Title: Acrylic Landscape
Started: 2 Dec 2011
Finished: 23 Dec 2011
This was one of my first fully realised Acrylic paintings.
When I first encounter a new medium, I tend to spend alot of time just playing around and experimenting with technique and colour. This painting represents countless hours of experimentation prior to the beginning of the work.
I first began experimenting with Acrylic last year – about six months after an art supply sale at Jacksons (of course). The reason for this – as irrational as it sounds – was because I often tend to develop a fear of new art supplies – especially good quality ones – as I can often feel ‘unworthy’ of a new medium due to my lack of proper training and expertise. However, after a few months of having the heaped tubes watch me accusingly from across the bedroom, I finally picked up a paintbrush and began experimenting.
My very first work – an aquatic scene which has been thankfully removed from this world – was a godawful mess. I hadn’t quite grasped how to mix colour properly, to adjust hue and deaden saturation, and in addition to poor composition and subject matter, the painting was quite frankly a pain to look at. I had approached painting with the acrylics the same way I had previously approached water-colours: by starting with the lightest hues and working my way towards dark, when in fact (as I soon realised) one of the key strengths of working with acrylics was the ability to add strong areas of white and light colour over darker ones. In addition to that,I found myself sadly lacking in my colour-mixing abilities, making my first acrylic work extraordinarily frustrating.
I put down the brush for another two weeks, and refused to pick it up again.
Until my mother asked me if I could paint her a landscape.
I didn’t. Not at first, at any rate.
Since I was absolutely determined to paint my mother something that wouldn’t embarass her the next time guests came over, I applied myself to the internet and began trawling through hundreds of online tutorials and videos to learn how to ‘do it right’. Sadly, I’ve lost many of the links during the last Great Computer Crash of O-11, but I did manage to track down an invaluable composition tutorial/criticism that got me into the habit of really thinking about composition (and subsequently starting every project with a series of compositional sketches) beforehand.
I also began constructing my own colour wheel, and playing around with ways to create shadows without relying too much on black.
It was only after about two months or so that I began to seriously consider the finished product. By then I was comfortable enough with the medium to buy some new brushes to experiment with, and begin sketching. I drew this scene from a number of photographs, finally settling on a relatively easy composition (a river scene that leads the eye from the foreground to the back). I chose a rapid river scene because I knew it was the kind of think my mother would like, and began painting.
I began to by creating an initial wash in peach and yellow to suggest sunlight streaming through the trees, before overlaying brush jabs of green to suggest leaves. Trunks were painted in, before being overlayed one more with green. The finer foreground details, and te river, I left till last.
As an overall painting, I think I was successful in conveying the rush of white water over rocks beneath the canopy of a hushed river forest. While the photograph is not particularly successful in conveying the range of colour, I feel the mood can still be felt. I actually feel like I learnt as much during the process of the painting as the period I spent researching it beforehand. And I had the added bonus of my mum telling me it looked fantastic (as all mums do, but with the notable difference of probably actually meaning it).
I have painted a few landscapes since, but this one has always been my favourite, both for the work that went into it, and the joy it has brought since.