Monday, September 29

Some Advice for Painting with Acrylics

Country Hillside
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
There's an old saying, "do as I say not as I do." I always hated that because it is so patently hypocritical and self-serving. There is no place for that in art. In that spirit, I'm telling you what  I actually do regarding painting with acrylic paint. Here goes.

No. 1 - They're not oil; they're not watercolor or gouache, either; they're acrylic, get over it. That means you have to forget what you've learned about painting with those other media. You have to learn how acrylics actually work when you personally paint with them as opposed to reading or watching how someone else paints with them.

No. 2 - You have to learn how not to dally with acrylics. Dally is the perfect word, which has a couple of meanings, both of which apply.

One means to treat something in a way that is not serious enough. To paint successfully with acrylics you must treat them with the respect they deserve as a bona fide medium, no matter what other painters think or say about them.

The other meaning is to waste time idly, dawdle. As you will quickly learn, you can't dawdle (or dally) with acrylics, they dry too fast. You have to paint deliberately and purposefully. For many, however, that is their no. 1 attribute.

No. 3 - Find the brand or brands of acrylic paint that work best for YOU. That doesn't mean it has to be the most expensive or "the best" as described or endorsed by other painters or manufacturers. It does mean that you have, for whatever reason(s), found the paint that best suits the way you paint and gives you the look and feel of painting you desire. That simple.

Well, I do believe I have more advice, but I think I'll save that for another blog.


Monday, September 22

Natural Style is the No. 1 Goal

Lookout Point
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/ 40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
I've blogged about this in previous blogs, but I believe one of the most difficult things for painters to do is to find their natural style and ability to paint.

It's so easy to look at famous paintings and painters as well as current paintings and painters and think, "I want my paintings to look just like that."

I do that myself, way more than I should, I'm sure. It's because you see either a style of painting or a palette of colors or certain motifs, or all three, and you wish to emulate that type of work.

The thing is, your paintings never look like the ones you admire. Of course, one way to learn how to paint is to paint an exact copy of a painting you admire. Many students are taught that method as a way to learn. I remember one visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. where several students were standing before some of the world's great masterpieces with their easels and oil paints painting exact copies.

Not a bad way to study, I suppose, but then it's not your own work is it?

I believe you have to be comfortable in your own painter's skin, so to speak, and let your natural style show throughout your work and let this be the no. 1 goal. In addition, once you have found your style, all your work will have an identifiable character, and that's what collectors like.

And another thing, isn't it great that we all paint differently? Because if we all painted alike what a boring art world it would be.

Monday, September 15

A Flash of Inspiration in Painting

Beyond a Shadow
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
No matter what you paint, where you paint, when you paint, or how you paint, you won't connect with the viewer without first having had an inspiration.

Your inspiration is what makes your painting uniquely appealing, not only to you but also to others who are drawn into your vision.

One definition of inspiration is to be mentally stimulated to do something creative. I like that. To me it simply means that something got your brain rev'd up so much that you just had to act on it in a creative manner. You often hear the term "a flash of inspiration" to describe that moment of stimulation.

There's inspiration in all kinds of human endeavors, of course, but in painting the inspiration you have comes out visually on a two-dimensional surface in the form of gesture and contour and tone and color, among other things.

Not unexpectedly, several synonyms for inspiration are creativity, inventiveness, innovation, imagination, and originality. Perfect.

Whatever it was that flashed in your mind at that moment--an emotion, a view, a color, a setting--instantly told you, "that's my next painting."

Monday, September 8

It's OK to Be an Introvert and a Painter

September Shore
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/ 40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Painting, any type of painting, is a solitary act. That's the nature of creativity and the nature of painting. Painting and socializing are and were meant to be mutually exclusive activities.

You, the painter, alone are responsible for the outcome. You alone must observe, conjure, design, render, evaluate, and complete your painting. No one else is involved.

Being around other artists is fine--now and again--but groups of painters don't create paintings.

A group of painters is no different from any other group of people. People are generally mundane, and in any group you have a spectrum of personalities that includes just about every human trait and foible. Dealing with that, or just being around that, is the problem.

I don't care what anyone says, I don't think good painting evolves from being around other painters. I think good painting comes from time spent alone by one's self in the planning and execution of the work.

Call us introverts if you like, but I think that's the way we want it.


Tuesday, September 2

Keep Challenging Yourself As A Painter

Two Little Boats
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
8 x 8 in/ 20.3 x 20.3 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
If you are a regular follower of this painting blog, then you know I am always for changing things up a bit, trying out new techniques, or simply challenging yourself to paint something that you know is difficult for you.

In my own case, it's painting boats.

I don't know why. I don't fear of painting water. Most painters would agree, I think, that painting water would seem to be more difficult to paint than a boat, what with all the movement of waves and how the light catches and reflects, etc., etc.

However, I remember the times I have painted boats, and it has always been difficult for me. The size doesn't seem to matter, I have trouble with large ships as well as little skiffs. I think it has to do with the shape of the bow--most boats have a pointed bow--and the way the sides curve back toward the stern.

Getting the perspective just right, along with painting the light and shadows, and rendering the volume correctly, well, that's difficult.

But, that doesn't mean we should give up. It means we need to keep challenging ourselves, and in my case, paint boats!