How to start and achieve good results painting with acrylic

I have spent thousands of hours watching how students start out with their paintings and I have also been beginner many years ago. Therefore, I am aware of tough things which we experience when using such a medium as acrylic. Especially, if this type of paint is a completely new to you.

Acrylic paints are very friendly. No smells, no known allergy causing components. I would advise people with sensitive skin to use gloves: they should be thin and match size of your hand.

Acrylic is easy to use because we can repaint, paint over, cover up and restart painting any areas which we assume not good enough, not suitable our intention and not nice enough. We sometimes need to wait until the first layer is dry. Overworking one spot causes to come off all wet paint.

Acrylic paints can be applied thinly, diluted with glazing medium or water and in a thick layer creating almost impasto effects. It’s just so that prices of paints have tripled since 2008 in Canada, so it is obvious that using modelling paste or different materials as a base is better than applying a lot of paint.

The biggest challenges are two. 95% of beginning artists who work in acrylic USE TOO LESS PAINT. A LOT LESS than required, actually. That results in uneven, streaky coverage or there is no distinction in color and value. We have to add the paint we are using most as it is almost gone. Acrylic dries fast, so dipping on it a few drops of water or slightly spraying it with water time to time will help hugely. It might be so that somebody gets overwhelmed with all information they have to absorb in first classes, but still: having just a small drop of paint on your palette is not going to work. USE DECENT AMOUNT OF PAINT! ALWAYS! Keep it slightly wet all the time while you are using this paint.

Secondly, partially covered canvas does not look good. We can check whether the coverage is proper by taking a picture. If the canvas fabric is clearly visible, that part certainly requires more paint, sometimes: much more paint.

By its nature, acrylic acts like a glue. We have to use this feature in our favor and so we do. We start with more abstracted, not that careful layers and move onto something more definite. WE SHOULD NOT START WITH FINAL DETAILS OR ASSUME THAT ANY FIRST LAYER IS FINAL. Apply at least 3-5 layers and then decide what else you do. Never judge an unfinished painting or make unreasonable conclusions about it. We fix and change EVERYTHING as we add more layers.

The second challenge is BRUSHING PAINT ALL AROUND. We need to place the paint wherever we want it and leave this spot alone. With that being said, we shouldn’t create strong fat lines with sharp edges for darker areas or road sides, field ends and similar. We want darker areas, not darker frames everywhere. To achieve that, we feather out the outer edge on that area. Just let the brush dance on your canvas and don’t worry about too much blending in the first few layers. By letting the brush slightly touch canvas on one spot we can hold the particular color on that area where we want it. Brushing paint around results in achieving uniformly flat color on the entire canvas or area.  We have to use the color we want on the spot where we intend to apply it.

Instructor can demonstrate, explain or show principles, methods and approaches, but painting is still up to you. That means: you have to use the reference, remember to look at the reference whether it is a real abject or scene, or a photo thereof all the time, not only when you start the painting. That does not really happen in reality.

Painting is based on very many decisions we make every second; in fact, we make some hundreds of decisions every second. So, if you only follow the instructor, but haven’t decided anything for yourself, results will not be that great.

Why am I saying: pay attention to reference? I have to repeat that because most people don’t ever pay attention to reference. When we are just beginning the painting, they would have a brief look at it; and I notice after a small while that NOBODY LOOKS any more at the reference. YOU HAVE TO! Reference or value drawing (if you have created such) HAS ALL THE ANSWERS: where to use dark color, where to make strong edge, where to wash edge or lose it, where to place highlights and what exactly the shape of something is. It is extremely important, much more important than what brush to use.

Talking about brushes: always use the ones which you feel comfortable with and which suit the size of the area you are working on. Very simple. We use the largest possible brush for any task. Flat brush has MULTIPLE USES IN ACRYLIC. We can draw thin long lines with the edge of it; we can cover large areas using it flatly, parallel to surface in full width, we can use 2 different shades or colors on each end of the flat brush which simplifies and speeds up painting.

How does the painting or drawing happen? We transform the visually perceived information in the brain signals that eventually lead to our hand movements. Whenever our hand moves accordingly to decision we made, we achieve the desired result. The more decisions one makes and the more one understands why some parts are neutral, some have strong and some have weak values, the easier it is to paint or draw. Blindly following and copying RESTRICTS our ability to analyze, understand and apply creatively our vision.

We develop painting from my sketches. The light barn with pink-red roof was painted by our youngest student Erin who is 11 and attends classes together with her mom. We just started a new project which we are also doing from a quick sketch of mine.

This post was waiting for a long time because I was very busy working on class images and steps.

Therefore, some images are from mid-December classes.

Painting, drawing and sketching manually is THE BEST MENTAL FITNESS EXERCISE. Nothing else can compete or compare to that. Period.

The lifeschool blog reviews challenges during dark and upsetting winter: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/01/17/how-to-feel-good-and-survive-the-dullness-of-depressing-winter-days/ Please enjoy!

 

To find a bit of lasting happiness

Well, some of you probably noticed, I wasn’t posting for almost 2 weeks. Quite a while, but I obviously was busy, and the art blog starts to put a bit of pressure on me because I love inserting illustrations, but don’t have them ready sometimes.

It was a fairly important date last week: my studio-gallery has been 5 years at its current location, in Whitby, Ontario. It was the 5th anniversary since I started Art plus Life. Wondering where is … plus life? The other blog will come soon.

Although, I didn’t think it was a very remarkable date at first, as I scrolled through all pictures (I have many thousands of them), I could see that there has been huge progress, in fact, and a lot has been achieved and done during these 5 years.

I will not try to comment on all pictures, but since I thought seeing was more than telling, here we go: please have a look at the retrospective pictures gallery.

I started out with one student. I had 2 students after a week, and some more joined after a month. Wednesday class was the first one to become regular once a week class, with small interruptions it has been running since fall 2012. Teens Tuesday class was on since March 2012, as well. I started to hold Saturday workshops only about 8 months ago, it proved to be useful thing, so these will continue next September.

I look at these pictures, and it is hard to describe the mixed feelings: sort of satisfaction, sort of so much work in preparation, and lots of happiness, I have to admit. When most people come to this studio, they start from zero, since they have never drawn or painted before. We learn about paints, colors, brushes, papers and canvasses. I have been watching many talents unfolding and I have seen many depressed, exhausted and desperate persons turning into happy ones.

The Wednesday group feels like a family, we’ve been together for a long time. Diana used to be in this group, as well, but her life made a jump, and so we regretfully are not seeing her. Well, we welcome new students all the time, and the most incorrect assumption one can have is this one: painting and drawing is for those who want to be artists. Not at all! It is for everybody, to find peace, to rejoin with their soul, to spend great time, to make a good use of days when the weather is bad, to conquer addictions, to overcome fear and lack of confidence, to find a bit of happiness.

 

I have been working on my creeks which students already got done, and the brown cottage is our current project.

Recent art projects for adult painting classes

It’s clear that we are excited about blue at the moment.

Recent works in progress

To put some nice accent on this round date: 5 years, a show, sale and hands-on event follows in June 6 and 7.

 

Poppies pop and red is such a great color to lift our moods

Poppies is a much-loved subject, and since November is the month which many people in Canada associate with poppies and Remembrance day, we just couldn’t resist and painted some, too. Liz is our champion when it comes to speed since she gets home after class and keeps painting, that way she is always the first one to finish her painting. Well, we are not envious because all of these paintings will be adorable.

Red must be a good color for up-lifting one’s mood because I cannot remember when else we were joking and laughing so much.

The next class is about to start, so I have to be short.

The next acrylic fun and pleasure painting afternoon is on November 22.

Poppies pop Teens watercolor painting class

Teens watercolor painting class

Teens watercolor painting class

Teen group enjoyed painting poppies a lot

Poppies pop Adult acrylic painting classes

Wednesday group

Poppies acrylic painting class

Liz is holding her finished masterpiece

Poppies pop Work in progress adult painting class

Work in progress adult painting class, Gwen at work

Poppies Adult acrylic painting class

Bev’s painting can be seen in front

Poppies acrylic painting for adults

Rose started to attend our classes this fall

Poppies Adult art classes

Gordon has developed his own style, we love it

Poppies Demo and Liz's finished work

My demo never gets done that quick because I have to paint it over and over for 2 or 3 groups, Poppies: Liz’s finished work

Poppies Painting by Liz

This is how Liz’s work looks like, however, light was not that great for pictures, real painting looks way more impressive

Poppies Art classes for adults

Gwen working on her painting: it is going to be very great piece of art

Painting fall birches in acrylic: lots of impact

The Wednesday group successfully finished the autumn birch project, 8 students started doing it, and 6 were able to attend the last class. Most paintings are almost done, some details can be added after a while when everything has settled.

Adult acrylic painting class for beginners

Successfully wrapping up the project

 

 

Acrylic painting beginners class for adults

This group traditionally is the most stable: 3 students keep painting since the last year. We had a good addition this season when some new committed students joined us. Even though most people can paint and learn how to do it, it still takes some work and some effort, and time is required, as well. The working atmosphere in this group is so nice that it’s lots of fun, too. I have to agree that working with this group cheers me up and always puts in a good mood. It’s amazing what great results achieved even those attendants who were doing their first painting ever.

Fall birches: acrylic painting

 

The biggest troubles are still associated with keeping darks where they need to be and adding lights and highlights where these have to be. Some layering does not disturb, and we are sometimes going from dark to light, from light to dark and back to light again. The brush would sometimes stubbornly pick up too much paint or we wouldn’t clean it out when switching to other shades. This is something which only takes more practising. When I compare the results after a while, I can see how fast we are moving forward.

Adult acrylic painting class Wednesday night group

Besides, birches is such a tree which can be painted in a million different ways, and it will look great whatever way we are doing it. We enjoyed this project a lot, and we are about to do another type of scenery next time. We will try more drawing based approach and move upwards , downwards and outwards of each painted object as we go. This should be interesting, as well, and we will probably gain more control over our darks and lights since it is easier to maintain shapes and do layering with this technique.

Yellow hibiscus blooms: acrylic class is doing fine

I have noticed that sometimes students feel disappointed when they discover that drawing and painting actually takes some time, effort, skill and practice. Many people who are interested in creation of art use to watch YouTube videos and demos, and painting seems to be so easy and effortless, especially time-lapse demos, that when it comes to painting on their own they are really surprised how it didn’t happen with the first brush stroke. Any medium, and acrylic is no exception, requires to learn and figure out its advantages and drawbacks, to get used to its features and to understand how these paints really act and work on canvas or on paper. Mixing colors is a science on its own, and we still have to add to this the creation of image, planning, drawing, creating perspectives, compositions, we have to take into account values, contrasts, layout, so on and so on.

Well, one or two classes cannot give a complete understanding neither about the application of paint, nor about the painting process. We also need to be patient because sometimes the painting just doesn’t happen in a blink of an eye.

Even though, everybody was interested in still life painting in the Thursday group, I had to admit after the first classes the object which consisted of quite a few jars, cups and apples was too difficult to re-create. Two of my most dedicated students completed the painting, and their results were surprisingly good, but the rest didn’t have the persistence to overcome the initial difficulties and some just dropped out.

We decided to go with flowers as the next object. Some new students joined the class, as well, and we will probably do more scenery in the future just like the other group which has been busy with birches all October. It seems the hibiscus was liked by everybody, though.

 

Yellow hibiscus: model for acrylic painting class

I have taken many hundreds of pictures over 3 years since I have this plant. There are periods when it is resting and doing not so great, and there are moments when it looks breathtakingly beautiful with its large graceful yellow blooms which can be as big as a medium size plate. I keep this hibiscus outdoors in summer, and I obviously have to accommodate it indoors when the temperature drops.

Working on first layers

 

I don’t think anybody would complain about the lack of inspiration when this amazing plant is in full bloom. The color alone is worth a kingdom. I didn’t finish my demo yet, and some students only got done the first part, but our results were quite satisfactory this time.

Good start: new students joined the Thursday acrylic painting class

 

Acrylic painting can be relaxing as well

 

Acrylic painting class for beginners

Acrylic painting classes for adults and young people

Painting is progressing nicely

Enjoying the class: it is also fun and pleasure, not only work

Art classes for adults and teensWe started from the center and moved with the image and paint outwards as we progressed. It looks this approach is not only saving time, but also offers a lot of advantages when developing the image. The final paintings should be excellent.

Art classes: A worthwhile activity

What is the best way to never feel bored again? How to give one’s life a new meaning?  How to make long winter nights shorter not wasting time in the front of TV? Very simple: by doing something pleasurable and rewarding. Arts fits in this type of activities just perfectly. Not everybody feels like dancing or exercising every weeknight. Not everybody has a good company on his/her own. That’s where I come in with my art classes for beginners and people who simply enjoy colors, shapes and images. Some students will continue painting, some will have art only as a hobby, and some students will enjoy time spent in a nice atmosphere. Whatever way it is done, it is worth it. It is amazing to hear after a class how surprised and satisfied students are that they were able to create something on their own.

Resuming art and painting classes for adults

Wednesday acrylic painting group started to work on fall maple images

Lots of potential students are asking: do they need to be good at drawing or painting? The answer is: no, they do not. It is enough that somebody has found time, and this is a good way to spend it. People who feel they depend on their mobile devices, laptops and computers should give this some consideration, as well. We are learning how not to use any devices, printouts or digital references.

Adult acrylic painting for beginners

Thursday acrylic painting class for adults enjoyed drawing, sketching and painting still life. The first part is done, and results look very promising.

Drawing and some painting is done observing and re-creating objects on canvas or paper. It may be challenging at first, but this approach is the most natural one and provides with real artistic freedom.

NEW this fall: acrylic for teens and advanced drawing plus watercolor

Many teens expressed interest in acrylic painting last year.

Such classes are lots of fun, they are exciting, and students can create very real art for whatever needs they have: decorating teen’s room, giving as a gift or preparing a portfolio for future studies in an art college.

Acrylic painting classes

I have scheduled 1 acrylic painting class for teens and young adults (10 to 18 years) during this fall term.

Thursday 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm (teens/youth 10-18) Fee: $14

Lots of excitement, lots of discoveries, lots of fun, not to mention the happiness of having created something.

Materials are not included; however, the material list for teens is noticeably smaller than for adults.

Acrylic painting supplies

Canvas, canvas board or heavy watercolor paper approximately 14 x 18 in or 16 x 20 inches in size.

2 or 3 fairly soft brushes: 1 flat (1 to 1.5 in), 2 rounds: 1 size 8, and 1 size 12 with fine tips.

Acrylic paints:

Titanium white; Payne’s gray; Cadmium red medium, Cadmium yellow medium, either Cerulean blue or Ultramarine blue. More colors are optional.

Pencil, eraser, red, brown, blue markers

Pretty many sheets of thick paper towel and medium large plastic or paper plates

Kids and teens who want to draw more and use watercolor or watercolor pencils are welcome to attend 2 Tuesday watercolor and drawing classes and 1 Wednesday drawing, sketching and painting class:

Tuesday 5.30 pm- 6.30 pm (teens/youth 9-15) Fee: $14

Tuesday 7 pm- 8.30 pm (teens 10-18) Fee: $16

Wednesday 5.30 pm- 6.30 pm (teens/youth 9-15) Fee: $14

Development of observational drawing, visual perception and artistic abilities; starting with simple objects, perspectives and scenes and gradually achieving excellent results. Very exciting classes with plenty of pleasure to explore new themes.

Watercolor painting supplies

Materials include good watercolor paint set (please do not get absolutely spicy shades), watercolor paper from 14 x 18 and up to 16 x 20 in; 3 watercolor brushes: 1 flat (1 inch); 1 round size 8 and 1 round size 10-12, all with fine tips, pencil, eraser, cardboard base and painters tape to attach the paper, rather larger size plastic palette for mixing up paints and fairly many sheets of paper towel.

Watercolor pencils are optional.

Registration is already on.

Art classes: acrylic pancy painting

I have scheduled an introductory class for new students and those who might be interested on August 29 between 4 and 6 pm. I will pass out applications, answer questions and show materials.

I hope to see you at my studio-gallery!

Students told they really enjoyed my classes last year!

For any questions, please e-mail:

inesepogaart@gmail.com

I love birds and Natural Awakenings publishes my painting on the August issue cover

Once I started to paint and draw  birds, I unexpectedly found a new interesting scope of material. There’s so much to explore! My first paintings of birds were very approximate. I just tried to give them some character, that’s all. I’m paying more attention to the arrangement of colors, etc. on wings and other feathers and to their external anatomy.

I like most birds, and I really need to love or somehow like that stuff which I am going to draw or paint. That’s pretty much the reason I stopped painting human portraits.

Chaffinch in the grass watercolor painting

Chaffinch 4, watercolor painting of bird

Nature has the most wonderful variety of everything, from small to huge, from simple to complicated.

 

Chaffinch 3, bird painting in watercolor

I suppose, I will keep studying birds for a while. I do get tired of similar images, though, that’s why the next paintings to finish are three-dimensional landscapes.

Taking about landscapes: my painting “Overlooking the Meadow” will be on the cover of Natural Awakenings Magazine.

Overlooking the meadow

Natural Awakenings is a free publication about healthy living that is available in over 90 cities in the U.S and Puerto Rico, with a readership of over three million. I had my market scene on their cover in 2012, and immediately after that I sold some paintings. Well, if you happen to see this magazine, pick it up for free. They write about useful things there. I also find amazing that they contacted me already 2 times.

That’s it, our last art class of the spring term

We said good-bye to each other until the fall. There were lots of hearty and sincere have-a great-summer wishes and thankful hugs. Teen class was obviously not that excited, but the pleasure of seeing big surprise in parents eyes when they hardly can believe in the great achievements of their kids is hard to describe.

Floral watercolor painting demo: using washes and negative painting technique

Quick floral demo, just the first part

My art students are very different, some would paint small details for hours, some don’t find still life exciting, but all of them wanted to become more skilled, more insightful and more creative.

The best results are achieved with patience and persistence. Time is the most challenging factor, and we are so often short of it. Those students who were able to find time, definitely enjoyed their creative experience.

Rural acrylic painting, barn painting

The adult acrylic painting class was doing rural scene with barns. Even though, not everyone was able to attend the last class, I have to admit that their progress was very obvious (when students start to come to classes, they have absolutely no experience with acrylics).

Acrylic painting of old barn, in progress

Barns are amazingly pleasurable things to paint

Paintings are still in progress, but I’m sure they will be done after a while

We used only red, yellow and blue, and applied these colors in very loose washes

Negative watercolor painting technique: floral

Painting negatively with positive attitude

Teen watercolor painting class

We are paying the most attention to the development of observational skills, and less to implementation of the photographic likeness what camera sees.

My fall schedule is more compact, all classes take place in the middle of week, so that students don’t have to miss them because of parties, celebrations and long weekends. I have also separated landscape painting and floral/still life painting. I am starting acrylic painting classes for teens 12+ in the fall, as well. There were many requests.

Our learning season is getting close to the finish line

The learning season at our gallery is getting close to the finish line.

Paintings in pictures are done by students who had never tried acrylic painting before. They progressed very fast from not knowing how to mix up paint to students who pretty much were sure what they wanted to achieve.  We were exploring multiple techniques and subjects; we created quite many beautiful artworks. We feel enriched and inspired, and hopefully, the newly acquired skills will enable our students to capture their impressions during summer and their vacations.

I have been extremely busy recently, and I need a break, too. I’m going to spend some time in Europe, in my homeland Latvia this year.

My art gallery is getting reorganized, as well. We will start out again in September with new classes, seminars, practical learning in both, life skills school and art school.

I’m working on a new website which will contain all relevant information, and I might be very busy for a while yet, thus, there won’t be that many posts during this time.

The river scene was finished a small while ago. 6 students started it, and 3 students got it done or almost done.

Adult acrylic painting class river scene

Diana’s painting of river and rocks and nature

Acrylic nature painting adult painting classes

Bev’s painting of river scene

River: acrylic painting, adult painting classes

Gordon’s painting with river and rocks

The last scene of this learning season is scene with barns in a landscape. We love it, and I think, we might return to barns during the fall painting sessions again. We are still working on it.