As a mixed-media artist, no doubt acrylic painting is a considerable part of your technique arsenal. Whether you use it to add ribbons of vivid shades to art journal pages, soft background washes to collage, or fanciful neon details to hand-painted letters, it’s your go-to color medium.
Have you ever thought of what acrylic paint is truly capable of? Of how the range of hues can be mixed and applied to get mind-blowing results? Take a stroll through the new book, AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color, and you’ll see. Come on, I’ll show you.
This superbly printed hardcover book showcases the work of more than 100 artists who use color as their inspiration and as a way to tell their stories. Color, as editor Jamie Markle points out, “can evoke emotion, express a mood or inspire the viewer.” Acrylic painters, he adds, “have used every type of palette from the traditional to the modern; the range of possibilities is hampered only by the artist’s imagination.” Artists share insights on their techniques, processes, and inspirations, which adds so much to the experience.
Looking through the book, the acrylic painting below, “Every Moment,” stopped me in my tracks. This piece by Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone, taken from a photo, beautifully captures the hues of a dramatic sunset over a bucolic landscape. The artist’s use of color here is not accidental: “the oranges of the cloud formations in this piece are much more vivid than they appeared in the photograph,” he writes. “They are also surrounded by blues, their color complement (or opposite), to give more drama and impact to the painting.” He adds that he paints with acrylics because his process is largely intuitive, and he likes to make changes while working: “The quick drying time of acrylics allows those changes in composition and color to be made within minutes of one another.”
The versatility of acrylic painting techniques and color palettes shines in “Deliberation” by Ai Di Lin, featured in the Portraits and People chapter. The combination of color and brushstrokes, and abstract and realistic styles, are used so impeccably to convey a narrative. Lin writes, “ ‘Deliberation’ captures my father in a scene of his everyday life. … I use the muted color palette to convey his state of mind that he is constantly worried about us. … I worked back and forth between abstraction and realism to show that we struggle between rationality and irrationality. This piece is a journey for me to understand him and to be grateful for the love he has given us.”
[Caption: “Deliberation” by Ai Di Lin, acrylic with oil on canvas, 30″ × 30″, from AcrylicWorks 4.]
If you had any doubts about the breadth of acrylic painting styles, check out the painting below, titled “Flaming Parrot,” by Mark Pytlos. Yes, that’s acrylic, done with an airbrush. Here’s what the artist said about his technique: “I often use airbrush while painting with acrylics for the softness and ability to smoothly blend colors right on the surface. Since acrylic is a fast drying medium, it allows me to use multiple layers in a short period of time.” Pytlos says he likes mixing his own colors, and thinks about what colors can express to the viewer. He incorporated earthy colors for the veins in the petals, and also for some of the inner forms. A black hue was used for the background, plus some touches of mauve “to convey the mood and bring out the vibrancy of the primary colors in this unique tulip.”
The next acrylic painting, “Naxos” by Rhonda Doré, stands out for its beautiful collage elements, and its visual and physical texture achieved with gorgeous layering of color. Doré says that when it comes to choosing colors for a piece, “sometimes only phthalo will do. I like luscious, heavy body acrylics, and I work in many layers, so acrylic is my go-to medium.”
Doesn’t the phthalo in this artwork glow? I cannot stop staring at this piece and all of its components, and it’s motivating me to experiment with color layering techniques.
There’s so much more in AcrylicWorks 4 that you will love looking at and reading. This is a book you’ll open again and again. Add it to your library and see how your acrylic painting improves!