After feeling a bit lost this morning, wanting to do a picture but not knowing what, I decided I needed to try something a bit different. Having invested in a multipack of some decent Reeves acrylics for the Bigger Picture project, and being something of a skinflint, I resolved to have a real stab at seeing what the acrylics could do for me.
I was looking at this as an exercise in trying out the paint and experimenting with colour, rather than concentrating on form and sketching as I often do, so I turned to our photo album for inspiration. Painting from photos isn’t something I do very much, but I admit freely that it can be a relief and a pleasure to paint something which just holds still, and where the light doesn’t change. I came across a picture I took in Venice harbour (ooh, get me!) which I snapped because, between the overly ostentatious yacht moored there and the harbour wall, there was a spectacularly gorgeous section of green water, contrasting attractively with the worn chains and weathered wood. I thought this would give me the colour-focus I was looking for.
I prepared (ably assisted by my husband) a piece of hardboard, as recommended by Mary on her blog, Oil Pastels by Mary. The board measures around 30cm square – I quite like a square format. I chose a large, square blending brush to begin with and, as I’m quite lazy, this was what I ended up using right the way through this picture. Maybe not the best tool for the entire job, but there you go. Sometimes you just get caught up in the moment and forget that other brushes are available…
Sorting out the order of play was really important I think. I know that you can apply acrylics in any order as they’re opaque, so I decided to work from the majority colours down to the more fiddly details last. I started with the bright green water, moving on to the darks, followed by the wooden post. The chains were last to be added. The acrylics did dry quite fast, but not as rapidly as they had done on the mountboard I’d used previously, so there was some wriggle room with adding colour, which was part of the pleasure today.
Because you know what? This was really enjoyable to do. I tried to pick up several colours on the brush at once without mixing on the palette, and this can give some really great results (and some less so). I love the streaks of colour which emerge – and I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last acrylic picture.