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Textural Acrylic Painting Step By Step

December 30, 2008
haiku-65-smHaiku 65
Acrylic on Cradled Panel
8 x 8 x 2″

Just for fun, here’s a little how-to for this painting. If you’re inspired to experiment, I’d love to hear about it. I chose this one because I know how it came about. That’s not always the case with other pieces!

This painting was created using light molding paste as the textural foundation, applied in peaks and valleys like cake frosting, and then allowed to dry completely.  This takes at least two days.

After drying, the surface was  saturated again with  water using a spray bottle, just as you would do if you were going to paint wet-in-wet on watercolor paper. Note:  This product is very absorbent when dry, like a sponge, so if you decide to paint paint directly on the dry medium, you will get distinct and saturated blobs of color. Just one more of the many possibilities.

I then brushed onto the wet surface fluid acrylic colors which had been thinned with water so that they would subtly bleed across the hills and valleys. I enjoy watching the unexpected effects when the color starts to soak into some areas and pool in others.

After the second complete drying, I then brushed on a coat of very watered-down black and then sprayed it with water to thin it down some more.

Next, while that was wet, I blotted the surface gently with folded paper towels. I wanted the black to settle in the low spaces. I let this dry completely.

The last step was adding many coats of self-leveling clear gel, drying thoroughly between applications.

If you decide to experiment with light molding paste, let us know what you come up with (the brand I use is Golden, though they don’t pay me to advertise their products.)

Feel free to email me your jpegs of your experiments and I’ll be happy to put them up in the blog. My email address is martha(dot)marshall(at)gmail(dot)com.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2008 6:30 pm

    very cool!

  2. December 31, 2008 1:45 am

    Thanks for the how to … your process was a mystery to me.

    • December 31, 2008 8:45 am

      Edgar, most of it is a mystery to me too. I literally do not know how to deconstruct most of my paintings.

  3. December 31, 2008 2:11 am

    Looks like a really good aoili whirred around with dried Tuscan tomatoes and Basil. In other words, good enough to eat.

    • December 31, 2008 8:46 am

      Dina, you know how we both love our aioli. So sorry you mentioned it. I feel strangely hungry now.

  4. December 31, 2008 2:21 am

    My husband is a building contractor and there’s always leftover spackle and caulk around the house. I’ve been adding the caulk directly to paint and mixing it well to make it much thicker. I use the spackle with a palette knife for added texture, and use it much like you’ve described with the modeling paste. Spackle and caulk are cheaper than a lot of other texturizing substances and produce a great result.

    I enjoy reading your blog since I always learn something new.

    Jackie Griswold

    • December 31, 2008 8:48 am

      Jackie, I love to try building products as art supplies too. I thought the spackle would work in place of this molding paste, but I find it’s a little bit brittle and too easy to flake off. And I don’t think it’s absorbent. Other than that, I do use it, and just make sure it’s covered well with acrylics. Glad you are enjoying the blog!

  5. December 31, 2008 8:26 am

    Do you ever think about teaching your skills to others? How about making a video? There are just so many products out there and I don’t know what most of them do, like I didn’t know that light modeling paste was so absorbent when dry. I have some of that stuff, and I know I have opened the jar, but I don’t know why.

    • December 31, 2008 8:49 am

      Mary, I do have my camcorder now, and want to do some videos. Now that the Christmas madness is over and things are getting quiet, it might be a good time to work on some.

      I hesitate to sell specific products on my blog. But I guess since those are what I use, I should just talk about them.

  6. Sherrill Pearson permalink
    December 31, 2008 3:56 pm

    Thanks so much for that how-to Martha! I am trying so hard to jump into abstruct art.

    I love the free expressive energy I get when attempting a piece. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride. You get bummed when it’s not meeting expectations… I stick with it, and POW!…it suddenly takes on a life of its own and your spirits soar, because it’s making you feel satisfied and accomplished.

    I have bought three ‘how to’ books on this subject and have received a great education on how to approach creating abstract art. I also watch You-tube videos and have seen how some of these guys attack a canvas with abandon. I think an attitude of ‘abandon’ (with skill) is what is needed to create abstract art.

    I would love to know how you went about developing the ‘blue painting’ that you were working on. Was it done with chalk and acrylic Martha?

    Sherrill, in Montreal

    • December 31, 2008 5:49 pm

      Thank you for your great comment, Sherrill. You are so right about an abstract painting “taking on a life of its own.” That’s why I love it so much. I think we develop and eye for design, color, value, and all the other things that go into a good painting and those apply just as much to abstract art. Eventually it lets you know when you are on the right path.

      The blue painting was done this way: First a really big brush to lay down the main color areas, then a smaller brush to mostly finish the composition. At the end I used some paper towels to swirl on some paint strokes and some charcoal to make lines and marks. I need to show the partial video that I made! Maybe I will get the courage to do that very soon.

      By the way, the charcoal isn’t permanent, of course, so I go over that very lightly with a brush filled with clear acrylic.

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