Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Oil Painter's Confession

"Bella Buckskin" 24 x 24 acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas (in progress)
After a super sunny warm fall it's suddenly freezing in the Mile High City today! As with all poor weather, this is the ideal excuse to skip my "non art" errands get some work done in the studio.

More specifically, I’m prepping for my painting demo tomorrow evening at the lovely Cherry Creek Country Club. My thanks again to the Club for the invite! Picking a demo painting subject is never easy (at least it's not for me) but I’m pretty sure I’m going to work on one of my favorite types of paintings—a contemporary colorful equine painting which is my post today.

As a daily painter I will always adore buttery alla prima oil painting. So I'm sometimes asked why I still use acrylic paint. The fact is that acrylic has many advantages which many of my painting students enjoy every day in the studio.

So I thought I'd share 10 reasons why an oil painter like me still uses acrylics depending on the project and why you too might appreciate this flexible and versatile medium:
  1. Do you tend to change your mind as you paint? Acrylics dry so quickly I can easily paint over a section or “correct” with some gesso.  .
  2. I’m braver and more experimental with acrylics—You can fix just about anything even if you paint thickly. (No “fat or lean” rule like oil.)
  3. Depending on the canvas size, I could (and have) change the entire background color in less than 10 minutes.
  4. I can quickly glaze a thin transparent layer of paint over a section to adjust or enhance a color. (Just about impossible in wet in wet oil painting.)
  5. If oil is "black tie" I think of acrylic as "casual Fridays." Plus it's more affordable. No fancy linen or sable brushes. And while I prefer pro grade paint like Liquitex Heavy Body I've done perfectly well with Hobby Lobby brand (love the turquoise!) and even 50 cent "mistake" hardware paint leftovers.  
  6. Large fresh acrylic paintings are easy and clean to transport. If you have thalo blue oil paint on your steering wheel or leather seats you'll appreciate this. 
  7. The harder edges of the acrylic work well for a bolder, more graphic style. 
  8. I could easily add a “mixed media” component like pastel, collage or a texture gel/paste for interest and variety.
  9. Blending acrylics and soft edges can be tricky but it becomes easier with alacrity, more paint, and practice. (You could also add a slow drying medium or blending medium.)
  10. Usually, I can complete a larger painting in acrylic faster than I can in oil paint—this is very helpful for art deadlines like shows, festivals, etc.
Thanks and best wishes for all the time you need to be as creative as you can be!