Though I paint all kinds of subjects, I?m happiest when the warm weather comes and I can head out on location to paint the landscape. Nature, someone said, is the greatest teacher. If I?m paying attention out there, I can constantly learn new things about light and atmosphere and the effect they have on the landscape. But perhaps the most important lesson to learn from going out to paint day after day is that in order to capture those transient effects, we need an efficient way of working. That means we need a medium that?s versatile, fast and flexible to use, such as that most adaptable of paints—acrylic.
I don?t like to be rushed during the “idea” phase of a painting session. Sometimes I walk around a site for half an hour before settling down and hatching an idea. Even then, my commitment to the idea may take more time to solidify.
When I have my underpainting, I proceed to overpaint by doing whatever?s necessary to arrive at the final value, color, texture and degree of modeling that each area requires. Finish and detail work are often taken care of along the way in this stage, although there usually is a point toward the end when my thinking clicks over into finishing mode. That?s when I begin looking for things that attract too much attention, don?t attract enough, or in some other way need a little fine-tuning.
Grab some acrylic paints, get outdoors and see for yourself what fun you can have. Also notice how good your results can be. The freedom you?ll get from working en plein air with a quick-drying medium like acrylics will expand your painting opportunities like nothing else, and you?ll be ready to take advantage of inspiration whenever it hits you.
Loraine Crouch is associate editor for The Artist?s Magazine.