Acrylic paint has many properties that make it unique and versatile. Acrylic sticks to acrylic, so you can add layer upon layer of paint in a variety of ways. You can paint with acrylic on most porous, non-oily surfaces. You can also paint with oils over acrylics (but not acrylics over oils). Read on for a demonstration of Pods 27 (shown at bottom; acrylic and mixed media, 24×12) by Jacqui Beck, who has been featured in The Artist’s Magazine.
First I painted black gesso onto my canvas and let it dry; then I roughly sketched my design with orange chalk. Next I adhered a variety of papers and fabric with heavy gel medium—for texture and color. The papers show through on the finished painting, as does the black spandex with gold dots in the center pod and the black-and-white zigzag fabric (from an old skirt) going up the left side.
In this step I started blocking in color, using bright colors that appealed to me at the moment—cobalt teal, cadmium orange, cadmium red medium, and tints of quinacridone magenta and quinacridone violet.
I decided after looking at the painting that it needed something to tie it together horizontally, so I added the vine near the bottom. You can see it drawn in chalk.
Here I blocked in more color and the painting started to take form. I used mostly warm colors in the pods and background to create a feeling of energy and life, with some cool accents here and there, and I painted the vine a mossy green.
Notice that some areas still aren’t painted and that I left some fabric and paper showing through. I also allowed some of the black gesso to show at the edges of the shapes to set off the colors.
I made a major change at this late stage—one of the great perks of working with acrylics! I decided that I didn’t like the two pods on the right overlapping, so I repainted them. I also removed the small purple pods at the far right to simplify the design.
To create some sense of depth in this mostly flat painting, I made sure that the vine twists in and out of the pod stems. I also added black gesso on top of the paint around the pods to redefine the edges.
In this last step for Pods 27 (above; acrylic and mixed media, 24×12), I evened out the background by using another layer of paint. I added quinacridone magenta to the mix (cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium and white) to get a rosier color. As I painted around the pods, I repaired edges, leaving a little black showing in some areas.
At the very end, I added a few details, such as the bright dots on the small pod. I also continued the zigzag to the bottom left of the canvas, so the viewer’s eye travels through the painting. As I finish, I check for anything that catches my eye in a way I don’t like, and I continue touching up until there’s nothing left that bothers me and the piece works well as a whole.
Jacqui Beck, of Seattle, Washington, is a full-time artist and art instructor and has worked in many capacities to further the arts, acting as a board member of arts organizations and director of Art for Kids in the Northwest. To see her work, visit www.jacquibeck.com. To read more about Jacqui Beck’s process in the September 2007 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, click here and order your digital copy.