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January 2016

Bring on the Color: Layer upon Layer


I am all about working in color layers whether it be in strictly painting mode or mixed media mode.  I spent the day going through a lot of old work and pulling out things that could do with a makeover.  I am particularly fond of Canson Art Boards with the Montval watercolor paper surface.  They are strong and take a lot of layers without problems and are relatively inexpensive! How's that for a good recommendation!  I use them a lot for demos in my classes and inevitably end up with several that have a beginning with no place to go.  I just get out my brayer and ink it up with some of my favorite colors and roll on some delicious layers. This works especially well when there is texture on the surface as the color layers grab and skip quite delightfully over the surface leaving behind an interesting new beginning place.

In 2015 I decided to make myself really uncomfortable and start working on large canvases. This is one of those pieces.  The color layers, done with Fluid Acrylics and High Flow Acrylics (Golden Artist Colors, of course) were applied in a wet fashion over the large canvas as it was laying flat on my work table. By wetting only certain areas of the canvas at one time I found I could control a lot of the movement within the composition. The paint will spread right up to the edge of the wet area and stop dead in its track! Since I didn't really want drips, but i did want the colors to co-mingle and interact, this worked perfectly.  The other trick is to always use transparent pigments for these bleeds and puddles.  That way you are guaranteed a "mud free" zone.  Of course there is a lot of editing to be done to create the composition that usually ends up announcing its presence to me if I look at it long enough.

I use color layers in the editing phase of my work as well.  Most often I start with a milky opaque glaze to block out the areas that need to be pushed back allowing the composition to come into focus.  What works best for that is Titan Buff, an off white opaque color, which comes in Fluid, Heavy Body, or High Flow formulations.  You can use it with Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Best studio pal in the world, by the way!) to create a semi-opaque glaze to cut in an around the shapes you want to preserve.  On the other hand, you can switch things up and do the same thing with a dark scrumptious color like Prussian Blue Hue, Dioxazine Puple or a Van Dyke Brown Hue.  For the flower piece above I decided to use Prussian Blue Hue and a tiny bit of Carbon Black to make it really dark. In some areas you will see that there are variations of this deep blue which appear more purple.  Periodically I would throw in some Dioxazine Purple and mix it up giving me more variations.

This is just a little insight into how you can use color layers to create interest in your work.  Don't forget to pick up a copy of my newest book: Acrylic Color Explorations so you can get more handy color tips.  Keep your eyes posted for more interesting posts on color this year as we explore together!

I'd love to hear how you using color layering in your work? Will you share?



Artfully yours, Chris