1
Landscape Portfolio 2
Landscape Portfolio 3
Secret of Painting
Daily Painting Blog
Figurative Portfolio 1
Wild Life Portfolio 1
Still Life Portfolio 1
Digital Portfolio 1
Portrait Portfolio 1
Portrait Portfolio 2
About the Artist