After featuring acrylic artist Karin Nelson in the Fall 2016 issue of Acrylic Artist we followed up with her to learn more about how she manages the fast-drying qualities of acrylic paint. Here’s what she does to overcome three common obstacles.
Nelson explains, “The fast drying property of acrylic can be its biggest negative. Once we learn how to overcome that challenge we can enjoy one of its greatest advantages: moving quickly from one layer to another. Here are some techniques I use with my style of acrylic painting.”
Challenge #1: How do you end a brushstroke over a previously dried area without leaving the little dots from the texture of the canvas?
Solution: Holding the flat-edge bristle brush flat against the canvas, push the paint in the direction of the end of the bristles, as opposed to pulling the brush in the direction of the handle. The end of your stroke will not run out of paint this way. I don’t do the entire painting this way; just where it’s needed, such as a transition from one color to another. It seems to be especially helpful for me in large areas like a big sky.
Challenge #2: As an acrylic painter, I sometimes envy the beautiful blending that can be achieved in an oil painting. Sometimes I want that creamy, luscious segue between color A (which has already been applied, and is now dried) and color B, but how do I achieve it?
Solution: The solution is so obvious, maybe I am the only one who was slow in getting it? I’ve learned to just go at it purposely a second time. Isn’t that the beauty of acrylic anyway? That we can paint over a dry area with a fresh start? I simply apply color B, and quickly, while it is still wet, reapply some more of color A right next to it, blending as I create my strokes.
Challenge #3: Your painting is almost complete when you realize your composition calls for you to make one or more of your edges softer, or “lost,” but it’s too late in the process or not expedient to repaint the edge.
Solution A: Add a scratchy parallel line (see Little Shed on the Prairie) or messy globs (see Edge of Light) with the edge of a knife.
Solution B: Apply a perpendicular brushstroke between two different colors on the edge that you want to soften. If my attempt doesn’t look right, I quickly wet a paper towel and wipe it off which is another benefit of acrylic. I can either try it again, or use one of the previous approaches. It’s all about trial and error; always learning and always discovering. It’s worth mentioning one of my favorite advantages of the fast-drying qualities of acrylic is that in no time at all I can switch back and forth from thick opaque layers to thinly watered down transparent paints, allowing me to achieve the multiple layers I desire. I am also becoming a fan of watered down opaque paints as another option for interesting layers. Don’t even get me started on layers, or the things that can be done with transparent paints!
For more tips, including some details about new ways I have learned to use transparent acrylic paints, check out the Acrylics Tutorial on my website HERE. The tutorial also includes some comments about interesting knife work on negative spaces. Depending on your style, you might find some of these tips helpful in your work.
To read the full feature article on Karin Nelson in Acrylic Artist visit Norhtlightshop.com to order a copy of the Fall 2016 issue now.