Acrylic artist Angus Wilson shares a step-by-step for Acrylic Artist and artistsnetwork.com readers. Wilson’s fragmented and vibrantly colored acrylic work has an impromptu air that belies a deliberate approach. Follow along, step-by-step, as he creates Fruits and Peruvian Lilies on Blue.
The fall 2015 issue of Acrylic Artist features 11 additional paintings by Wilson. Get the issue at NorthLightShop.com and read the feature-length article and see more paintings with the vibrant, bold hues that are a calling card of Wilson’s still life creations.
Step 1 I begin by drawing in the outlines with either charcoal or a watercolor pencil. A watercolor pencil is a great tool with acrylic painting, because you can wash the drawn lines away as you paint. The drawn Cloisonnism outlines are then painted in with a small brush. These beginning stages are vital for the success of the painting. An unusual aspect to my paintings is that every part of the arrangement is on show. There are no ‘lost and found’ elements, which are traditionally the lifeblood of most paintings. The act of defining every element within the painting creates a huge challenge, and both careful composition and smart color choices are essential.
Step 2 I carefully plan the colors of the final painting. I then paint over the whole canvas with either a large brush or scrub in the color with a paper towel. I block in colors that form my under painting. Many artists use under painting to tone the whole canvas or give a color theme or mood to the painting. I, however, use the under painting to create color reactions with what will come next. For example, a green tablecloth may have a red under painting, to create a strong compliment color to react too. Acrylic (if used thickly) is powerful in that each layer of paint sits strongly on top of the last. When I paint later ‘final’ layers of paint, I leave broken patches to let the under painting colors react with the final color. It’s a little like clumsy pointillism.
Step 3 In this stage I have begun to establish some overall final colors. I wanted to establish these key color relationships, so I have darted around the canvas – the tablecloth, the background drape, the pineapple and the foliage have all had base colors dropped in.
Step 4 Less clear to see, but work has been done with whites; the beginning of the Peruvian Lilly flowers. Also the strip of color down the left edge has been painted. This color acts as good transition color between key blues and greens in the painting. You’ll notice, there’s no working front to back, or back to front within my painting. This is partly because the Cloisonnist outlines allow for working anywhere. But also I love to define shapes with negative cutting, as opposed to positive shape creation. I find this method of object defining always creates more interesting and dynamic forms.
Step 5 Foliage and some of the foreground elements have been mostly painted.
Step 6 Now the tablecloth and final colors in the ochre back drape have been added. All areas of the painting are now covered. Beyond this stage it is really a case of tidying up and refining areas of the painting that need altered or rethought. Despite the initial planning, an artist should always be ready to respond and deviate from the original plan if the painting needs it or speaks to them.
Step 7 There have been a number of subtle small changes. Most notably, some of the dark Cloisonnist lines have been restated. Also, some areas have had colors glazed over them, (the floor rug and the tablecloth). Additionally a couple of areas in the ochre backdrop are re-toned.
Final painting – Fruits and Peruvian Lilies Over Blue (acrylic on canvas, 36X24) A myriad of final little tweaks take place, flowers details and shapes are further enhanced, adjustments made to the foliage, details of the pattern on the tablecloth are retoned. The floor rug is also re-colored and glazed again.