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pmollica
09-19-2004, 11:03 AM
hello fellow painters
i'm recently starting to explore acrylics and could use some basic advice. what type of brushes (bristle or sythetic) does one use if they are painting with acrylics in a painterly manner , i.e thick paint? i'd like to get brush strokes that have "clean" beginnings and endings. in my experimentation, i seem to be getting jagged edges towards the end of my stroke (as i lift up the brush). i always assumed that bristle brushes were for oils and soft, synthetic were for water color and acrylics. is that true? thanks!
patti

Lady Carol
09-19-2004, 02:10 PM
Patti, you can use either soft of bristle for acrylics. My preference is for soft but many others here use the bristle sort for their paintings. I tend not to paint thickly so others who do may be able to give their insights. You might want to try a knife with acrylics and this may give a closer representation to what you are after. You can also paint on just about any surface your heart desires...paper, canvas, board, metal, etc.

Marty C
09-19-2004, 08:38 PM
Hi Patti,
You can paint in almost any style with acrylics - from watercolor-like washes to smooth applications, or add some medium or texturing gel and you can have very thick painterly work. It is a very flexible medium and with a little experimentation just about any result can be achieved.
I use synthetic flats, these give a nice edge if required and a clean finish at the end of a stroke if that is what you are after. Acrylics can be a little hard on brushes, keep them wet, if the paint dries on them it's tough to get it out.

Vicki_Oz
09-19-2004, 08:50 PM
Hi Patti

I use synthetic flats, angles and round brushes.....even though they're softer....a good flat brush will have a kind of 'bounce' which will allow those clean stokes you're looking for.....and yet they'll also allow you to do lovely soft washes.....I find them so much better than the hard bristle brushes.

Kind regards
Vicki

dspinks
09-19-2004, 10:19 PM
Creative Mark makes a synthetic brush (Pro Stroke) that is almost as stiff as bristle. The advantage is it doesn't get mushy when it's been wet for a while. Plus, they're the only synthetic I've found so far that comes in really large size flats and filberts, up to 2". I use them for both acrylics and water soluble oils.

Debra

pmollica
09-23-2004, 10:08 AM
thanks for the input - very helpful!

King Rundzap
09-23-2004, 02:51 PM
The advice about being careful with the brushes was good and very important. I began with acrylics, so it seemed "normal" to me, because I had nothing to compare it to, but after I later exclusively did oils for awhile, it was very hard when I finally started doing some acrylic work again, primarily because they dry so fast! I still struggle with this, because I still do 4 or 5 oils to every acrylic.

Some tips:

* Get your brush wet with water before you put paint on it. You can dry it on a paper towel afterward (so you don't put a lot of water in the paint if you do not want that), but this will help the paint not dry to the bristles right away.

* I tend to put very small "piles" of paint on my palette at a time. Try to keep it in a pile rather than thinly spreading it around (using larger amounts of paint would help, but I hate wasting too much). You might get a "skin" on the pile, but that's easy to poke through and there will still be wet paint underneath. If you spread it out thinly, it will dry in a few minutes.

* You can keep a squirt bottle filled with water nearby to periodically squirt the paint on your palette. It takes awhile to get the hang of doing this, though, as it's a fine balance between keeping the paint wet and making it too watery.

* You can add a retarder or "slow dry" gel to the paint. This is also difficult at first to get the hang of--adding the right amount, especially if you use smaller quantities of paint at a time. Retarder gels will help you get oil-like mixing effects on the support though.

* Some people suggest using cellophane to put over your palette in between picking up paint. That might work, but I think for me it would be more of a pain than a help, because especially after I'm further along into a work, I tend to paint by grabbing little dabs of a bunch of different colors, one right after the other, and if I had to keep taking the cellophane off, it would defeat the purpose.

* There are "stay-wet" palettes, designed to keep acrylics wet for a much longer time. They work by wicking up water from beneath a paper-like surface on which you place your paints. I don't know how well they work, as I haven't tried one yet, but keep intending to.

*Again, make sure that you very regularly dip your brush in something with soap and water (I use jars). Every once in a while, I also don't just dip it, but clean it fairly well, like you might at the end of the session. That seems to make clean up much easier at the end of the day.

Any other tips from other readers would probably be helpful (to me too). I often wish that someone would formulate an acrylic that had a drying time closer to say a half hour or even an hour rather than 5 minutes or instantly (in the case of thin paint drybrushed on the canvas).

Alena Hope
09-23-2004, 03:28 PM
I would suggest for a full bodied impasto type look to buy a thickening medium, I know Golden has some good ones, and they have really good full bodied paints too, I've noticed some brands are kind of watery. There are alot of mediums out there that change the density and texture of acrylics and they can be alot of fun to experiment with . I like to be very genous with my paint and layer it on thickly with pallett knives instead of brushes. I've found that thickening medium is essential for the right peak on my strokes. Also, if you are using a brush it should be wet,a nd if you are trying to make a consistent fine line it helps to really load the brush as heavy as possible.

habondia
09-23-2004, 03:37 PM
On the subject of brushes, also from an oil painter just now learning acrylics--
-Should the brushes be cleaned with a soft dishwashing soap?--or is water enough?
--Can you use small and delicate watercolour brushes too? (or larger, for that matter?)

Also a question about painting on watercolour paper: should it be sealed first with rabbit glue or something, or is it all right to paint directly onto it?

Thanks!

pmollica
09-23-2004, 03:55 PM
i like the effect of several colors all being in one brushstroke (loading my brush up with two or three colors, so they streak and slightly mix when painted on. i'm going through quite a lot of paint to get these clean, heavily loaded strokes, i'm wondering if using some type of medium will help give this streaky effect some more "definition". i notice that when acrylic is wet, these strokes look luscious, then they dry and they seem to lose their bold impact, they even seem to shrink. at what point does texture gel ( is that like heavy gel medium?) get added into the paint - as you are laying out each color?

lensman
09-23-2004, 03:56 PM
On the subject of brushes, also from an oil painter just now learning acrylics--
-Should the brushes be cleaned with a soft dishwashing soap?--or is water enough?
--Can you use small and delicate watercolour brushes too? (or larger, for that matter?)

Also a question about painting on watercolour paper: should it be sealed first with rabbit glue or something, or is it all right to paint directly onto it?

Thanks!

I use dishsoap. I found that water alone seemed to take forever to clean.

Yes, I have and do use very small watercolour brushes. Like many people here at WC I don't buy expensive brushes. Depending on their use I have often used brushes picked up at a dollar store! They won't last forever, of course, but for many applications they are fine.

Watercolour paper does not need to be sealed first; in fact doing so would seem to defeat the purpose of using watercolour paper if your intent is to somewhat mimic watercolour paint.

Glenn

Alena Hope
09-23-2004, 05:19 PM
Acrylics have mediums that can be glossy or semi glossy or matte, when you speak of the high gloss drying it may be because you are using a matte finish something or another, so if you use a gloss medium you will achieve that juicy look. I love that juicy look, it also helps to seal the painting after its dry with a high gloss arcylic clear coat, that makes it shine shine shine and brings out the deep colors really well.

King Rundzap
09-23-2004, 05:57 PM
On the subject of brushes, also from an oil painter just now learning acrylics--
-Should the brushes be cleaned with a soft dishwashing soap?--or is water enough?
--Can you use small and delicate watercolour brushes too? (or larger, for that matter?)


Use soap and water. I keep a jar filled with soap and water next to me when I'm painting (to clean the brush between colors, say), and a jar with just water (as a medium). When you're cleaning up after a session, clean your brushes well with soap and water--make sure you spread the bristles and clean all the way up to the ferrule. Then "reshape" your brushes with your fingers before putting them away.

You can use acrylic brushes for watercolor (I do that all the time), but some of the soft watercolor brushes might be pretty difficult to clean with acrylics, and might have a tendency to "shed". I'd experiment with cheaper brushes first (although note that this is a double-edged sword in that cheaper brushes have more of a tendency to shed in general, but you don't want to take a chance ruining expensive or favorite soft watercolor brushes).

The more important thing to avoid is mixing acrylic and oil brushes, because if they're not cleaned meticulously (and they're often not), mixing the two will have a tendency to ruin your brushes by splaying the ends. You can use the same brushes for all water-compatible media for the most part though.



Also a question about painting on watercolour paper: should it be sealed first with rabbit glue or something, or is it all right to paint directly onto it?

Thanks!


You do not need to size or prime the standard commercially available watercolor paper. Just apply water and paint and have fun :-)

King Rundzap
09-23-2004, 06:02 PM
i like the effect of several colors all being in one brushstroke (loading my brush up with two or three colors, so they streak and slightly mix when painted on. i'm going through quite a lot of paint to get these clean, heavily loaded strokes, i'm wondering if using some type of medium will help give this streaky effect some more "definition". i notice that when acrylic is wet, these strokes look luscious, then they dry and they seem to lose their bold impact, they even seem to shrink. at what point does texture gel ( is that like heavy gel medium?) get added into the paint - as you are laying out each color?

That's one thing that retarder gel is good for. It still won't act just like oils, but you can get oil-like effects easier if you mix your paints with some retarder gel.

tbezesky
09-23-2004, 11:08 PM
Hi,
I am going through the same process as you. I painted in oils for many years, but now now my needs and style have changed and I have found that I like acrylics better now. So lately I have been experimenting.
I have been using both bristle brushes and synthetics. Bristle for a more painterly style. I also put away the canvas and moved to masonite for a slicker surface.
What brand of acrylics did you like? I like N&W Finity, it seems to dry the slowest and very creamy. I think it doesn't lift as much when it gets tacky either.
I am very excited about the change.
No more thinner!
Yet I am happier with the process and my paintings. :)

Sceptre
09-26-2004, 03:30 PM
Regarding the use of a stay wet pallette I find that you have to be very careful as to how wet you make the sponge. I have been using System 3 acrylics which are quite runny to start with. If the sponge is too wet the paints tend to become even runnier and lose their opacity. They do remain workable for a couple of weeks though. I have seen adverts for Chromacolour recently and wondered if anybody on here uses them and what you think of them.

JamieWG
09-26-2004, 03:52 PM
The fluid retarder can be put into the spray bottle with the water too. :)

I use a stay-wet palette and love it. Yes, make sure it's not too wet! I also discovered that the small Masterson stay-wet palette fits right into my 8x10 pochade box! So, I can't wait to try a plein air excursion with that!

I found the best way to go from oils to acrylics was to let the acrylics be acrylics, and stop treating them like oils. I'm discovering that I like acrylics best on paper, and oils on canvas. I like using acrylics thinner than oils, and use more wash techniques and less impasto. Maybe that will change over time too. It sure is fun to experiment!


Hi,
I am going through the same process as you. I painted in oils for many years, but now now my needs and style have changed and I have found that I like acrylics better now.

Tracy!!! Long time, no see! Looking forward to your acrylic work. I can imagine it well-suited to your style. :)

Jamie

Pentimento
09-26-2004, 05:56 PM
I paint in both oils and acrylics. Here are a couple of tips I've learned for acrylics.
1) For keeping brushes in good condition:
You can buy a small plastic tote at a dollar store (like the kind people cart housecleaning supplies around in). The one I use is divided into three sections. The largest section I fill with water and a drop or two of dish detergent. This is the water I use for cleaning out my brush between paints (then I always wipe it with a paper towel for good measure). The next smaller section I fill with water only and use for picking up clean water as needed. The smallest section is only about 2 inches square. I use this for putting my brushes bristle down while I am working. Although I don't put any water in this section, there is just enough moisture draining down the bristles to keep the brushes moist and pliable until I use them again or finish for the day. I have found that at the end of the day I only have to rinse these brushes in running water to clean them. I've been using the same brushes for a couple of years.
2) For a palette, I've discovered that when I want to work with acrylics as if they were watercolors, a sta-wet palette or a butcher tray works well. When I want to use them as if they were oils, (thick and juicy) I mix each color that I want in a large enough quantity to (hopefully) complete the painting. Each color goes into a yogurt cup. I add whatever medium I want into this cup and mix to the desired consistency. That way I always have the same color and the same paint-to-medium ratio for the whole painting. I just cap them and store them in between sessions. I can paint directly from the cups or sometimes I pour out some into a butcher tray so I can do mixing between colors.

Good luck! Acrylics are a lot of fun!

tbezesky
09-26-2004, 06:10 PM
I found the best way to go from oils to acrylics was to let the acrylics be acrylics, and stop treating them like oils. I'm discovering that I like acrylics best on paper, and oils on canvas. I like using acrylics thinner than oils, and use more wash techniques and less impasto. Maybe that will change over time too. It sure is fun to experiment!




Tracy!!! Long time, no see! Looking forward to your acrylic work. I can imagine it well-suited to your style. :)

Jamie

Hi Jamie! :wave:

Over the past few months I haven't been been posting anything to speak of, because I have been devoting my time to experimentation and have ended up with acrylics.

I have basically the same aproach as you except I use brush-textured gessoed masonite for acrylics. Washes can look quite painterly too I think.
I haven't tried a portrait in acrylics yet. I think I will like how it works for hair and drappery better.
I did try Plein Aire acrylics and worked quite well and better than I thought.
Maybe I will post that when I finish I need to go out again.

Georgi
09-26-2004, 06:42 PM
How wonderfully informative and helpful this Thread has been. Thanks to you all. I know for one, you've helped me a lot. :)

Lee :cat: