Underneath or On Top? Acrylic and Oil for Mixed-Media Painting

So you want to create a mixed-media painting that includes both acrylic and oil paint. If you want to use both of these paints, you need to know that it matters which you put on the canvas first. Annie O’Brien Gonzales addresses this approach and much more in her new book, Bold Expressive Painting: Painting Techniques for Still Lifes, Florals and Landscapes in Mixed Media. The following is an excerpt that features a mixed-media painting demonstration. Follow along and experiment with your own underpaintings for layered art that bursts with color and movement.

Mixed-Media Underpaintings
by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

Mixed-media painting lessons
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This technique for creating a mixed-media underpainting can be used for acrylic or oil mixed-media paintings. Keep in mind that if you want to use both, acrylic paint always needs to be applied beneath oil paint. If you add an oil-based substance (oil paint, oil sticks, etc.) on an acrylic underpainting, you cannot go back and add additional acrylic materials; oil must always be on top.

This technique serves two purposes: It will loosen you up for a painting session and create a more interesting surface than a single-color underpainting.

Turn on your favorite up-tempo music for this process; you need to have some rhythm and momentum to get this going! Don’t overthink–just have fun layering surfaces. Remember, most of the underpainting will be covered up, but it will still provide character for your painting.

A Mixed-Media Painting Exercise

Mixed-media painting lessons

1. Randomly squirt fluid acrylic paint in splotches on the surface and spread it around with a scraper, large brush, or brayer, creating some areas of mixed color.

2. Do the same with one or two more colors of fluid acrylic paint.

Mixed-media painting lessons

3. Begin to use mark-making tools–pencils, pastels, crayons–to create marks on the surface.

4. Lay a stencil on top of the surface and apply paint loosely with a brayer. Continue to apply paint with more stencils at random. (A spreader is an alternative to a brayer when using stencils.)

Mixed-media painting lessons

5. Continue using mark-making tools and stencils until the piece is complex and the surface makes you happy.

6. Add collage papers at in several areas using acrylic medium.

Mixed-media painting lessons

7. Add some marks with a water-soluble crayon, and then drizzle with water.

8. Blot the surface with a paper towel to remove some of the paint and create even more texture. ~Annie

Bold Expressive Painting can be yours today. Order your copy and get Annie’s expert guidance on composition, color and value, and more. BONUS: Annie’s book is part of an exclusive package you can only get here: Expressive Mixed-Media Painting–Print Collection. It includes Bold Expressive Painting PLUS Annie’s three art workshop DVDs on painting expressive landscapes, still lifes, and abstract art.

Happy painting,

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