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Ready to Paint?

canvases

Were do you start? What do I do?  Well here are some pointers. If you are about to do acrylic painting, I recommend you decide what to paint on. Will it be a stretched canvas, canvas on hardboard, canvas, fabric, rocks or furniture. You can still use your practice paper. Whatever you chose. it is available at Some people like paint on plain hardboard without canvas on it. One guy, I saw just painted on big pieces of ripped up cardboard. In Mexico, they use spray paint and paint on almost any surface. Use your imagination.

On canvas, you should give it one or two coats of gesso. Using a wide flat brush. Canvas, in most cases, it already has 1 coat on it. So for sure add another.  And depending on how smooth it is you might want to give 2 coats. I usually use one. Go by the instructions on your gesso.

Once it is Dry, you can begin to set up for painting. I put heavy plastic over the table to keep the paint off. But you don’t need to. Acrylic paint comes off with soap and water. I use dish soap.  Get out your brushes, container of water, paper towels, your picture, an easel if you like and something to put you paint on large enough to mix colors. Use paper plates or there are items in the craft store, art department, that are disposable palettes. Look at your reference photo and decide if you are going to make it real like a printed copy of it. Or go crazy and have fun with an abstract.

Then mix the color for the sky. If you are going to have a sky. If you don’t have a tube of paint the color you want the sky to be. Then mix it, with blue and white. Mix enough for if you need to touch it up. Or give 2 coats.  Acrylic paint is very hard to match up later. Then decide how far down the sky will be. Paint the entire area in big X shaped strokes back and forth over and over. Blend it if needed. Mist your canvas. You will get better coverage that way and less little white specks without paint in them. Then the area is still moist add a tiny little bit of white because the top of the sky is always lighter than the horizon. Or you can buy a tube of gel for mixing. And use less water. When your sky is finished. Add clouds if you want, but that is an entire 3 more lessons. Really good clouds are the hardest for me.

Decide what color the remainder of the painting will be. Green/ Brown or off white. Paint it even if you don’t know what all will be there. Even trees have some sky peaking through. Most paintings have the horizon at half way up, or 1/3 of the way down.   Use your good tape like frog tape to make a perfectly level straight horizon line. Don’t try to be fancy, just get the paint on the canvas.

Blick Art Materials

After it has dried completely, go ahead and pencil in the basic shapes you will have in your picture. Remember you will be painting from the back [ distant ] of the painting towards the front or nearest part of the painting. So if you have mountains, decide where you want those and paint them in. use a color like medium or dark purple to give the feeling of distance.  Do a diluted [watered down] transparent whitewash over them to show the atmosphere between here and there. Then work on your clouds. Remember the high in the sky clouds are closer and larger than low smaller ones are in the distance, far away.

This second painting is an online class I took from Tim Gagnon. As far as I am concerned he does the best clouds. [This is my painting] White fluffy clouds. I frequently have to go back and see how he does it. Try as I may I just can’t get it right. He pushes the paint around with his worn out brush. It is like a scruffy brush, worn out flat brush. He makes it look so easy. I can’t give much more advice as I don’t know what the remainder of your painting will be. Just block everything in. Making them slightly darker than you want them to be. I find it easier to add the highlights over the main color.

If you are adding buildings, remember perspective. The best way I can explain perspective to you is when you look at a landscape, notice the brighter larger items are in close. Close to you. As you look farther away things become smaller and not quite so bright, and less defined.  As you look farther and farther back things begin to become less clear, much smaller and blurrier to see. So this is why we paint from the back to the front.

It helps to follow along with an artist you like and do some entire paintings with them on you-tube. Take your time and be patient. Unless you are very talented, it will take years of practice before you start to hear” That is really good.” And remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The last thing I do is give it a couple of coats of matt finish top coat, like varnish. But I have been told it doesn’t need it after it dries completely.

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