thinning acrylics and dark side of the water

To manipulate the texture and the flow of the acrylics you will have to thin them at some point. My recommendation is to use water or mediums to thin the acrylics.
Let’s start with water. Here is something important you should know. When using water, the mixing proportion should not exceed 30% ratio – 70% paint and 30% water. Here is why. When canvas is dry and water has evaporated, paint molecules will bind together and stick to the canvas. If the there is too much water, the molecules will be too far apart to bind after water evaporates. This means that paint will not stick firmly to canvas and may peel off with time. Now, this rule applies only to the primed canvas. If you are using raw canvas or any other surface that can easily absorb water, then go ahead and use any ratio you want. Well absorbing fibers will keep paint in place.
Airbrush medium is another substance that is used to thin acrylics. Airbrush medium consists of clear acrylic paint and flow aid. This product will be safe to use in any ratio.
There are other mediums and gels that can be used to thin or substitute paint; it all depends on the purpose and final result. Gels and mediums deserve the separate article.
So go ahead and experiment. Just keep in mind the dark side of the water and use the right ratio.
Have fun!

magic of the painting pouring technique

As we briefly discussed methods of thinning acrylics, I thought I’d introduce you to the pouring painting technique. I used this technique to create paintings “Alive”, “Wonderland”, and “Amarantine”.  All can be found in my Facebook gallery that you can access from the home page.  I find the pouring technique fun and most unpredictable. It has major potential and it will take your creativity to the next level.  It might even discover something new in you.  Either way, I guarantee, it will be one of your most favorite techniques.

What is pouring painting technique? Pouring painting technique requires you to pour paint on the canvas. You can use containers, cups, bottles…etc.  You can also dip a stick or large brush in to the paint and let paint drip on canvas, but this would be called drip painting technique or Jackson Pollock technique.

Let’s get back to pouring. In order to be able to pour acrylics, you will have to thin them first.  In my previous post I mentioned that you can use water (30/70 ratio – water/ acrylic), airbrush medium or flow aid. Comparing to water I would go with airbrush medium, you can use any ratio with it to control consistency of paint; where with water 30 % may not be enough to make your thick acrylics flow. All depends on what kind of acrylic you are using.  Thinning will only apply to thick acrylics like student grade, artist, and professional acrylics. You can also use craft acrylics that are already thinned. However, I do not recommend it, as there is way too much water in craft acrylics; overuse of paint will cause cracking of paint when fully dried.

Before starting this fun process I suggest watching couple of YouTube videos to get an idea of the technique and inspiration.

Get started.  You will need: old clothes or apron to cover clothes, gloves, plastic cups, newspaper, paint, water or airbrush medium/ flow aid, and TIME.  Time is extremely important ingredient in this pouring technique recipe.  Availability of time in this case would be directly proportional to the level of success of your art’s final result. You have to dedicate 2-3 hours to this piece. Acrylic is a water based paint, it dries fast. As time passes, paint will be harder to move or to merge. With this technique you’ll have to concentrate and think progressively. With all that said, ironically, it will take good 2 days for this painting to dry, because some layers will be thicker or thinker then others.

Let’s go for it. Get a bunch of newspaper and cover you working space. It will get messy!  You will also need couple of wooden boards. Place canvas on them to hold it above  newspaper (make sure canvas securely sits on its frame only).  Otherwise, newspaper will stick to the canvas, and it will be extremely hard to peal it off. You can use any other non-sticking objects to hold the canvas.  For the start, get a smaller sized canvas like 12’ x ’16.  This size will provide enough of working area for you to experiment with pouring technique.   Always prime your canvas.  Primer will make surface thicker protecting it from paint getting through and leaving marks on the other side of canvas. Make sure canvas is dry before use.  It’s time to prepare the paint. Take a few colours, not too many, for example you can get a few in the same shade, like cerulean blue, prime blue, purple, lighter shade of purple. You can pick any colour palette you want, whatever talks to you at the moment. Thin your acrylics in cups using separate cup for each colour.  Make sure you have enough paint; that it is mixed well with no lumps, and that it is thin enough to flow.  Acrylic will start drying immediately; you will not have time to mix more.  You can use paper like water cups or plastic cups.  I use little plastic containers from baby food.  Once paint is ready, you can start pouring it on the canvas. Try to visualize first how you want to arrange your colours, and then pour them bit by bit in different areas of the canvas. Then, gently move your canvas to allow colours to travel, to merge. Add more paint, let it cover empty spots, go over edge covering sides. Paint will intermix and create design.   You can somewhat control where and how you want paint to run. Once canvas is covered you can add more colour to it. Make sure canvas surface is fully covered. Missed spots will be hard to fill after. You can leave your art alone to dry now, or you can use chopstick or other side of brush to add design by swirling paint, creating objects, and theme (make sure the paint is still flowing).  It’s all on you how you want to see your story unfold. 

With more practice you will discover more methods and ideas how to work paint using the pouring method. Welcome mistakes as opportunities, and, most importantly, have fun!

artist’s block

 We are all well aware of a term “writer’s block”, but is there one such as “artist’s block”?  Hands down – yes. Snow white canvas, open paint, clean brushes, and a mind of zero ideas to accompany would be the first indication of artist’s block.  By all means it is NOT a lack of imagination. Oppositely, I find that artist’s block can strike when there are too many ideas waiting for release at the same time.  Artist’s block can occur at any stage of the project progress. However, there are a few tricks that could be used to cure this little obstacle.

First: walk away from your working space. The more you concentrate on the next step, more tense and frustrated you will be.  Most likely it will cause you to make quick decisions that will take you away from your true inspiration which has led you to this particular art piece. You will be disappointed, not to say that it is a bad thing. I think any great accomplishment starts with mistakes and failure, however, we can avoid being spontaneous in this case. Walk away, go on with your day, sleep on it, go for a jog or meditate, etc.  Do something that will make you happy, stress free, and energized. Do it now.  Inspiration will come back to you faster than you know. Trust the process.

Second: if the walking away method didn’t work, another suggestion would be to start a completely different project.  It will redirect your attention from current issues; moreover, fresh inspiration will boost your progress and will open new channels to creativity.

Third: If you have a limited time to finish your troubled art piece, you will have to seek for inspiration. Go visit museums and galleries; seclude yourself in the world of nature. Talking to a friend, watching your favorite movie or listening to your favorite musical artist can be a creative boost for inspiration. Reading a book or writing a random story will be very suitable techniques to get your imagination going. You can also watch videos of other artists, their painting technique and style might open your vision to new possibilities. Don’t stay still, recognize your inspirational sources and use them.

Fourth: if you’re completely stuck then start painting abstract objects. In order to find them you will have to create one wonderful little tool. Take a piece of paper, tear it off your note book, or use letter sized ticker printing paper, whatever is available to you.  In the middle cut out a square sized no larger than 1×1 cm.  Look through square and slowly start moving paper around the room or other space you are currently present.  Small sized window will not allow you to observe a wide area; however, it will help you to find interesting shapes and lines. Start painting.

Fifth and last: if you don’t feel like bothering with the shape paper finder, then all that is left for you to do is to paint. Paint anything. Get a brush, dunk it in paint and make a first stroke on a canvas. Make another one. See what it looks like, continue painting, adjusting, designing, unfolding.  This process is so much fun and not obligating; outcome does not need to be explained or have any meaning,  make sense.  You are free and in control. Decisions are wide open and can be changed at any time, at your own terms.  Don’t stop, keep going, your mind will have no choice, but to get inspired for more.

Artist’s block is never fun, but it is curable. With time you will learn which method is more suitable for you or discover your very own method for rebooting creativity.   Also, remember this old saying: “practice makes perfect”.   The more you paint, the more you see, the more creative you are, and the stronger inspiration you have.  Embrace all stages of this wonderful process of creation and have fun!