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Discworldjunkie
09-25-2005, 01:16 PM
Hello. I can't stand the way I paint. I am ready to progress. I like realism but not nesesarily photographic realism as our respected Paul Corfield paints, close though. I would like to continue painting in acrylics if possible because of drying time, ease of clean up, and no solvent varnish or turps or whatever. Love my water oils but you still have to have a gross varnish and then wait a year to varnish, forget it.

I thought up a technique that I was using on this painting I have been up all night working on. This is the only sample I want to share right now because it is in progress and really starting to frustrate me.

The canvas is Fredrix pre primed canvas panel. It is 11x14 inches. I started this painting in '04 and it was for my pet portrait gallery on my web page but recently I noticed that it really was crappy.

I DO NOT like the impressionists, post impressionists, or anything I term 'modern' art. And we won't even talk about abstract. I love rich color, beauty, and fantasy as in fantasy art NOT SURREALISM. Can't think of other words right now I am zonked.

At any rate. I want help. I want to progress and have a professional quality to my work. Any suggestions?

Oh, and the technique I 'invented' that I mentioned earlier: to paint wet into wet on an acrylic painting I brush Liquitex slow dri blending fluid on the area I want to work then paint into that. I use paints very thin and sparingly to avoid Van Gogh like glops. I HATE glops.

The reason for this 'technique' is that acrylics would dry the INSTANT I brush it on the canvas. No blending time. I, again, use the paints watered down to ink-like consistancy. This makes the paints very thin in color too and it is hard to cover areas so layer after layer after layer after layer is used and this also gets on my nerves. It gets on my nerves because I still have that 'paint-by-numbersishness' to my work even after all that work!

I have posted large and large close up images of the painting I am working on at this webpage: http://untilthen.freeservers.com/craggy.html PLEASE do not post my pictures here in this thread. Thank You.

Any help? New technique? Book? Video? DVD? I really can't afford to buy a video because the ones that seem the best are $100.00 or more and I cannot afford a course either. I can try saving for a course but it won't be soon.

If you want me to clarify anything let me know.

Thank You
:)

damar
09-25-2005, 01:54 PM
I can sympathise with you because I have similar problems with not liking my style of work and not knowing how to break out it. (The "I-Can't-Stand-The-Way-I-Paint" problem)
I'm going to have to tell you though, the painting of your cat is beautiful. Maybe you should set it aside and not look at it for a week, work on something else. Maybe try more transparent layers.
Have you ever considered solvent-free oils?
Really, the "craggy" cat painting is quite nice.

WRoget
09-25-2005, 01:58 PM
Well.

First off, a lot of people would be extremely pleased to be able to capture the texture of fur as well as you did. What was missing, really, for giving the cat softness, was an underpinning of "mouse color" greys to simulate the fur under the surface that is partly shadowed and obscured from focus by the outermost hairs.

Second, the irony of comparing your portrait of a highly textured animal - a cat with long fur, against nudes, is interesting. Have you tried painting nudes?

In terms of concrete advice - the paintings you like were almost certainly created using a method of underpainting - which has different names depending on the dictionary and/or the primary pigment. Look up grisaille, that term will lead you to the others as well. There have been several good threads here about underpainting, demonstrating the wide range of ways the method can be applied. Basically, it amounts to developing the image entirely in a monochrome - umber and white, black and white, payne's grey and white, etc - bringing it to a high degree of finish developing the tonal values in as finished a way as possible - and then applying layers of thinned color (half glazes) and full glazes to develop color.

This can certainly help to minimize the appearance of brush strokes - though, if you look carefully, you'll see that in the paintings you like, brush strokes are often visible, and employed to highten the illusion the painting creates.

You might also consider researching egg tempera - although traditionally images in that medium are built up from layers of crosshatching, many artists now are employing a more oil-like approach - blending wet to wet - and achieving very soft transitions.

WRoget
09-25-2005, 02:08 PM
One other thought -

If you chose to explore underpainting - another element that would help you achieve smoothness and reduce the sheer number of layers, is to start with a colored ground - that is - before doing anything else, cover the whole canvas in a color that is
1) harmonious with your intended result - anything from a neutral gray to an earth-tone to a primary if that color harmonizes with the final colors
2) approximately in the mid-range tonally -

this way - you do not have to build your darks all the way down from white - though you do end up building your lights up from somewhere in the middle. If your intended image is on the dark side - start with a darker mid tone anyways, and vice versa. Additionally, the lights will appear brighter from having been built up with pigment.

maverick
09-25-2005, 02:48 PM
I was going to offer some advice, but then I saw the painting. It certainly doesn't look as bad as you described. I must be a crappy painter too!

As for varnishing oils...you don't have to wait a year. If you paint as thinly as you're trying to, you should be able to varnish as soon as it's dry.

dbclemons
09-25-2005, 03:59 PM
Discworldjunkie, first off I haven't used acrylics in a long time, mainly for the plastic look they create, and the blending issues they have, much like what you're experiencing.

However, WRoget's advise to try more glazing and underpainting is one I would second. You might also try a larger softer brush to fan out the paint more, or push it out with your finger or rag. If you paint a lighter shade close to the edge of a darker one, you can simulate a blend of sorts; sort of like painting the bottom fur layers first. You can also paint over watercolors or diluted acrylic, and save your opaques for last.

The standard rule for oil varnishing is to wait until at least 6 months, 12 months for thick impasto. If you paint extremely thin with fast dry mediums and such you could varnish sooner, according to Gamblin. You can use retouch varnish when it's dry to touch, but you'll still need to add a finishing varnish later.

Lady Carol
09-25-2005, 04:10 PM
You already have lots of great advice. I don't want to add any fruther comments until I find out......

How long have you been painting?

Joannie
09-25-2005, 04:11 PM
Hello unhappy one
You should not be so hard on yourself. The only thing I could say is that you are using too strong tones in the colour - look at the subltey of the blue eyes in the photo compared with your strong blue. Many people say they dont like acrylics because the colours are too garrish - but they can all be mixed and you can create soft subtle tones. The only other thing that sprang to mind when comparing the photo to your work, is the lack of warmth in your colours for the cats fur. Its a wonderful start - it simply takes time and the more you question the more you learn.

JanB
09-25-2005, 06:22 PM
Underpainting and glazing is good advice. Also there are mediums that will reduce the amount of bushstroke you see. If you are using the frederix panels I hope they are the archival ones if you are selling your work or at least coating all 6 sides of the regular ones with acrylic medium to seal them. Also if you are looking for that highly refined look cotton canvas may not be your best bet. You might consider Ampersand clayboard (smooth)or gesso board, Innerglow panels or making your own ultra-smooth hardboard panels(much cheaper than buying ready made). Fine grade smooth portrait linen might do also. The wet in wet technique you describe will give you more blending time, and if you put the paint on just a little thicker you can mist with a spray bottle as you work an area to get a softer blended seam between areas of differing value and color. The look you're after is going to be challenging to achieve with acrylics because of their dry time but I think it can be done with the right materials and technique. I believe that you will find these through experimentation. The look you desire especially in terms of animal portraits is much easier to achieve with soft pastel on velour paper...don't know if you'd consider giving that a try.

Charlie's Mum
09-25-2005, 07:01 PM
Oh dear - you are in a tizz with your work - which I think is far, far better than you give yourself credit for!
Some good advice above - but I think you are, perhaps, expecting too much at this stage with acrylics - the works you admire would have ben painted in oils!
However, you could try a much smoother surface to begin with - mdf, gessoed (and sealed on all other surfaces), then sanded and gessoed again, and perhaps a third time, would give a really smooth surface for you.
Similarly, matboard treated with gesso and sanded.
If you have the time and inclination, you may find the Classroom Threads, here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=233952) to be of some use.:)

3chaway9
09-25-2005, 07:43 PM
I think your painting is great.....

mickhawkes
09-25-2005, 08:03 PM
Just be proud of what you've done, I would be

Mick

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 04:13 AM
You already have lots of great advice. I don't want to add any fruther comments until I find out......

How long have you been painting?

I started teaching myself how with acrylics in 1999. Been painting off and on since then. Since I don't have a clue what I am doing I get frustrated easily and have to stop thinking it is me and that I will not ever learn to paint.

As for comparing my animal painting to nudes, well I don't have a painting of an animal from Bouguereau, sp?, and an animal portrait I like I am not allowed to post due to copyright. http://www.pet-portraitartist.com

Thank You all for your help and kind words. I guess I am trying to paint every hair when I should just not. I don't know. And trying to replicate the colors of the cat is hard since I naturally like cool tones and someone suggested the tones of the cat were actually warmer. Sometimes I see grey sometimes I see a light reddish brown I am even seeing green reflected from the plants. And I can't paint flowers. I cringe at the thought of having to paint them.

And I want to be able to paint ANYTHING from nudes, to Boris Vallejo fantasy art, to pet and people portraits. It is just paint. It is just shapes and color. It should not be this hard.

:)

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 04:23 AM
Maybe try more transparent layers.
Have you ever considered solvent-free oils?
Really, the "craggy" cat painting is quite nice.

Hello. Thank You for replying. As for layers. If my layers were any more colorless I wouldn't have to use paint. That is possibly a problem. My paints might be too thin. :)

And I have some Grumbacher water mixable oils but they are messy and the oil and pigment is harmfull to the enviroment so I can't just wash my brush jug water in the sink I have to save it in an old milk jug and all the paper pallets too because you are supposed to chuck these things like turps and batteries. They should be considered hazardous waste. At least that is what was said in a thread a while ago in the oil painting forum.

:)

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 04:32 AM
the works you admire would have ben painted in oils!

But I have been told before that acrylic painters can achieve an oil painted look.


However, you could try a much smoother surface to begin with

This painting I did in '04. I had considered it finished. That is why it is on canvas panel because that is cheap and available locally. I am experimenting with painting on Strathmore 400 drawing paper glued to the panel. http://www.donatoart.com Donato uses a similar technique and he is a professional making the huge dollars for his stuff. I have not actually started a painting on a panel that I have glued paper to as yet because I just now was able to aford to buy some paper and I have been trying to repaint or correct some stuff on my pet portraits all of them are on canvas panel.

:)

dcorc
09-26-2005, 04:34 AM
Hi Discworldjunkie - just spotted this thought I'd drop by - I like the cat painting a lot - but I can see what you're saying about where you want to go - as Maureen and JanB say - for the sort of things you want, a flat surface is really a good start.

I think everyone's also given you excellent and well-informed advice, especially WRoget.

Overall - what you're describing is the oils look of a 19thC academic classical style level of "finish", which - if you don't want to do it in oils (and its not even easy there!! ) - is probably more readily emulated digitally, or by airbrush, than by any other means - though as WRoget says, tempera, or acrylics handled in a tempera-like way are possibilities.

Courage - you hold yourself to high standards! :)

Dave

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 05:03 AM
Overall - what you're describing is the oils look of a 19thC academic classical style level of "finish", which - if you don't want to do it in oils (and its not even easy there!! ) - is probably more readily emulated digitally, or by airbrush, than by any other means - though as WRoget says, tempera, or acrylics handled in a tempera-like way are possibilities.


Any instructional materials on this style of painting? I also like Boris Vallejo and have a how to book of his on the way. I just want something more smoother, beautiful, you know something that has a lot of color richness and looks as though I really did work as hard as I did on it rather than slop it on the canvas which is what a lot of my art and the 'impressionists' stuff is like to me.

As for airbrush, well I did try that but when I started really examining airbrush paintings I did not like them very much. And digital might be excelent in others works, I don't know, but the digital art I have seen is really crappy. And also, I would think there would be a snob thing about digital. If I told someone I create a pet portrait from their photograph with my computer they would look at me and say 'so you just use a computer program to make my picture look like a painting and then you print it?' And think 'well I'll buy it for a quarter because seems to me it ain't worth much more than that.' And that is the way I feel about digital art in a way. The computer does all the work and once you are done you have no real original and can print billions of prints quite easily. I don't know. I am sure there is really good, beautiful digital art but not for me. Sorry. No offense. I have my opinions and I tell it like I see it.

Thank You
:)

Jenny32
09-26-2005, 09:58 AM
You've gotten a lot of great advice . . . in order to achieve those rich colors an underpainting is definitely a necessity. Try using a watered down burnt umber to place in the values and then glaze over that.

When I paint portraits, I always mix fluid retarder in with my paints . . . then, about 15-20 minutes after I paint a hand or face, etc. and it has dried, I dip my brush in a small amount of the retarder and brush it over the area. This takes all the colors and blends them so the graduation in color is seamless. It takes practice to get it right, but I'm pleased with the results. Now, it's not going to be perfect and you're never going to achieve the same results as you would with oils, but I think you'll be pleased. :)

Good Luck!
Jenny

maverick
09-26-2005, 10:31 AM
Since I don't have a clue what I am doing I get frustrated easily and have to stop thinking it is me and that I will not ever learn to paint.

I used to think like this every day. Now I only think this way once or twice a week. The only way to overcome this is to keep painting no matter how you feel. Paint more. Practice will pay off.

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 11:36 AM
You've gotten a lot of great advice . . . in order to achieve those rich colors an underpainting is definitely a necessity. Try using a watered down burnt umber to place in the values and then glaze over that.


I tried a grayscale underpainting once and it just looked as though I colored in a photograph after putting color on. I don't understand the idea of an underpainting. It is like painting the darn thing twice.

And I DID paint in a grey area first before making the fur. If you look at the ear picture you can see the whole side of the face above the eye is blocked in with grey and then some brownish stuff is over that. It looks as though the shadows are a chocolate brown with some grey and lighter grey almost white fur so that is what I was painting.

:)

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 11:43 AM
I just remembered having a book called Paint Like The Old Masters by Joeseph Sheppard, ?, and he showed a greyscale underpainting. I just had the thought 'wouldn't a completed pencil drawing be much the same thing? Since I am wanting to paint on paper glued to panel what would be the problem with drawing the thing then painting over that and using that as my grisal or whatever?

:)

Hurricane relief http://www.aspca.org
:cat:

Lady Carol
09-26-2005, 12:05 PM
And I want to be able to paint ANYTHING from nudes, to Boris Vallejo fantasy art, to pet and people portraits. It is just paint. It is just shapes and color. It should not be this hard.
:)

Hmmmm! Yes. Don't we all want to be able to paint everything.

Personally, I think you are too hard on yourself. You have to come to a point where you personally are accepting of your art. Once you accept that your art is good (and it is) then it will be easier for you progress. You see others work, and without adequate knowledge of how they paint you compare yourself to them and without lessons, etc, you try to teach yourself. I understand you are not in a situation where you can have lessons. But perhaps you should lower the bar a bit until you have a better handle on your painting.

Furthermore, why compare yourself to anyone? Isn't that doing your art an injustice? None of us walked before we could crawl. These things take time. Yes a frustrating amount of time but they take time none the less.

Cheers.

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 12:18 PM
I understand what you are saying but if you do not set standards or want to achieve something then you don't. I want to be able to render things I don't particularly care if it is art. People seem to think that art is a religious experience and that if you like it it is art. Skill is not even a problem with some people. They simply do not care. I care. I used to like my art and just painted and was happy with it. Now I am at a point that I would like to progress. For me being happy with something means it is not good or I did not put as much effort into it or whatever. I am not saying I want to accomplish this goal of painting better over night but it would be nice to progress. That is all I am asking for a little help to start progressing.

And I see no reason why someone can't paint everything. It is just shapes and color. Might not always be easy to learn it and no one likes painting the same stuff.

:)

WRoget
09-26-2005, 01:06 PM
"That is all I am asking for a little help to start progressing."

Well - you've been given a lot of help.

Underpainting is the foundation used by Vermeer and Titian and Rembrandt and Da Vinci to create the depth and subtlety - and each was a master of smooth rendering, though Titian and Rembrandt went on to savor looser, brushier styles.

I was actually sort of surprized at the 'acrylics dry instantly' statement, since I live in a desert, where it is still in the 100's every day, and humidity is at about 10% in my studio, and I never have any problem with acrylics drying instantly - even when I paint outside, even though I use 'em without extenders to slow drying, and in consistencies ranging from straight out of the tube through washes. Maybe I'm just used to acrylics.

You could try a humidifier I suppose.

Discworldjunkie
09-26-2005, 01:25 PM
Thank You

:)

maverick
09-26-2005, 01:39 PM
Maybe you should consider still life painting. I chose still life because the subject matter and lighting can be controlled and the setup can be as simple as you want. I started with apples. They are round and not difficult to draw. Then I moved on to tomatoes, then pears. Once I got pretty good at those, I threw in some bowls, even glass ones...then metal boxes and a teapot. I saw myself getting better. I also learned a lot about composition. My painting technique seems to work, and it's becoming second nature.

If you want to do figure painting, it's amazing how simple shapes like fruit are not that different from body features.

Kimaris Kobal
10-03-2005, 05:24 PM
I am not saying I want to accomplish this goal of painting better over night but it would be nice to progress. That is all I am asking for a little help to start progressing.

For your goals, there is probably nothing better that you could do than to (1) keep painting as much as you possibly can, (2) post everything you paint, including works in progress, on Wet Canvas--both in the critiques forums (Open Critique or Structured Critique) and in the medium forums (acrylic for you), and (3) follow the instructions in the helpful critiques that you receive. Not everything will work the way you want it to--including trying the things suggested in the critiques. But post what resulted from the work, explain why you're still not happy with it, and follow the additional suggestions. It will take some time, but if you do that consistently, you'll get much closer to where you want to go.

You might want to also post in the subject forums that are appropriate for each work--whether pets/animal art, the figure, fantasy art, etc. But keep painting a lot, let people see the work in threads here, and tell them exactly what you're unhappy with. You'll get tons of advice that will help you.