Archive for category Medium: Acrylic

The Art of Angela Gaughan

There’s a variety of material in this utterly enthralling book, but by far the majority of it is of wildlife, and that’s what you’d buy it for. I’ve always been surprised by the success in the practical art market of books which deal with such sharp focus and fine detail. I don’t mean to denigrate the skills of amateur artists, but this kind of thing is almost certainly beyond the capabilities of more than a few. The truth is, I suspect, that it’s aspirational and you’d certainly be pleased if you could come up with something even half as good.

Although there are demonstrations here, they aren’t really the focus of the book, which is much more of a masterclass aimed at those who already have quite a lot more than the basic skills. If you can already paint animals, you’ll be glad at the lack of rehearsal of the basics you already know. As far as materials are concerned, Angela works mostly in acrylics.

The results are stunning. Angela absolutely understands form, colouring, posture and behaviour and here it’s not only her creatures that are believable, but their settings and their place in them. It’s true that she works a lot from photographs, but those don’t always give quite the right composition or feature the perfect specimen. The art is to provide what nature intended, rather in the way of the identification guide, which shows a typical rather than exact example.

The majority of the subjects are large wildlife – apes, elephants, big cats – but there are some domestic ones as well as some figurative work that demonstrates similar skills. There’s not enough of this to make it a reason for purchase, but it adds variety and a further dimension.

And now we must turn to the production, which is the jewel in the book’s crown. This is a slightly oversize volume and excellent use has been made of the space, both to showcase finished paintings and to feature details and stages at a good size. The quality of the reproduction is stunning. Angela’s work concentrates on fine detail and every hair and brushstroke are clearly visible. Going through, I started to wonder whether some of the images weren’t quite up to snuff and were perhaps not quite as sharp as they might be. Further inspection showed that this is absolutely not the case and that what I was actually seeing was the texture of the painting surface. Yes, it’s that good.

Only a hundred years ago, colour reproduction was so coarse that you could see the individual dots of ink with the naked eye. Photo litho improved that and then mechanical tolerances in the printing presses themselves allowed much finer register and smaller dots, which you now need a powerful magnifier to see.

For all that, there’s much that can go wrong and choice of paper is a major stumbling block. Search Press’s production department has been at the top of its game for some time, but this surpasses anything I’ve seen, even from more august publishing houses dealing with fine art. That they have achieved this with a cover price of just under £20 is barely credible and you have to suspect witchcraft may be involved! If you’re involved with book production, you should have a copy of this, just to remind yourself of what’s possible. You have nowhere to hide and there are no excuses for anything less.

So, to sum up: an amazing book in every respect.

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Dynamic Seascapes || Judith Yates

Social media gets a bad press. However, it was also responsible for the genesis of this book. The publishers of Leisure Painter and The Artist magazines put one of Judith’s pictures on Twitter. I thought it looked interesting and decided to investigate further. It quickly became apparent that she is one of the best seascape artists I’d seen for a long time, so I suggested that Search Press might like to talk to her. And here, a couple of years later, we are.

Water is one of the hardest subjects to paint. It’s hardly ever static, has no real substance and no colour of its own, yet it presents in many different moods, almost all of them related to movement and surroundings. So, how do you represent that in a single image? Well, that’s what the book is all about. The subtitle is “how to paint seas and skies with drama and energy” and it has that in spades.

Working in watercolour, acrylic, ink and mixed media, Judith will show you how to capture all the forms and moods of the sea, from a calm evening estuary to storm-blown waves breaking on a rocky shore. Although water is the primary subject, Judith does not forget the shorelines, landscapes and of course skies that make up a complete seascape. She’ll show you how light both affects the appearance of water and is affected by it through refraction and reflection. She’ll also demonstrate ways of capturing the solid appearance of a breaking wave and how to create the sense of power and movement that are essential to giving your image a feeling of being anything but static and two-dimensional.

There are plenty of examples, exercises and demonstrations as well as explanations of the way water behaves in just about every situation. The book is every bit as exciting as its subject.

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Expressive Abstracts in Acrylic || Anita Hörskens

It seems now to be traditional that books on abstract painting are project based and this useful guide is no exception. The main reason, I suspect, is that it’s very hard to teach the creative aspect of the topic. The basic principle is that you extract or abstract the essence of your subject and portray it in a way that tells the viewer how you felt about it and what it was like to be there in the moment. How far you take this is entirely up to you – there may be quite a few recognisable shapes and forms, or perhaps none at all. You may be wishing to express a mood rather than a sense of place, for instance.

All this is rather esoteric, but it’s something to consider before embarking on the process. What you can teach, of course, is techniques and that’s what this guide aims to do in the fifty-five featured projects. You’ll have the opportunity to experiment with colour, contrast, glazing, composition, negative shapes and paint pouring as well as exploring materials and surfaces. There’s a lot to get to grips with and the simple exercises that are presented give you plenty of examples to work with as well as ways to add your own personal touch – the instructions are concise and allow for plenty of interpretation, which is, after all, the name of the game in this field.

There are other guides that offer a similar approach, but this one is about as comprehensive as it gets.

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Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes – Landscapes in Acrylics || Barry Herniman

There’s something for everyone in this welcome addition to an excellent series. Barry covers trees, rocks, buildings, water, skies and even seas. Demonstrations use the watercolour technique, so you’ll be working on paper without impasto. I’ve yet to see traceable outlines that work on canvas, though I can’t see why it would be impossible.

This isn’t just a good book within the series, though, it’s a very thorough grounding in landscape elements and techniques in its own right and something to consider even if you don’t want pre-drawn outlines.

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Acrylic Paint Pouring || Tanja Jung

I’ll admit that paint pouring, which is allegedly “the latest technique to take the art world by storm” leaves me cold. This time next year, will we be looking back and wondering what it was all about? I think we will.

However, if you want to be taken by storm and are thinking of dipping your toe in the water, you won’t find a better introduction than this. Quite rightly, no previous knowledge is assumed and there are clear explanations of materials, working methods and – crucially – what happens and why. To achieve control, you really do need to understand your materials and preparation counts for a lot, saving countless messy and potentially costly mistakes.

The core of the book is a series of sixteen straightforward projects, each disposed of in four pages. These get you practising techniques as well as discovering creativity; the lack of complication and over-thinking mean you’re never going to feel lost. There’s no point in simply learning to follow paint-by-numbers instructions – you’re always going to be wanting to branch out on your own, which you’ll be ready to when you’ve finished here.

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DVD Acrylic Painting || Chris Rose

My initial notes on this were rather frustrated – “talking head, too much detail, do I need to know this?” By the end, however, I was converted and I’m prepared to say that this is one of the best introductions to acrylic painting you could wish for. At nearly two-and-a-half hours, it’s longer than many films and, yes, it does go into a lot of detail. Do you need a full explanation and demonstration of stretching paper, for instance? Well, if you’re a beginner and you’ve never done it before, yes you do, and this is one of the few films that will show you the whole process in real time. I stopped banging my head on the desk long enough to give this a big tick. One-nil to Chris.

After a fair quantity of patient introduction, it’s time to get down to painting and the main body of the film is a single demonstration of a lakeside scene that includes a distant hillside, water and trees. The hillside allows Chris to show recession, the water brings in reflections and there are two lots of trees – middle and further distance, so detailed and not-detailed. It’s a rather brilliant choice and means that the work can be demonstrated in almost real time rather than having different topics introduced in separate demonstrations that are necessarily curtailed. If you’ve ever sat in front of a film muttering “but that’s the bit I wanted to see”, well, you’ll see it. Two-nil to Chris.

Oh, and finally, I like the man. He’s a warm and generous demonstrator who gets under your skin. He’s interesting even when he’s reminding you to clean your brushes before the paint hardens and they become useless. Three-nil and a clean sweep.

http://www.learnartandcrafthobbies.co.uk/portfolio/acrylic/

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Painting Portraits in Acrylics || Hashim Akib

“Exciting” isn’t normally a word I’d associated with portraiture. “Thorough”, “lifelike”, maybe even “vibrant”, but it’s not normally a subject to get the pulses racing.

This, though, is astounding. Hashim’s style is quite blocky and, if you were looking for almost photographic realism, this is not for you. You actually have to look at the finished results for a few seconds before the features of the faces emerge. When they do, however, they’re full of character and these are people whose presence you can feel. This is something that all portrait painters strive for, but it’s one of the most difficult qualities to achieve. If personality is your goal, place your order now.

I think it also helps that Hashim appears simply to like people. I don’t think it would be possible to get results like this if you simply regarded your subjects as a job. There’s a warmth here, and an understanding of the life and light behind mere structure and outward appearance. This isn’t really something that can be taught, so I’d suggest you might simply want to learn from example here – don’t expect a magic ingredient.

In practical terms, the book offers all the variety you could want. There are male and female figures, different hair styles and skin colours and a wide range of ages. Hashim explains colour, lighting and perspective and he’s also rather good on the main features – eyes, noses, ears, etc. Here, his style is your friend as its vibrancy makes what is inevitably a rather technical section interesting and – well – exciting.

Although it’s inevitably on the idiosyncratic side – no good if you hate Hashim’s style – this is nevertheless a very complete guide.

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Acrylic Painting Step-by-Step || Wendy Jelbert, Carole Massey, David Hyde

A reissue of an earlier compilation. You can read the original review here. There doesn’t appear to be any re-origination and the image quality isn’t really up to modern standards, however.

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Painting Dog Portraits in Acrylics || Dave White

This extensive study will tell you everything you could conceivably want to know about painting dogs. It is not, it should be said, a guide for the beginner and Dave makes no attempt to explain the very basics. However, if you have some facility with painting in general and animals in particular, you’re unlikely to want any more than you get here.

There’s plenty of technical information about hair, fur, eyes, ears, noses and structure as well as the all-important methods of combining all those details into a result that looks like your subject. Dave is a professional dog painter and his audience – the owners themselves – is a demanding one. They don’t want a dog, they want their dog and Dave explains what to look for in order to capture the character of the subject as well as how to transfer that to canvas.

Although there is a section on working from photographs, which can provide a useful aide-mémoire, Dave explains the importance of spending time with the animal you’re about to paint in order to get to know it properly. He also deals with the important but often overlooked matter of the owner, of how the two relate and also what the person who is ultimately paying for the work is looking for.

This is a thorough and thoughtful guide that delivers on every count.

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Acrylics || Adrian Burrows

This is a further instalment in GMC’s series of media guides for the complete beginner. Slim and uncomplicated, these introduce basic techniques in a straightforward manner and include lessons, exercises and demonstrations that will guide even the most tentative through the processes required.

There isn’t a lot more to say than that. Adrian Burrows’ style is readily accessible and he includes a good variety of subjects and techniques. That he mostly works in the oil rather than the watercolour/wash style is no bad thing as it reduces complication and confusion. These are not intended to be exhaustive guides, and certainly not masterclasses – there are plenty of books that offer further study if you decide that the medium is for you and you want to take it further.

As a starting point, this is hard to better.

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