In the summer 2016 issue of Acrylic Artist we feature Donne Bitner and take a look at her watercolor-like paintings of invented landscapes and seascapes. We caught up with Bitner to take a closer look at her work New Day Dawning. Here’s what she had to say.
Acrylic Artist: You’ve mastered the ability of creating watercolor-like washes with acrylic. Tell us about your technique.
Donne Bitner: I like to thin the paint with water rather than acrylic medium. After years of painting with watercolor it’s what I gravitate to apparently. That’s what gives my acrylic work a softer, more watercolor-like appearance.
AA: Your acrylic work painted using watercolor techniques has depth and great texture. How do you achieve this?
DB: My treatment of acrylic would look rather flat on a wood surface, so I spend time building a unique surface with depth, before I begin my painting. This acrylic painting on wood has a subsurface of spackling. I am also keen on using gesso, molding paste or joint compound. These materials lend a texture that gives the final work a 3-dimensional quality. I like the rough quality of the final texture.
AA: Do you have to prepare the wood before you can apply the gesso, spackling or compound?
DB: There is no preparation of the wood for these textures; they can be applied straight on the surface. For the joint compound I like to apply it, let it dry and then sand for a soft, smooth surface that still has some texture. Once the texture dries the paint is applied straight away. I think the texture gives the painting another layer of surprise.
AA: Are there special tools you use for applying the subsurface?
DB: No, no special tools are needed. A simple paint spatula will work. It’s like icing a cake. The more raised areas the more texture.
AA: Any words of wisdom you can share with an artist experimenting with gesso, spackling or gesso on wood for the first time?
DB: These materials are fragile and will chip so be sure to clean off edges in the wood. Acrylic medium can be added to make the spackling stiffer, although I never have used it thus far. Every medium has its peculiarities and you need to take the time to work with them and get to know them. This approach, with spackling, is not as indestructible as molding paste but there is a beauty to the paint over the texture that makes the extra care worth it to me.