Acrylic Painting in Layers and Thinking About a New Project for 2015

I recently got a great deal on some Golden acrylics, and I’ve been having fun trying them out.

I’d been working regularly with watercolor before getting these new paints, and switching between the two is always a bit of a challenge until I get the feel for it again.

When I got back into watercolor a few months ago, I found myself laying it on way too thick and wanting to layer it. Now that I’ve gotten used to watercolor, my initial acrylic efforts were getting kind of muddy until I “remembered” the magic of layering.

After a few layers of paint, I had a somewhat muddy dark gray surface with light speckles. I wasn’t too impressed at first, but coming back to my art table after a break and taking another look, the speckled surface reminded me of cactus prickles. I ran with the idea!

Close up of Cactus Painting

I drew the outline of the cactus shape (you can see pencil lines where the segments meet) on the page, and then painted around the edges with a layer of purple and then blue. For those two layers I thinned out the paint and painted it thickly in sections, then dabbed it off with a paper towel before it could completely dry. That technique allows you to see through to the speckled layer, as well as the lighter purple layer under the ultramarine blue. It also gives the piece the vibrant luminous color that it needed.

The final touch was adding red cactus blossoms here and there.

Not only was I trying out paint, but I was also trying out different sizes of paper. I’ve been contemplating another year-long daily project, and one of my thoughts was to work on a specific size of paper. This one is 5×7 which feels pretty good to me, but I’m also trying out 4×6 and 6×8.

Are you considering a year-long project for 2015? I’ve also been thinking about working with a time limit, or possibly working digitally, but I still haven’t decided. I would love to hear what you have planned for the new year!

Inspired by Long Skinny Paper

My friend Liz Nugent recently gave me the coolest pad of paper. I just love it. The paper quality isn’t the best and there are lines across it (which I tend to avoid), but it sparked a bunch of creative ideas for both me and Liz because: It’s really long and skinny.

I couldn’t wait to let my mind wander and doodles some shapes.

Watercolor Doodles

Here are several drawings of dragons by Liz on the same paper:

Artwork by Liz Nugent

Aren’t they the cutest!? Here are some plants by Liz too:

Artwork by Liz Nugent

If you’re curious, the dimensions of the paper are 1.75″ x 11″. It’s amazing how such a simple change, like using an unusual sized paper can inspire so many new ideas. Now I’m thinking of all those scraps I’ve tossed over the years from cutting down paper. If only I’d known! I’ll certainly be keeping them in the future.

Liz is a wonderful illustrator who I’m honored to call a friend. If you want to check out more of her work, please visit Liz’s website or say hi to Liz on twitter!