Try new things
Be experimental with your mark making; not only can you use the flat side of a flat brush, but the side of the brush and the tip of a pointed brush both help to add fine detail. Try painting with just the tip, hold the brush lightly at the end away from the bristles, or tape the brush to a long cane or piece of string and swing the brush to make some marks. You can swipe, dab, stipple, flick, scumble, swirl, twist brushes to apply paint and you can buy shaped brushes such as fans, filberts or ‘v’ shapes or make your own by cutting old ones.
Acrylic paint will stick to nearly any surface so long as it isn’t too slippery, so for experiments I often use cardboard from packaging and food cartons like those you get with breakfast cereals and pet food. When working in the theatre, amateur groups would often paint on old bed or decorating sheets and any scrap of material on their sets which you could staple to an old picture frame to make you own canvas if the material isn’t too thin.
There are numerous additives you can try too to thicken it or add texture including flour, fine sand, gesso, or a mix of PVA glue and plaster of Paris. If you prefer to your paint to be runny, either add water or acrylic flow which costs about £8-£10 but goes a long way.I haven’t experimented much with additives, but by the end of this week I hope to have tried a couple mentioned here.
Below are a few more examples of my work and for the most part my brushwork hasn’t been experimental at all. We all too easily settle into a comfort zone that never really stretches us once we’ve found a technique we like and the danger of doing that is that we can end up stagnating by ceasing to develop. You can of course develop by studying and practicing just one technique to become masters of a genre or even a pioneer of a new one like Seurat was with pointillism but I don’t happen to be one if them.
My aim is to explore and not to perfect as I believe when we stop being challenged by learning new things, we stop growing as people and start to become less interesting too. I am very much a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ because of that and while I occasionally wish I would specialise in something and just focus on that alone for the most part I think gathering experiences has become such a habit that I doubt I can stop now. So, tomorrow’s blog on acrylics will be about a technique seldom used by acrylic painters