A friend and I agreed to do a painting exchange, and her request for me was a painting of an avocado that she could hang in her kitchen. Always happy for an excuse to eat avocados, I picked up an avocado at the grocery store, sliced it in half, and proceeded to take dozens of photographs of it until I found just the angle I liked for a painting.
I used acrylic paint for the painting. It was partially out of practicality since I wanted to be able to mail it to her as soon as possible upon completing it, but it was also partially a motivation to use a medium that I’ve struggled to love.
Acrylic paint frustrates me. It dries too quickly to be able to blend layers of paint together, and when I mix just the right color on my palette, it often dries before I have a chance to use all of it, or I run out of that color before I’ve finished painting the area I want to paint that color. And being a thicker, less spreadable paint than oil paint, I often go through what seems like plenty of paint far faster than I expect.
On the other hand, acrylic paint has its advantages. The fact that it dries quickly also makes it more conducive to on-demand painting. I like to paint on gallery-wrapped canvases, meaning that my painting needs to extend around the sides of the canvas. This is easy enough for the majority of a painting, but it can be problematic when you I close to the end of a painting and need to paint the bottom edge of the canvas that rests on the easel ledge. If I’m using oil paint, I either have to give the paint on the top edge a few days to dry before flipping the canvas and painting the bottom edge, or I have to lay the canvas flat on a sheet of plastic (to protect the floor from wet paint) then paint the bottom edge and leave the canvas to dry for a few days. I’ve usually gone with the latter method since I’m impatient, but being a pet owner makes this method more difficult since pets have a tendency to walk right over exactly the thing that you want them to leave alone. So, acrylic paintings are very attractive to the impatient painter by comparison, only needing an hour or two of drying time before it’s relatively safe to flip the painting to paint the bottom edge, and only needing a day or two before it’s safe to pack up the painting and ship it.
So I gave acrylic paints another try, and I was very happy with the end product! My style of painting has evolved over the last few years, which I think has helped me to like acrylic paints more. I like to paint in layers, leaving bits of the underlying layers to show through. I especially like leaving parts of the brown outline of my initial brown-paint sketch to show through since that gives the painting an illustration-like look. This layering and showing-through method works well with the speed with which acrylic paint dries, as I’m less concerned about mixing colors between layers if I’m letting bits of underlying layers show through. Also, while I still mix colors on the palette, I’m a little less precise about mixing the colors thoroughly, and I tend to also mix the colors on the canvas a little as I’m painting. This speeds up my painting a bit, enabling me to use my paint before it dries and blend colors on the canvas before they dry. Altogether, my painting style now is much more compatible with acrylic paints than it used to be, which makes me very happy. :)
Evolution of a Painting: Avocado Study
And because I love to see how paintings evolve, a blog post about a new painting wouldn’t be complete without a series of photographs showing the painting’s evolution. :)