Acrylic Landscape 8-Step Demonstration with David Rothermel

“I love laying in the rich, wet paint on a blank surface,” says David Rothermel (featured in The Artist’s Magazine, October 2010). He paints in stages, mainly in the studio, with mixed media. Over the years he’s switched back and forth from watercolor with pastel to oil with resin. Currently he works mostly in acrylic with pastel or in watercolor with pastel. Using water as his medium, he’s found he can use acrylic thick or thin, opaque or transparent. Also, at certain junctures, he can tilt his surface and let acrylic run off the paper; with watercolor, he must instead apply layers of washes. Otherwise, his process is basically the same for both watermedia.

Read on to see his 8-step demonstration of Evening Lights (below; acrylic and pastel, 32×48).

Acrylic Landscape, David Rothermel, Mixed Media, Pastel 1

Evening Lights (acrylic and pastel,32×48) by David Rothermel

David Rothermel, wood panel support for acrylic painting
1. Having organized his materials and taped his 300-lb, 40×60 watercolor paper to a wood panel support, Rothermel brushes the surface with water. The large surface allows him plenty of room to test colors and also to let the paint run past the edges of what will be his finished trim size.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration
2. Working down from the top of the sky, he pours on acrylic paint, one color at a time. The paint is diluted with enough water to create a wash without overly saturating the paper.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration 1
3. After pouring each color, he uses a brush to spread it in a loose band across his surface.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting, mixing colors
4. With the first layer of background color in place, Rothermel tilts his support left to right and right to left, allowing the colors to intermingle, streak and run.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration 2, diluting paint
5. Spraying with water dispels the paint in certain areas, creating the effect of cloud formations, which give him a sense of how to manipulate the light. He may alternate spraying the surface and tilting the support several times.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration, mountains and desert
6. After allowing the background to dry, Rothermel brushes in the mountains and desert with acrylic paint, using water as his medium.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration, texture and highlights
7. When the acrylic paint is dry, he adjusts values and adds texture and highlighting with pastels. This gives the foreground a more detailed appearance. Used sparingly in the mountains and sky, pastels lighten areas and provide accents.


David Rothermel, acrylic painting demonstration, speckling paint
8. After covering the sky and mountains with tissue paper, Rothermel uses a brush to speckle acrylic paint on the desert foreground.


Evening Lights (acrylic and pastel, 32×48) by David Rothermel



Surface: Waterford 300-lb (40×60) sheets

Paint: Golden Liquid acrylics: cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow light and medium, dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, raw umber, Payne’s gray

Brushes: Rothermel buys inexpensive brushes and, when he paints, grabs whatever’s in front of him: 4-to 5-inch house-painting brushes, bevel-edged fitches, synthetic sables, a 1/2-inch hake, and a rigger for detail.

no particlular brand

Read the entire article, “Technicolor Tranquility,” by downloading the October 2010 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Get even more instruction on drawing and painting when you subscribe to The Artist’s Magazine today!

Basic Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques with Mark Mehaffey
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