acrylic abstract

Acrylic Washes And Pours

Two students tilt a paper with acrylic wash

Too bad this is not wine or we could say this wash has “legs!”

Those who love texture will appreciate the point of enhancing it with specially-mixed acrylic washes. Learning to make this mix was the first part of our class. While there are many recipes for it on Your Tube, we were aiming to mix something that could be used in a variety of materials such as paper, molding paste or canvas.

A female student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

A student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

Our surface was heavy watercolor paper because this paper can take a lot of abuse. We scored it, sanded it and covered it with masking fluid. The texture and hues on the wash can serve as a beautiful background for a collage. Once the acrylic washes were applied with a spray bottle, we tilted it and let the excess pour on a mixing tub that had an inch of water.

A hand applies spray to a small canvas on a table.

This canvas was first treated with molding paste and the acrylic wash accentuates the textures.

The second part of our class was devoted to learning how to mix the paint for a pour. This time we tried both paper and canvas. I had a few examples to show. There are many resources on You Tube that can show you how to make various types of pours, but I find there is no substitute for doing one yourself. Not everyone is comfortable with the messiness factor engendered by this type of activity. By the time we finished, our pours were hanging from a clothesline, dripping lots of paint on my studio floor!

A large paper shows patterns made with thick paint over wet paper.

Pouring medium over a wet paper results in something Joan Miró could have made.

Acrylic Bag of Tricks

A female student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

A student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

Increase your expressive power and expand your painting repertoire. Enhance the work you already do! Painting experience helps, but is not required to enjoy this class that runs from Jan to March. How can such a friendly and versatile medium be so misunderstood? Acrylic is easy to use, incredibly versatile, and devoid of noxious fumes. The class runs from Jan to March and will be taught at the Richmond Art Center. Exact dates coming soon!

Goals

  • Learn which additives to use for what effects
  • Choose the best acrylic materials for the task at hand
  • Understand the possibilities and limitations of the medium
  • Use acrylics to mimic oils

Format
Learn a new acrylic “trick” every week through short and playful experiences designed to expand your knowledge of acrylic additives. You will be able to receive instruction and create something during every class.  Instead of lectures, we engage in a series of short exercises coupled with explanations of the acrylic technique we’ll be learning for each session.

During the first hour, the focus will be on exploring various acrylic pigment and additive qualities though a series of fun exercises so you can be aware of the medium’s possibilities. We will go through the steps in the development of an acrylic piece and you will be able to receive as much or as little support as you specify. Click here for a list of materials for the class.

Unlike other classes I teach, this class will be taught at the Richmond Art Center, located at 2540 Barrett Ave, in Richmond. Register early! Classes fill up fast. This outline will give you a sense of what we’ll cover:

Session 1 Jan 11
Introductions, purpose and goals for the class, survey of acrylic additives. Good acrylic colors. How to prime cardboard.

No class on January 18

Session 2 Jan 25
Textures 101: “Fresco,” crackelure, impasto. The palette knife.

Session 3 Feb 1
Glazing to build gorgeous color

Session 4 Feb 8
Texture transfers with gel plates

Session 5 Feb 15
Acrylic-based “inks”

Session 6 Feb 22
Additives to use in clean and “dirty” pours

Session 7 Mar 1
Direct and indirect image transfers: Choosing the best images and additives for the job.

Session 8 Mar 8
Applying direct and indirect images to a background.

Session 9 Mar 15
Time to finish projects and celebration

Painting in Acrylics Starts March 18

A student at a table with paints, a palette and brushes.

Use the paints you already have and learn whether there is anything else you might need to buy.

Some people start learning to paint with acrylics. Others begin with oil then switch to acrylics under the assumption that they are less messy or toxic. Watercolorists switch because it is less difficult and expensive to frame an acrylic painting. Then there are painters who are prevented from bringing their oils to communal spaces.

No matter your reason to try them, rest assured no medium has been more misunderstood than this one. You see, it’s all about the additives. Knowing how to use them will give you a tremendous range of effects that simply cannot be achieved with oils. Yet visiting an art store and knowing which additives to get can be a bit intimidating, so many students continue painting without them and reaching the conclusion that acrylics is a difficult, unwieldy medium.

 I can water them down almost like watercolors or I can use them thick like oils. I believe they are respected as oils when the painting is good and they look awful (same as oils) when the painting is bad. Patricia Ann Rizzo

Acrylics are in fact, a great medium for novices and experts alike. They are very forgiving (just paint over your mistakes). They dry fast, enabling you to work on successive layers in an accelerated timeframe. You can clean everything with water, and gel medium has a very mild odor compared with turps. When you mix in a little gel, the results can be undistinguishable from an oil painting.

So, to all the acrylic haters out there, you simply don’t know what you’re missing!