Whenever I hear people say "Acrylics dry too fast" I roll my eyes internally. Yes, acrylics dry quickly, IF you are using them very thin, IF you are painting outside on a hot dry day in the full sun, IF you compare them with oil paints (which is like comparing dragonfruit to apples - both fruit, but way, way different from each other).
Acrylics actually dry much more slowly than most are aware of. They take days to months to fully cure, for the acrylic to clarify, and the more medium you add, the longer the process. Me, I use lots of mediums, in terms of both variety and quantity. Lots and lots. My Liquid acrylic colours are rarely larger than 120mL containers, while my gels populate my increasingly cramped studio in 3.78mL to 16L buckets. And I'm constantly running out.
The most frustrating part of this is the TIME! Spend 10 minutes to an hour in the studio, wait 2-3 days before being able to get back in there for the next layer. By the time the next layer is ready to go on I've already forgotten what I had planned for it to be, and something new happens. My pieces are changing, layer by layer, the direction rarely constant, the intention too often a tangent of the initial intention.
Acrylics dry too slowly. Still trying to figure out if it's a good thing, or a bad thing.
It's been about 15 years since I've flogged my wares in City Park, as I've been so busy with books, Tri-Art and trying to figure out if I can still paint. But I can't keep hiding from public perusal (or ridicule), so I'm going to be brave and share some bits and pieces at the Women's Art Festival tomorrow.
What has come out of a year of experimenting and suffering from being struck by some serious creative blocks has been unexpected. I seem to be veering away from abstraction, I suppose in my search for an anchor to my work. So horizon lines, power lines, boat lines, and birds are starting to populate surfaces that were actually intended for much more spare and subtle visuals.
I'm curious, though a little nervous, to see what the response will be. Girding loins.
A little FYI to acrylic painters out there: If it's a hot, hazy and humid day out there (and boy is it ever here today!) I would advise against painting unless your studio is air-conditioned. Acrylics dry through process of evaporation, and when the humidex is reading high percentages (we're at 85% here and rising) the water will only very sluggishly move out of the paint film. This will leave you with a very fragile surface, that when dry to the touch, will still be very sensitive to moisture of any kind. If you work in layers like me, don't jeopardize the structural integrity of your paintings by packing on the mediums right now. Acrylics need time to cure, and when it's humid, that time is much longer than you'd anticipate.
So be prudent, and go re-energize yourself instead. Take a break from painting. organize the studio, read a book, enjoy a cold drink on a patio, take some photographs. The paint can wait.
A few years ago, a horizon line crept into my colour fields, breaking up the open looseness of my paintscape into something hinting at a landscape. I've been struggling with it, and have now come to embrace it's anchoring.
And then, out of nowhere, suddenly there are swallows. Well, truth be told, I see these birds every time we go boating, they are darting around everywhere at the harbour, their nests placed at regular intervals under the slip docks. They rest on the boat lines, and chatter incessantly. I have always found them enchanting birds, for their compact but intense energy, and the poetry in those forked tails.
But I don't paint birds, or at least, I didn't use to. In recent years my preference has been to steer away from anything representational beyond the line and the text, but suddenly....well, it's just strange and I didn't expect it at all.
I'm going to leave them where they perch for now, locked in their conversation, and we'll see if they stay, or if they fly away.
I have just returned home from a trade show in Minnesota, where it snowed, and the show was good, though sparsely attended. From a business perspective, it was OK, but not spectacular. The abundance of time between customers, however, gave me time to play on a canvas.
I find that in the studio, there seems to be a force-field of perceived pressure around me - to make something good, something momentous, something beautiful. More often than not, I retreat from it, unable to get loose, to let the creativity just flow.
In a setting where the expectation (mine) is dramatically reduced, where the intention is simply to demonstrate either a product or a process over a long, but continuously interrupted, period of time, I find myself tapping into that creative stream and things just happen.
The resulting paintings, however small or ill planned, take on a radiance and flow that is rarely found in the pieces I agonize over in my private studio. It all happens while I'm talking with people, showing how a particular colour enhances a texture, or layering another medium to show it's flow, while watching and listening to the cacophony of the dance and drama of sales scenarios all around me - art just happens here, like an afterthought, a by-product.
My challenge now, is to find that freedom, tap in to the laissez faire vibe and paint like EVERYONE is watching - because when it's just me, it's somehow empty.
This is a glimpse of the new acrylic skin I've been working on. It may be new, but the colour scheme is old. I have not yet shaken the chill of winter from my palette. Waiting for spring to work it's magic and bring more vibrancy to my creative spirit...which is in great need of a boost.
Sometimes there are pieces in the studio that I ignore, they usually started as examples in a workshop or demo, and end up being the surface I clean my brushes on to before they hit water. I think this was one of those pieces.
I look at it every day, as it hangs above my desk in my home office. It's probably been there for three years now. There are elements that I love in it, although the whole may not be as cohesive as I'd like. The disparate elements of it, the textures, and colour shifts, appear to me as the details that pop out. Those details keep me looking into the piece, which I realize that bit by bit, I am intrigued, if not enchanted.
I have recently become involved with the Kingston Prize, biennial national competition for contemporary portraits of Canadians by Canadian artists.
The mission is to encourage and reward the creation of contemporary portraits by Canadian artists, through a biennial competition for paintings and drawings.
Spread the word about this prestigious competition to any and all Canadian artists. The competition for the 2013 prize is now open for applications.
These are my paint "babies", pieces from Rain Dance, some fused with bands of liquid mirror (most awesome of colours by Tri-Art Acrylics. They are 5 x 7", and mounted on to heavy weight wooden frames. I like them a lot. Many thanks to Jonathan Sugarman for the fab new photos!
Rain Drop I
Rain Drop III
Rain Drop II
A colleague of mine asks for advice on publishing his book and suddenly I am lost in daydreams, and poring over a file I've been actively ignoring for a while.
Can I, should I, dare I try getting another book out?! I have some fun ideas that I revisit every time I get frustrated with how the art is going (or mostly not going). The second book I produced carved huge swaths of stress into the fabric of my life, gave me a wicked grey streak, and made me question my madness on a daily basis. I swore I would never make myself go through that again, and yet....
The feeling of accomplishment and grown-up-ness that comes with completing a project like a book, is unlike anything I've felt since the natural home-birth of my child. Really, really, crazy hard, but something beautiful and fulfilling came from it, and my life is richer from having created it.
Not sure what this means, but I'm re-opening the file and putting it on my desktop. If this becomes a thing, I'll let you know. We will see how strong the pull is, and if I'm strong enough to resist it.