Strange that people seldom think to use acrylics as watercolours, yet it would prove much more cost effective if folk did as you get a lot more paint for you money. However watercolours have their own unique qualities and certainly for most of this year I’ve been using them for the sheer convenience. Watercolour sets come in compact boxes as well as small tubes so don’t require lots of space to set up and are ideal for quick sketches for that reason.
Acrylics however are less convenient in that respect. Even the smallest tubes are larger that those for watercolours precisely because they are not designed specifically to be watered down to that degree but it is possible to use them like watercolours.
You just need a touch of acrylic added to lots of water, but be aware that the colours are both stronger and more permanent than watercolour paint. It’s not as easy to wash them down once they’re on the page or canvas if you find the colour too strong, so I suggest steadily building up the layers as I did with the painting above. And below is a sketch using just watered burnt umber. Many would use it as underpainting to then start to go in again with thicker layers of paint.
The water was dirty with other hues which I think adds to it. The point is you have options and as with printing techniques if you start with the lightest hues and then progress to the darker ones. If you want to try this just ensure you add plenty of water at all stages and don’t fret about mistakes, they make a piece interesting and serve as a record of your learning process.
The other thing I did was use an old clogged up sable brush and started drawing using just the tip of the brush. Painting with just the tip alone is a tradition and practice favoured by Chinese and Japanese artists that goes back centuries. In Europe we have tended to use the whole brush more.
As I’m determined not to get stressed over blogging and it’s been a gorgeous sunny day today (Tuesday), I’ll be adding some more experiments on before in Sunday’s finale including using acrylic flow improver and using larger brushes if not on the another page of this blog as well.
In the meantime it gives me the opportunity to remind you that my new #artistoftheweek goes live at the same time as this post. As it’s the last full week of the month that means it’s another of my artist followers on Twitter. Tomorrow’s theme on acrylics will be on the use of palette knives thereby going from it’s thinnest application to it’s thickest. Hope you’re able to check in again tomorrow or whenever suits you best.