Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Private Acrylic Lesson

Acrylic on paper

In April I will take a workshop with Stephen Quiller, a master watercolorist and acrylic artist. I wanted to jump start myself with acrylics, so I arranged for two private lessons with a friend, Joyce Barron Leopardo, SWA, an award-winning artist. Joyce is a wonderful teacher who does workshops for children at the Ronald McDonald House, nuns at a cloistered convent, and Bay area artists. She began my session by showing me many examples of her work in acrylic and mixed media - very inspiring.

We sat out on her beautiful deck in the hills overlooking the Bay and painted for thee hours. We had a great time. Joyce planned an exercise using a pear because of the simple shapes. I was to learn how to apply opaque acrylic paint similar to doing an oil painting. Joyce would emphasize placing lights next to darks and texturing the surface. We started with 2 full sheets of Arches watercolor paper, one coated with a layer of orange acrylic, and the other coated with a layer of Aso yellow acrylic. We cut the sheets into pieces measuring 5" x 7 ." We then taped three of the pieces together with a quarter-inch separation. The acrylic mother color sealed the watercolor paper so the paint moves lusciously upon the surface and is easy to manipulate.

Joyce matted two of the finished pieces and placed them in plastic protectors. The top piece above was my first effort, and really my favorite of the six I completed. As I painted with Joyce, I learned to achieve different effects. I used a palette knife to manipulate paint in the upper left corner, a piece of ridged cardboard for the table top texture, and scraped down to the orange in the highlight area of the pear with a piece of Starbucks gift card.

The second piece also employs my new favorite mother color, orange. I used crumbled plastic wrap to achieve the textured background, and stamped into the wet paint on the bottom with waffled rubber. I also scraped out some of the highlights on the pear with a palette knife. This manipulation exposed some of the mother color.

The third piece was also done on orange. Here I used lots of texture, layering paint and scraping with a palette knife. Joyce suggested adding a highlight with some contrasting paint. I selected hot pink and placed some on the left of the pear and on the stem and leaf. I tried playing around with some white paint and some purple to add lights and darks.

The fourth pear was created on the yellow mother color and I found it more difficult to select my colors for pleasing results; however, I am satisfied with all three pieces. Joyce had to do a touch of scraping in the pear highlight and add bit of paint for asymmetrical leaves to add some excitement. Then she suggested I drizzle some "tar gel" on the surface for some very interesting results. The gel makes loopy, organic lines that dry clear to reflect light at interesting angles and please the eye.

After matting and bagging the two pieces, Joyce loaned me a Stephen Quiller CD for the week, gave me leftover paints, showed me how she and Myrna Wacknov make a little travel kit of watercolors using an Altoids box and bottle caps and the resulting original gift cards she created while sitting for two hours in a plane on the tarmac. Joyce and I finished the day at a sweet Mexican cafe with delicious prawn tacos. I had a lovely time and look forward to our final session next Wednesday.


Watercolorist said...

Sounds like it was a really fun exercise. Like your results. I have been considering acrylics lately since I am having real difficulty achieving what I want in watercolors.
Nice work.

Mary Paquet said...

Jean, thanks for commenting. I am definitely intrigued and will do more. I also like the option of combining them with watercolor.

Barbara Sailor said...

This teacher has a very interesting approach to instructing in acrylics - it must have been a very meaningful and inspirational afternoon. I love the pears.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, I love the strong, rich colors of the pears. The biggest problem I have with acrylics, and just can't seem to get beyond, is the storage of finished works. Acrylic has a tackiness that doesn't go away. I'll be interested in reading more about your journey with acrylic. So many people do such wonderful work, they must have figured it out! You have wonderful adventures.

Mary Paquet said...

Barbara, I thought Joyce did a great job introducing me to working with full-strength acrylics. Next time we will be using a watermedia approach. I do love the pears, and these small works look nice in a fairly good-sized mat.

Peggy, thanks. I am wondering about the tackiness myself as I can feel it on these works. I just checked them by touch and the only one that has any tackiness now is the one with tar gel. The thick gel lines still feel tacky. I will ask Joyce how she handles her acrylic paintings. I'm also attending an afternoon session with an acrylic company rep tomorrow, so a good time to ask questions.

Mary Lou Arnold said...

Your pears are a joy - such bold color! Joyce is an incredible teacher isn't she; such a giving spirit.

Mary Paquet said...

Mary Lou, you must know Joyce personally -- she is very loving and giving. We had a fabulous time doing pears.

janice said...

What a great idea! You've certainly been experimenting with lots of different media. I've been so busy with other things,I haven't painted in almost 2 wks.Will make time for it as you do. Thanks for being an inspiration, Mary!

Mary Paquet said...

Janice, thanks for stopping by. Trying different mediums is a real treat -- something I never allowed myself to do when I was working and had limited time for art.