Acrylic-blending Acrylic-watercolor

Acrylic on gessoed canvas and watercolor paper (R)
To enlarge, click image, select All Sizes

(I know this isn’t much to look at, but it’s what I did with my art time today — practiced making soft edges using dry brush, blending with wet-in-wet and other techniques, and painting watercolor-style washes using acrylics thinned down with water and “Acrylic Flow Release.” It’s harder (but not impossible) to make the kinds of beautiful soft edges and blends that can be done easily in oil paints (these samples are neither beautiful nor soft as I’d like, but that’s what practice is for). I was surprised how easy it was to make clean flat washes using acrylics as watercolors.

I’ve just started reading “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting,” originally published in 1929. Even though he’s incredibly opinionated and assumes all artists are men, I’m finding his observations to be really interesting and often astute and applicable today. Here’s a few tidbits from the first chapter, “How to Approach Painting:”

“The art of painting, properly speaking, cannot be taught, and therefore cannot be learned. I believe about art, as I believe about music or architecture, that the only way to study is to practice; and that any good teacher can point out certain intellectual or technical “makings,” certain helps that will give a fulcrum to the lever of practice.”

“No one can teach ‘art.’ No one can give a singer a glorious voice, but granting the voice, and emotional sensibility, a teacher can teach a man to sing…”

“A snapshot is a correct rendition of physical fact…but the camera does not have an idea about the objects reflected upon its lens. It does not ‘feel’ anything, and will render one thing as well as another. This ‘idea,’ or thrill is the unteachable part of all art.”

“The beginner in painting begins by copying nature in all literalness, leaving nothing out and putting nothing in; he makes it look like the place or person or thing. By and by he will learn to omit the superfluous and to grasp the essentials and arrange them into a more power and significant whole. And it is wonderful to know that these ‘essentials’ will be essentials to him only (and herein lies the secret of orginality). Another man will choose another group of essentials out of the same fountain of inspiration.”

These hit home for me, especially the last one. Do you find them interesting? annoying? inspiring? helpful?

Category:
Acrylic Painting, Art theory, Other Art Blogs I Read, Painting
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Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. fantastic. wow. nothing to look at? these colors immediately caught my eye!

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  2. I have to thank you for this post…this is something I need to do too and I think today will tbe D-day!
    Ronell

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  3. My first thought was ‘wow’ and then I read that these are nothing much to look at!! I guess that’s why I take bits of advice like these with a pinch of salt. I don’t find these annoying but very many more, I do, because they tend to affirm only the writer’s view and one size doesn’t fit all in art, there are always exceptions. So many people hold onto quotes but in a way, they too are limiting if you think, OK now I’m doing it right. I see many preachy people whose work doesn’t change when they think they are working in the ‘right’ way even though they claim to be open to new ways.

    Thanks, Jana for your reply on EDM, I found it very helpful.

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  4. Jana, I think these little squares are wonderful. You have so much to let us see in your art.
    Thank-you,Linda

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  5. I love these little squares too – it’s often the practise, not the finished product that’s most interesting to other artists – well, I think they read the process from the finished product – but clear eveidence of the practise/process is very helpful for the less experienced/aspiring artist. The last quote, though already a familiar idea should always be formost in our minds.

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  6. “The only way to study art is to practice” should be handed out to every child at an early age” — I think a really helpful quote. And your colorful little squares just fit it. They certainly instruct and inspire us newbies.

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  7. Essentially I think he’s right, even if he is limiting art to representational work of one kind or another – but yes we do all begin by striving for realism, and once we’ve learnt that then I think the real creativity begins (well that’s my theory anyway!) Wonderful experiemnts up there: glorious like asummer holiday kind of feeling.

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  8. Juicy color!

    I guess it’s true that we each have own own eye on the world, but we also have our own touch, and I think that lends to originality as well.

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  9. Jana,

    These squares are delightful and I saw them in person. I can’t wait to see a painting using those colors and techniques. I like the quotes and find them inspiring.

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  10. I’ve found Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid to be particularly helpful with getting blends with acrylics, and extending open time a bit (moreso than other mediums and additives that I’ve tried.) — not that I’m that good at it — but the first time I used it, it was one of those, “oh, wow, this makes things much easier” kind of moments. If you haven’t already, give it a try.

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  11. I think it was just the style of writing at the time…I don’t believe he thought all artists were men, it’s just the way ‘man’ was referred to. A gender neutral pronoun. Great quotes though, they make me want to get a copy of this book.

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    • It really is a fantastic book–a must read for anyone interested in landscape painting. And I’m sure you’re right, that everyone was referred to as men back then, but it was so non-inclusive of women. Jana

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    • Where male is the default human, “man” is not a gender-neutral pronoun. It is the product of, and perpetuates, male supremacy.

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