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February 2014

Laying the groundwork...for artful decisions.


I am often asked "how do you begin a painting?"  I think it is time to offer an answer.  My first decision is always about what surface I am going to paint upon.  Why?  Because different surfaces call for different products or techniques.  Yes, it is true that you can use almost any acrylic product on almost any surface created for painting without problems.  But for me if I'm painting on a paper-like surface I want to take advantage of the paper qualities and that will lead me to the next decision. and so on.  Sometimes I decide to alter the surface and apply a textural product to give the surface some added dimension or allow for future decisions.  

After choosing a surface I think about what my foundation color story will be. Usually it is two colors in the same family i.e. two yellows, two blues, etc.  plus one color that when it mixes with the initial two will create cool blends or secondary colors.  

Now I must consider technique.  My options are many: straight paint, paint plus glazing liquid, paint with water, paint and collage??? Water media, impasto, scraffito and so on. The list is pretty broad.  This decision leads me to a choice of  what kinds of acrylic to pull:  Heavy body, Fluids, OPEN, or High Flow.    Each one of these paint types have properties that can be utilized depending on what I want to accomplish.

All this has to happen before I get to pick up a brush.

Before it finally comes to picking up the brush I have one more question I must ask myself.  In what style?  Contemporary, Folk, Whimsical, realistic, impressionist, fantasy, or abstract?

The piece that is shown in this blog post shows a piece where I made all of those decisions and took the first step to laying down the foundation.  Here are my decisions: 

Surface:  Canson Water Color Board

Foundation Color Story:  Cobalt Teal, Phthalo Blue GS, Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold

Technique:  Water Media

Paint Type: High Flow Acrylics

Style: Impressionistic

I will admit that I went one step past my color story and blocked in some areas at the bottom with Van Dyke Brown Hue Fluid Acrylic since I don't have that color in High Flow.  Now, only time will tell what happens next.  I guess you will just have to wait to find out.

How do you begin a painting?

Artfully yours, Chris