Painting With Acrylic Paint on Different Surfaces
Since their invention in the 50s, Acrylic paints have dramatically gained in popularity. What makes acrylics so attractive is the seemingly unending number of different ways in which you can use them.
Benefits of Acrylic Paint
Acrylics can be used to achieve a variety of effects, from the heavily textured canvass achieved by oil paint, to the light and airy translucency of watercolors. They are not as expensive as oil paints and dry quicker, allowing the artist to apply multiple layers of paint without long waiting times in between, dramatically reducing the time it takes to complete a piece.
On top of that, Acrylics can be applied to almost any surface: traditional canvas, paper, wood, fabric, metal, glass, plastic, stone, leather and more. Before you start painting, most surfaces need to be prepared so that your Acrylic colors go on smoothly and stay bright and looking like new for a long time. Here are some basics on choosing and preparing different types of surfaces for use with most Acrylic paints:
How to Prepare Surfaces for Acrylic Painting
The most popular type of traditional canvas among artists is cotton. It is durable and provides a smooth texture for your paints. Synthetic canvas is best when you want the smoothest texture. It is exceptionally strong and in particular resistant to the slight corrosiveness of the acrylic medium. Jute can also be used, it is low-priced and provides a unique texture desired in certain works.
Canvas is now sold in most art-stores ready to used, primed and stretched over wooden frames, or glued securely onto a hard cardboard backing. When using raw canvas, however, you must prepare it before use.
Stretch the canvas over a wooden frame so that it is firm, but not too tight. Stretching it too tight may warp the frame and decrease the flexibility of the canvas when drying paint shrinks on it. Staple the canvas in place. Paint a few even coats of gesso to prime the canvas after stretching.
There are different kinds of paper that can be used for Acrylics. Most paper will be labeled specifically for the medium it was intended to be used with. Bristol Board, for example, is designed specifically for use with Acrylics and doesn’t need any preparation.
Generally, heavier weight paper is recommended as it will be less likely to warp while painting. Tape the edges of your paper to a flat surface with masking tape, as you would when working with watercolors, to prevent it from warping when wet.
Wood provides steady and long-lasting support for acrylic paints and most woods have excellent paint-absorbency properties. Use hardwoods in favor of pressboard or plywood, as these softer varieties have a tendency to lose their shape over time. Before you paint on wood, purchase some coarse and some fine sand-paper. Sand the surface of the wood, if necessary, with the coarser sand-paper until it is smooth.
Apply a coat of gesso using wide, even brush strokes all running in the same direction. Allow the gesso to dry before lightly sanding it to smoothness with the fine sand-paper. Apply another coat of gesso with the brushstrokes running perpendicular to the previous coat. Repeat the process, sanding in between each coat, until the surface is smooth and even.
Acrylics can usually be applied directly to a great variety of fabrics such as cotton, felt, silk, velvet, and flannel, but cotton provides the most even and easiest to work with surface.
Wash the fabric before painting to remove lint and any oils or chemicals that may interfere with the paint. Lightly stretch the fabric out for more comfortable painting. Mix some Fabric Medium or Flow-Aid Medium with your paint prior to painting for best results.
Tip: Always test your acrylics on a small square of the fabric before you begin painting to ensure the fabric is compatible with the paint and the colors achieve the desired effect.
Acrylics do not naturally adhere well to very smooth shiny surfaces so if the metal is highly polished, use heavy-duty sandpaper to sand it until it is matte and slightly rough to the touch. If you have the means, you can also use sandblasting for a more uniform effect. A diluted lye solution will work on Aluminum to create a more workable surface.
Once you’ve achieved the right texture, clean and degrease the surface. Apply gesso or an industrial primer, allow it to completely dry and do a test to make sure paint adheres properly.
A glass surface can be made rougher with sandblasting, or it can be acid-etched in order to achieve the necessary roughness for the paint to grip. Clean and degrease the surface and apply an industrial primer or gesso. Let it dry and test for adhesion the same way as with metal. For best results, use a few thin coats of varnish to seal the paint and prevent scratches.
Plastic should be lightly sanded with fine-grade sandpaper until it feels slightly rough under the fingers to allow the paint to grip. When painting on clear plastic, use clear gesso or varnish to prime the surface. Seal the painting with varnish once complete to prevent from an accidental scraping of the paint.
Thoroughly clean the surface; ensure it is free of any grease, wax, oil, dirt or loses particles. Ensure that the surface is completely dry, and in the case of using a concrete block, that there are no silicones in its mixture.
Evenly rub a gel medium into the surface and allow it to dry if desiring less texture for your painting. Use transparent gel when the desired effect is for the stone surface to lightly show through the paints. Apply a few coats of gesso for a matte look.
Painting on suede is the same as on any other fabric; use a flow-aid medium to help the pain go on evenly. Other types of leather must be first decreased to prevent Acrylics from peeling. Rub the surface thoroughly with alcohol to remove oils and dirt from the surface. Once finished, use a spray-on varnish to protect the paint.
How to Test Adhesion in Acrylic Paint
When working with new and unusual surfaces, it is always a good idea to perform an adhesion test before continuing with the majority of your work. To perform the test, choose a small area of the new surface you are testing, prepare it in an appropriate manner and apply the paint to the surface. Let the paint dry thoroughly.
Wait 72 hours, or longer if the humidity in the atmosphere is high, for the paint to fully set. Score the surface in a cross-hatch pattern with a sharp object and firmly apply some masking tape over the scored surface. Slowly remove the masking tape. If any paint comes off, then you may wish to try a different priming method, or a different surface altogether.
The Art of Impressionism
How Impressionism Changed the Art World
|In 1857 Camille Pissarro ended the period of dreary, lackluster art and ushered in a time of paintings with freshly lit landscapes and bright dashes of color. Joined by such noted artists as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, they created what was dubbed by critic Louis Leroy as Impressionism, inspired by the title of Monet’s work, Impression, Sunrise.
Impressionism is defined by its creators as poetic forms in landscape and life. And this is exactly what they achieved. With chopping strokes and the suppression of defined line with dull, unfocused edges, the Impressionists attempted to mimic the spontaneity of a sketch. They wanted their viewer’s mind to finish the painting.
Though they had different specialities, the Impressionists strove to capture small moments in time. The subjects of Impressionism were passing scenes such as ladies fanning themselves, dancers on stage, picnics, and horse races. Another subject loved by the Impressionists was glimpses of nature such as the wind rustling leaves, the reflection of light on water, or waves crashing against a rock.
The Impressionists rocked the boat further by moving out of the studio, something that was previously not done. En plein air, or outdoor painting, became these artists’ favorite way to paint. They believed that by painting outside they would be better able to observe their subjects in natural light.
As you can see by Renoir’s Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette, light is almost a character in the painting. On the happy people are dapples of light filtered through tree branches. It is the first thing you notice, and the last.
One of the interesting techniques that the Impressionists used was varying the angles of their subject. As you can see in Monet’s La Promenade the viewer is looking up at the subject from the ground.
Because of bad eyesight, Pissarro was not able to work out in the open air after 1897. He solved this problem by renting rooms throughout Paris and painting what he saw from the windows. This provided him with a God-like view over the city, which he portrayed in paintings such as Boulevard Montmartre, morning, cloudy weather. Like Monet’s La Promenade, the angle was contrary to the straight-on views of other painter of the time.
As you can imagine, the Impressionists stirred the art world into a fevered pitch. Many “traditionalists” hated the new movement, calling it a disgrace. Even so, beauty has triumphed, and from then on the painter’s art has influenced everything from music to poetry, changing the art world forever.
How to Draw Realistic Faces for Portrait Painting
Some portrait artists find that they know the basics of drawing faces, but the just don’t look that real. Why? It’s all in the details. These face drawing tips, below, will help give the artist the tools needed to create realistic face drawings for portrait paintings that dazzle.
The eyes are the most important part of the face. If the portrait artist doesn’t put enough detail into the eyes then the whole portrait will look stiff.
The best way to get good at drawing eyes is for the artist to study his own in the mirror. Here is what to look for:
- Notice how your tear ducts are like little pink seeds in the corners of the eyes.
- Notice that the iris is not just a circle of color in a circle of white, but several circles of different colors, with specks of color within those.
- Take a look at how the eyelashes aren’t all the same length and are longer in the middle than on the edges.
The artist should sketch these details while observing them and then can then apply what she observes in future eye drawing or painting.
The nose is infamous for being the hardest facial feature to draw. Once again, the artist can study his own in the mirror and practice sketching it. Remember these facts for every sketch or nose drawing:
- The contours of the nose usually flow into the beginning of the eyebrow bone.
- The width of the nose, from nostril to nostril is usually as wide as the width of space between the eyes.
- The nostrils are not simply holes in the base of the nose, but curves of flesh that are connected to the upper part of the lip.
There are a few basic things to remember when drawing or painting a realistic mouth.
- The line in the inner edge of the lips is always the darkest in color.
- The outer edge of the lip shouldn’t be a hard edge; it should be shaded area to define the shape.
- Lips are not perfectly smooth; they have lines and wrinkles just like the rest of the face.
Once you combine all of these tips together, you will have a much more realistic drawing of the face.
5 Ways to Sell Artwork
There’s more to selling artwork than selling a painting on a canvas. An artist’s work can be transformed into many different products that can easily be created and sold through a website or at art shows or galleries. Adding extra products can mean more money for the artist and more uses for fantastic paintings and drawings. Plus, if the artist adds a web address or phone number to the product, it also can act as a publicity tool for the artist.
Making Art Postcards to Sell
Art postcards can be made by hand or printed. Some artists buy blank postcards made from watercolor paper and then paint one-of-a-kind art on them. This can take a lot of time, so many artists will have postcards mass-printed with a digital image of an already created piece of art. To learn more about creating art postcards read: How to Make Postcards for Your Art.
Creating Customized T-Shirts that Feature Artwork
T-shirts printed with a digital copy of artwork is a good way to allow fans to share a piece without shelling out a large amount of money. For most artists, printing handmade customized t-shirts isn’t an option. Luckily, there are sites, such as Zazzle and Cafe Press, which allow artists to upload art images to the site and apply the images to products such as t-shirts. On many of these sites, the customized t-shirt isn’t made until a customer orders it and there is no cost to the artist. The artist gets royalties from each sale, much like selling artwork at a gallery.
Illustrating Magazine Covers
Many artists think that magazines only use in-house illustrators for their magazine covers. While this may be true about some of the larger magazines, many small magazines use submitted art for covers. To find magazines that allow submissions, search the web using terms such as “illustration submissions,” “cover submissions,” and “artist guidelines.”
Create Greeting Cards
Greeting card companies, like magazine publishers, are looking for good art, too. When pitching to greeting card companies, artists should avoid selling all rights to their artwork. This would mean that the artist wouldn’t be able to use or sell that painting or drawing anywhere else.
To avoid these type of problems, the artist can have their own greeting cards printed using their original art. Some online places to get custom greeting cards printed are Print Place, CardStore or CardsDirect.
Selling Digital Images
If adding artwork images to products doesn’t sound too exciting, an artist also has the option of selling usage rights to the digital image of the original artwork. There are sites, such as Constant Content and Associated Content, which helps artists sell usage rights for images. The artist has the option to sell full usage rights for the image (not suggested) or allowing others to use the artwork (on websites, in magazines, etc.) for a fee.
If an artist adds just a couple of these art selling tips to their publicity strategy, they can increase their visibility and add to their income.
Oil Painting as a Relaxing Hobby
Painting as a hobby can be a very satisfying and relaxing form of recreation. The hobby of oil painting or watercolor painting can help balance your life, especially if you are in a high-stress occupation or position. Winston Churchill had the fate of the world in his hands during the heady days of World War II, yet he found the time to paint, in fact, it helped him to relax and gave him an outlet that had nothing to do with politics or the problems of the world. Start painting.
But I’m not talented.
Baloney! People always say, “I can’t draw a straight line.” So what? Painting is not about drawing a straight line. It’s not even about drawing or painting anything accurately. Its more about how you’re feeling. Its more about what you might express if you had a brush in your hand. Just pick one up, dip it into a color that appeals to you and dab it on, swirl it around, jab it and swish it. Just paint and don’t worry if its art or not. Art will come later. Right now lets paint.
Painting in the great outdoors.
Painting scenes from nature is a great way to to combine creativity with the outdoors. It even has a name. In the art world its called “plein air,” a fancy French name for “in the open air.” It was the way the Impressionists painted. They had to get those brushstrokes down before the light changed, so there wasn’t a lot of time for details, just a quick impression, just the essence of the scene.
Of course you can always finish your painting when you get back home. Watercolor painting is a good way to get a scene rendered quickly, and watercolors dry faster than oils so you won’t have to worrry about carrying around a wet canvas. You’ll also need a portable easel. Of course, if you don’t like strangers watching you work, this kind of painting is not for you.
Painting from your imagination or a photograph.
You can always set up a small studio in a spare room or garage. Near a window is perfect for the natural light, but strategically placed lamps with special bulbs that mimic the light of the sun will also do. And painting a scene from your imagination or a photograph gives you all the time in the world to paint until your work pleases you. If you’re interested in portraits, sit in front of a mirror and start with yourself. Get the hang of the human face before you ask your neighbors to pose for you. So what are you waiting for? Start painting!
How to Choose an Art Medium
A visit to the art supply store to buy art medium and supplies may be a tad too overwhelming for a beginner artist. Since investing in quality art supplies such as paints and pastels requires a sizeable investment, it is imperative that new artists should choose the medium they will enjoy working with. To figure this out, there are several factors, such as easy clean-up, portability and desired results that should be considered.
Art Supplies for the On-the-Go Artist
New artists that like to create art in different locations or in the spur of the moment need art media that travel well and are easy to clean up. For this type of artist, colored pencils, watercolors or graphite are the best choices.
Colored pencils and graphite easily fit into a backpack along with a pencil sharpener, eraser and a sketchbook, so they can go anywhere, fast. Watercolors can be purchased in small, travel friendly pans, they dry quickly and clean up with water, making them the number one paint choice for plein air art and traveling artist.
For beginning artists that dream of painting the next masterpiece, of course paints are the obvious medium option, but there are many types of paint to choose from. Here is a breakdown of the most common artist paints:
- Oil Paint- Oil paints are slow drying; this means that mistakes can be easily corrected. They have a creamy feel and can be layered numerous times. To learn more about oil paints read Oil Painting Tips and Terms.
- Acrylic Paints- Acrylics are water based paints that dry quickly and clean up with soap and water. This medium can easily mimic watercolor and oil paints simply by adding more or less water. To learn more about acrylic painting read Acrylic Painting for Beginners.
- Watercolor Paints- This is the fastest dying paint. These paints come in two types: transparent and opaque. Watercolor artist like this painting medium because it is often unpredictable and it can be layered to create luminescent images.
Painting with Dry Media
Many new artists think that paintings must be done with wet media. Not true. There are several types of dry art media that are used for painting, such as:
- Soft Pastel- Soft pastel is pure pigment mixed with binders and molded into sticks. Pastel can be layered to create various effects that mimic wet media.
- Oil Pastels- This type of pastel leaves rich strokes that look like oil paints. They can also be layered or used in conjunction with wet media.
Dry media painting is a good choice for the artist that likes drawing, but wants to create painterly pieces.
Most artists will find that one or two media fit well with a certain style depending on its characteristics. Considering the uses of each art medium is a good way for new artists to choose a direction in fine art.