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Welcome to the Daily Acrylic
The Mission: Learn to Paint with Acrylic Paint.
The Duration: Wednesday, February 17th 2010 - Thursday, February 17th 2011.
The Method: Paint one acrylic painting* every day.
*See rules for more details.
The Budget: $550*
*See materials for current budget.
I want to learn how to paint with "analog" paints. I'm making a commitment to paint a painting every day for a year. There will be good paintings, bad paintings, and plenty of ugly paintings, but in the end I expect to have a much better grasp on painting.
This thread will be used to document my journey. I'll try to update it each day, not only with the painting I did, but with some insight into what I learned that day.
Introduction and News - You are here.
The Archive – Links to the paintings I've done.
Rules and Details - How I am going about doing this, as well as my lists for painting ideas.
Materials - What I've learned about paint.
Technique – What I've learned about painting.
Last edited by sketchius; February 17th, 2010 at 12:12 AM.
<Reserved for Archive>
Rules and Details
There is only one rule: I must paint a painting every day.
- I may choose to continue work on a previous painting in lieu of starting on a new one.
- If and only if I find myself with limited time or without access to my painting materials, I can do a drawing instead of a painting.
I am currently working 38 hours per week, so I'm going to squeeze in painting when I can. Some days I'll be able to paint for several hours, and other days making time to paint will be difficult.
I will set a minimum painting time per day of one hour.
Any painting surface I can think of is allowed. I plan on using cheap board, masonite, canvas board, cardboard, etc. I want most of my budget to go into paints and mediums.
Although my primary focus is going to be acrylic paints, I will also be heavily experimenting with colored pencil and airbrush. I want to find how to best combine these mediums with acrylic. I may also use watercolor, gouache, or oil paint on occasion.
Any subject is allowed. Any painting style is allowed.
I've written some lists of painting ideas to keep this interesting and avoid painter's block. The lists correspond to days of the week or month. This gives me several idea options to choose from each day. I can choose one of the ideas, try to combine some of them, take an idea from another day, or just come up with a new idea for the day. I don't expect myself to adhere to these lists.
I'm including these here in part because I thought people might find them useful. I plan to somehow rotate the day of the week lists so that its not the same topics each day every week. I may expand on these options as time goes one.
The Idea Lists:
Option 1 (Day of the Week 1): Reference Usage
Monday – Paint with the combined data from two or more references
Tuesday – Paint completely from the imagination.
Wednesday – Paint completely from a photo reference.
Thursday – Paint non-objectively (i.e. abstractly).
Friday – Paint completely from observation.
Saturday – Paint from the imagination, using a reference for specific details.
Sunday – Paint from a reference, using the imagination for specific details.
Option 2 (Day of the Week 2): Materials Challenges
Monday – Paint over a heavily-textured ground.
Tuesday – Paint using only unusual painting tools. (i.e., fork, fingers, sponge, eraser, etc.).
Wednesday – Paint using only a huge brush or a tiny brush.
Thursday – Paint using masks to create edges. (i.e. cut-out paper, curve guides, airbrush masks, etc.)
Friday – Paint using only thin glazes of tube colors.
Saturday – At set intervals (i.e. 5 minutes or 10 minutes) chose and cover up a small part of the painting (10-20%) with a piece of paper. These parts are “off-limits” for further painting. Continue until all of the painting is covered, then remove all of the paper.
Sunday – Paint using only a fan brush or other specialty brush, or a palette knife.
Option 3 (Day of the Week 3): Color Matching
Using a print out or a photograph as a reference, attempt to mix the exact colors you see, being sure to investigate highlight and shadow colors as well as any other interesting variations.
Monday – Free choice.
Tuesday – Saturated colors.
Wednesday – Landscape tones.
Thursday – Colors from a master painting.
Friday – Still life objects.
Saturday – Caucasian flesh tones.
Sunday – Non-Caucasian flesh tones.
Option 4 (Day of the Week 4): Color Palette / Color Relationships
Monday – Two color complimentary + white palette.
Tuesday – Saturated colors only.
Wednesday – Three color limited palette. (Pick a color each to represent red, yellow, and blue)
Thursday – Monochromatic palette. (1 color + a neutral black + white)
Friday – Triadic palette.
Saturday – Earth tones only.
Sunday – Analogous palette.
Option 5 (Day of the Week 5): Stylistic
Monday – Impressionistic (Broad brush-strokes to capture the essence objects)
Tuesday – Minimalist (Trying to capture the subject with as few brush strokes as possible)
Wednesday – Highly Rendered and Detailed (i.e. Yan Van Eyck)
Thursday – Cartoon or Comic Book Style (Outlines, solid colors, simple shading)
Friday - Academic (Careful focus on lighting and modeling forms)
Saturday – Very sketchy, but focusing in tightly on important parts.
Saturday – Expressionistic (Trying to capture a particular mood or feeling)
Option 5 (Day of the Month 1): Specific Prompt
1 – Paint a scene of a character or character who are clearly of a specific profession.
2 – Paint a famous person.
3 – Paint a mammal, amphibian, or reptile.
4 – Paint a landscape from observation or reference.
5 – Paint the subtleties of an interesting texture.
6 – Paint a scene that is filled with tension, conflict, action, or energy.
7 – Paint a self portrait or a portrait of a friend/family member.
8 – Paint an insect or spider.
9 – Paint an interior scene or a cityscape.
10 – Paint a study of drapery.
11 – Paint a scene that is dormant, peaceful, or relaxed.
12 – Paint a person from a verbal/written description given by someone else.
13 – Paint an alien or imaginary animal.
14 – Paint a skyscape or starscape.
15 – Paint the subtleties of glass, smoke, fire, water, lava, luminescence, etc.
16 – Paint a character that is exhibiting a particular emotion.
17 – Paint a character from a movie or book.
18 – Paint a bird or water-dwelling animal.
19 – Paint an environment that is overgrown with flora.
20 – Paint a human anatomical study.
21 – Paint a scene of great victory or defeat.
22 – Paint a character from the imagination.
23 – Paint a plant.
24 - Paint an industrial, cyberpunk, steampunk, or space-colony environment.
25 – Paint an illustration of a scene from a recent dream.
26 – Paint a vehicle, weapon, gadget, etc.
27 – Paint a stranger from a photo reference.
28 – Paint an extinct or mythological creature.
29 – Paint a fantasy, romantic, or american frontier-style painting.
30 – Paint a highly exaggerated portrait of a person, animal, or object.
31 – Paint a traditional still-life.
Last edited by sketchius; February 20th, 2010 at 02:00 PM.
Dick Blick Order 2/15/10....-$280.93
My current collection of acrylics.
Winsor and Newton Artist' Acrylics*: Quinacridone Magenta, Pyrolle Red, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Lemon Yellow, Pthalo Green Blue Shade, Pthalo Blue Green Shade, Ultramarine Blue, Mixing White, Davy's Grey and Mars Black.
* This is a fairly recent line from W&N which claims to have a longer open time, reduced color shift, and a satin finish.
I also have Buff Titanium and Olive Green from Winsor and Newton's older Finity acrylic series.
I've ordered a shipment of Golden Heavy Body Acrylics, including both new colors and colors I already have in W&N. I want to be able to directly compare the two brands. I'm also getting a starter set of Golden's Open Acrylics. I'm looking forward to trying them. They stay wet for much longer than regular acrylics, allowing for wet on wet techniques.
Before I ordered my W&N colors I was using mostly Liquitex Basic Acrylics. I didn't like these so much because they had too much of a plastic finish to them. So far, W&N acrylics seem to look much better when they dry.
Last edited by sketchius; February 16th, 2010 at 08:47 PM.
Last edited by sketchius; February 17th, 2010 at 12:10 AM.
Day 1 - Self Portrait
For my first painting, I wanted to take a stab at a real paint version of self portrait I've done digitally.
I started off with a graphite sketch on a wood panel, which went pretty well.
When my sketch was done, I tried brushing the board with a water/retarder mix. I thought maybe it would help keep the paint I put on the board wet. It didn't work very well. The first strokes of paint got watered down too much, and then the board dried up pretty quickly.
The painting went okay. My main struggle right now is managing the paint on the palette. I mixed a flesh color to begin with and tried to branch off into other colors from that, but it wasn't working and I ended up mixing small independent piles that kept drying up too fast. I found that I kept having to mix the same color over and over. Since I'm not incredibly great at mixing colors yet, I had a hard time getting them consistent. Anyway, I think it turned out okay in the end. The main lesson I learned was probably that I need to exercise more control over my palette. Maybe next time I'll try to mix my main colors ahead of time so I can just focus on painting. I kept my initial flesh tone under plastic wrap which kept it wet the entire time.
Here's the finished painting. I spent about 2.5 hours on this one.
Also, one other issues I was having was trying to figure out how to digitize the painting. I tried my scanner at first, but it caused some value discrepancies because of how the scanner light shone on matte vs glossy surfaces of the painting. So I ended up taking it with my digital camera, which isn't the greatest in the world.
2.18.10 Additional Thoughts
One thing I think I need to focus on with my palette is keeping my paint unified into voluminous blobs. Since paint dries from the outside in, minimizing the exposed surface area will minimize drying. I have a tendency to spread out my paint mixtures too much. Also, I've ordered a Masterson Sta-Wet Palette that might help with this issue. I'll post a review of it as soon as I get a chance to try it.
Last edited by sketchius; February 18th, 2010 at 02:35 PM.
Day 2 - Bird Painting, Figure Painting
This is a quick sketch of a bird.
I feel like this went went mediocre. I was trying to combine the body and pose of a bird from one reference with the coloration of a bird from another reference.
Again, I ended up with some palette issues. I always seem to either put down way too much paint or way too little paint. I guess this is something that will come with experience. I was so caught up in messing with my paints that I don't think I considered the light/shadow as well as I could have. I think it might have helped to start with a tinted background and build up a fell layers of glazes before I jumped in with the opaque paint.
The other issue is that I feel like my sky color is a little off. I'll have to do some environmental color matching and see what I did wrong.
I also did this painting at a life drawing session. It was a half-hour pose. I mixed the paint ahead of time. I feel like this one went a little smoother than other paintings, perhaps because I started with more paint on my palette. Though I ended up with more leftover (wasted) paint in the end, it freed me up to focus on the painting itself.
Day 3 - Landscape Overgrown with Flora
This one didn't turn out too great, but I did learn a few things on the way.
First of all, the things that went wrong:
The value structure is horrible. Some areas are way too light and the shadows need to be darker. A simple levels adjustment in photoshop immediately makes it look a lot better:
The other problem is, plain and simple, lack of experience. While I used some references for the plants, I was came up with the landscape from my imagination. I simply don't have the experience under my belt to invent this sort of content effectively. So, I'll have to practice painting some landscapes from observation or reference.
Now, on to the good part: what I learned.
I did a relatively detailed underdrawing this time, complete with white colored pencil for highlights. This made starting the painting a lot easier. I had some Luquitex Glazing Medium laying around that I hadn't used in a while. Wow. I was amazed at how much I can extend my paints with this stuff. Extending means that you're increasing the volume of paint without compromising the opacity. It generally took a lot of glazing medium to actually thin the paint down enough to glaze with it.
Which leads to another thing I learned: Doing a glaze over my underdrawing helped considerably when it came to starting the painting. Just going in with opaque paints covers up my underdrawing too quickly and I start to get confused about what I'm doing.
Some words of warning about these topics, though:
- Too much glazing medium seems to ruin the consistency and surface quality of the paint. It just turns into tinted gel that tends to build up on either side of the brush-stroke. I suspect that after a certain point of adding the glazing medium, adding water is going to have a better result.
- When I put on a glaze it's usually because I want to change the hue of a certain areas, but it's easy to forget that a glaze with also alter the value and saturation. So it's just good to be conscious of the target surface color when mixing a glaze.
In other news, my Dick Blick shipment should be arriving today! Hurray!
Day 4 - Police Officer
Yay! I got my order in from Dick Blick. I have a lot of shiny new toys to try out. Over the next few weeks I'm going to post my experience using these products.
For today I painted a police officer. I did a graphite sketch over one of my new speedball gessoed boards. I tried to do some glazing/washing, but I was having trouble figuring out how to make a good glaze for a slippery substrate. Anyway, it went pretty well, I suppose. For the flesh, I tried mixing a basic flesh tone with some Golden Fine Pumice Gel, which adds a bit of texture/tooth to the surface. I was then able to make some marks on top with colored pencil. I'll have to mess with the process a bit. I was pretty rough this time around.
My next step is going to be to figure out how to glaze properly over gessoed board!
Day 5 - Victory WIP
Here's a scene I'm working on of the aftermath of a battle. Sorry about the crappy picture--I had to take it with my cell phone. I've finished doing an underpainting of glazes. This is a work in progress. I'll post an update tomorrow.
Last edited by sketchius; February 23rd, 2010 at 02:19 AM.
I tested the glazing capability of several mediums in order to figure out what works best to glaze over a non-absorbant surface.
The mediums I tried were water, GOLDEN Regular Gel (Gloss), GOLDEN Molding Paste, GOLDEN Polymer Gel, Liquitex Glazing Fluid, and Liquitex Matte Medium. I diluted paint in each of the mediums at three different ratios: a small amount of medium, a large amount of medium (about 1:1), an excessive amount of medium.
Water didn't work at all. It failed to decrease the opacity of the paint. At higher concentrations, the mixture just turned into a water droplet and resisted attempts to spread it over the surface.
GOLDEN Regular Gel (Gloss) worked okay at lower concentrations, but at high concentrations it had a poor consistency, causing the mixture to "gel out" along the sides of the brushstroke.
GOLDEN Molding Paste made a pretty good glaze at high concentrations, though it did tend to lighten the mixture a bit.
GOLDEN Polymer Gel and Liquitex Glazing Fluid seem to be roughly the same type of product. They look and behave almost identically, the only differences being that the Polymer gel was a bit more fluid and had a distinctive smell to it. Both of these products made great glazes at lower concentrations. At high concentrations they gelled out a little bit and dried to a resinuos, glossy finish that I didn't particularly like.
GOLDEN Matte Medium didn't work very well. Like the Molding Paste, it tended to lighten the mixture, and it only made a sufficient glaze at high concentrations.
I feel like the best glazing medium might be a combination of these products. I'm going to do more tests in the future to see if that is the case.
Day 6 - Victory Update
I didn't have a whole lot of time to work on it today. Worked on the sky from some sunset references and went in with some more glazes. I tried to indicate a shadow across the ground, but it's not looking very accurate right now.
While I feel this painting is going alright, it has made me realize several things that I need to work on:
- My glazes ended up a bit splotchy. Also, often times they end up too opaque and obscure my underdrawing too much. I need to continue experimenting with glazing mixtures and application techniques.
- My details sometimes get lost. I think I could benefit from working a lot larger. As it is this piece is about the size of a piece of printer paper.
- References, references, references. I LOVE working from my imagination, but I need to concede that I could use more references in my process. Frankly, looking at this painting, I feel that it is haphazard and uninspired. The clothing is boring, the landscape is confusing, the perspective seems off, the poses are unnatural. For this reason I'm starting my own reference library. I want to have all sorts of visual information at my fingertips.
So I have a lot of work to do. But that's good, right?
I'm not sure if I'll continue working on this tomorrow. I feel like I need to get the whole glazing thing under control first.
Also--I need to find a better solution for digitizing my paintings. They tend to look really crappy to me when I scan them. I think it's just cause the values are off due do the scanner's light being at the same angle as its camera, thus creating some unwanted specularity in various areas. Unfortunately, my digital camera died, so my only two options right now are scanner or cell phone camera.
Day 7 - Armor Study
I was pretty busy today and had a massive headache, but I did this armor study before bed.
I have a painting to put up later, but more importantly, I'm realizing that I need to re-evaluate my system a bit.
So, I'm going to focus on doing this a bit differently from here on out. I'm going to work larger, with more paint on my palette. I'm going to spend several days, or even weeks, on each project. I feel like I'm getting burnt out too quickly doing these small, quick studies. I just don't have the experience handling the paint yet in order to work like that. I think longer projects will give me an opportunity to be more comfortable.
That means that I'm not necessarily going to paint every day. Some days I will spend gathering references, doing compositional and color sketches, and/or working on a strong underdrawing.
We'll see if it works any better.
Last edited by sketchius; February 25th, 2010 at 05:27 PM.
Just a quick update, I'm working on a longer project that is about 18 x 24. I've pretty much completed the underdrawing and I'll begin painting tomorrow.