How to test and analyze your acrylic mediums

What’s the best brand of acrylic paints?

I get asked that question a lot when I teach acrylic workshops.

When I was an undergraduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, a professor I liked and respected touted a particular brand of acrylics as the “best.” So, I took her word for it and started using that brand over others. But there are lots of excellent brands out there and once I became a bit more experienced, I got curious about what made different brands of paint different.

The truth is there are a number of good paints out there and rather than telling you about the merits of each, I thought I’d show you how I test acrylic mediums in my own studio. The results are always interesting. And this empowers you to make your own informed choices about what will work best for you.

Share in the comments below what brands you like to use? Do you stick with one brand for everything? Do you mix and match?
Have you ever had a really (or really great) bad experience with a particular paint or medium? Do tell!

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How to Start a Painting?

I had a fabulous, meaty question from a subscriber recently who wrote to say she had recently switched from a 30-year graphic design practice to painting and was finding it tough.

She asked “How do I start a new painting? My paintings have no consistency.
Do I just let it flow? Or does in need to have a set direction?”

This is the question that comes up when we begin to take a more focused approach to painting. When it becomes for us more than a pastime or hobby and becomes a passionate pursuit or profession.

Usually, it’s not the painting that’s tough, it’s the thoughts that come up – the judgments, the inner critic.

Here are some things I suggested she try:

1. Create a studio journal. Writing before starting a painting. Blurt everything out.
2. Step back from the thoughts that are coming up. Become aware of what the quality of the thoughts you have while painting.
3. Set a timer during your painting process and step back, pause every 20 minutes or so and notice what is going on. Check in with your body, emotions, thoughts.
4. If the thoughts are not supportive, replace with more supportive thoughts.
5. Take out all your paintings completed thus far and look at them as a group. Journal about them from a curious, non-judgmental perspective. Don’t worry whether you love it or hate it. Just get curious. Write down from a neutral voice what you are noticing.
6. Think from a broader perspective about what the paintings are about. What are they teaching you? What are they showing you?

 

 

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Using Acrylic Pouring Medium as a Non-Toxic Resin-Like Coat

I try to keep everything in my studio non-toxic and was excited when I developed this method for creating a resin look without using highly toxic epoxy resins.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBAzfxWKMHY?rel=0

 

Here I answer some specific questions I got from an artist in Guatemala on drying time with the pouring medium in different climates. Also, about adding gold leaf or other metal leaf in pouring medium. I got cut off but don’t worry, it continues in the next video.

 

Continuation of questions in previous video about using Pouring medium with inks and spray paint:

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Worst Mistake Acrylic Painters Make

After one of my acrylics talks a few years ago, an artist pulled me aside and said,
“Now, I finally understand why my paintings are falling apart! I wish I had known what you just taught me 10 years ago!”

My heart went out to her. I’ve made more technical mistakes with my art over the years than I care to recount. That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing with artists how to build a sound and stable paint film.

I don’t want to hinder anyone’s creative process. That’s the last thing I want! That’s why I offer some sound alternatives here to get the same look without harming the paint film.

Please, please share this info with all your painter friends, artists groups, classes, professors, etc. I’ve found in the 15 years I’ve been teaching this to artists of all levels from those with 40 years experience and paintings in museums to the absolute beginner, only about 5% have ever heard of underbinding. Let’s make sure no more artists have their paintings fall apart by something that could easily be avoided.

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