Hey guys, how are you holding up on your New Year’s resolutions? I had fixed up a few artistic goals for 2017 and am glad to say its looking pretty good till now…here comes the smug smile 😛 . Well, on a more serious note, I have been able to keep up with ‘a piece of art a month’. Also, in order to keep the learning curve up, concentrated on learning and trying out things that I am not really comfortable with. So for this month’s art, getting acquainted and comfortable with acrylic paint a bit more seemed to be a daunting yet good idea. Here’s what followed and hopefully it will offer you that little push required to come out of the rut and enjoy your creative side a bit more.
Treating Acrylic a Tad Differently
Being a self-taught artist, I went through a few tutorials and write-ups on how to use acrylic color. They were really informative. But the upshot was that, though I was quite motivated to create something using this medium, it seemed a bit daunting too. Water color being my favored medium, I am used to applying the least possible layers of color. Also, the luminosity of paper shining through the paint appeals to me. Finally, I decided to have fun with this new medium and treat it like watercolor. After all, sticking to rules or flouting them artistically is everyone’s own prerogative! And you know what? I had fun AND learnt that acrylic works quite well treated like watercolor too!
So, here’s a step-by-step peep into how I used acrylic on canvas to paint a simple weather-beaten boat. Exploring acrylic paint fearlessly has offered me quite a bit of insight into the many positives and attractions of this medium.
Tools of the Trade
- Canvas (pre-stretched and suitable for acrylic color). I am using a 35 x 45 cm cotton canvas board.
- Acrylic colors (of course!). Try to limit your palette to a few selected hues to maintain a cohesive and neat look. Using artist grade paints (though might be a tad more expensive) brings out better results. Here’s my palette for this painting.
- Mixing palette.
- Masking fluid (optional). Depending on your subject matter or the amount of working freedom you want, this can be optional.
- Pencil (preferably 2B).
6 Easy Steps to Acrylic Boat Art
Start off by selecting a not too complicated subject for your painting. I chose to focus on one thing, let it stand out and just provided a bit of context through the background. The boat itself isn’t over-complicated like an 18th century pirate ship. The aim of this artwork was to get a better feel of how acrylic paint works, it’s drying time, luminosity and window of correction work… and this delivered on all those points. Sketch in all the elements of your drawing lightly with a 2B pencil. The line quality of a 2B is dark enough to follow as base work, yet light enough to be hidden by a thin wash later on.
Now, this step may be skipped if you are not planning on keeping a few pristine areas safe for work later on. My subject matter required a few patches of light blue to represent original color of the boat. Yet, the weathered effect had to go around it pretty drastically. As I am not so big on patience and working safely around a few untouched areas, I covered those white patches with rubber masking fluid. Its easy to apply, offers great freedom of brush movement and when you are ready to work on that area, just rub it gently and it rolls off like dried PVC glue on skin.
This is where the fun begins! Put in a light wash of the colors that would serve as base. Remember to use a limited palette and mix ‘n match according to your requirement. Here, I have used cadmium yellow as the base with touches of cadmium red and burnt sienna wherever required. Start working on the background too with light washes if your item in focus is touching considerable amount of elements of the background. Mine is not, so I let it be.
Start adding colors, overlay washes and details to your item in focus. Work towards bringing out the character of your subject matter and filling in all the areas that need to be covered. This is a good time to work on a relatively removed background if you haven’t started already. However, if your background blends into the subject matter, it would be time to start painting in the second layer of details. I agree it doesn’t look much at this stage, but I promise it will ultimately reach there.
I added tints of burnt sienna to sap green and cadmium red to ultramarine at this point for the foreground in order to retain the overall cohesive feel. For the background, a mixture of burnt sienna, ultramarine and cadmium red was used.
At this stage, I peeled out the masked areas. The light blue original paint and some other details on the bow were added as well as more details to the raised back part and interiors of the boat. Start adding in finer details and working on any pristine areas left for highlighting or special treatment.
This is the final step where your artwork comes to life. I used a mixture of burnt sienna, ultramarine and cadmium red to create a dark hue for adding in details, demarcating areas and creating shadows working towards pulling all the elements together. Stand back from your painting time to time and add touches that you think would bring out the ‘feel’ better. Adding in finer details like rusty nails and rot on the hull worked for me.
Remember, ultimately its all about what impressions and emotions you want to convey through the artistic manifestation of your ideas. Hope you found this tutorial helpful…and may be a little motivating to keep creating artworks despite the time crunch that has become so much a part of our lifestyle. Feel free to ask anything in the comments and I would try my best to answer them. I would also love to see how you have used acrylic for your artworks! Have you a style of your own or do you use it the traditional way?
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