View Full Version : Acrylics with no texture...

08-02-2000, 09:01 PM
I once had a friend (now at Yale art school) who painted abstract, color-theory based works with acrylics. Somehow he was able to work enough layers onto the canvas that the paintings came out perfectly smooth, without any hint of brush strokes. I've recently started painting, and have tried to reach such a state, but to no avail. I always wind up with brush strokes, even with good brushes, and the canvas texture still shows through. Any suggestions?
many thanks,
Christopher S.

08-02-2000, 09:45 PM
AFter 20 years of struttin' my stuff with acrylics in wildlife art competitions I now enjoy the thick juicey impasto effects of oil. Strange huh? We go from extremes to extremes.

Well...the way I did the smooth images with intense detail was painting on masonite. First laying down about 4 layers of gesso, sanding between layers to get a smooth surface.

Then I would paint each mass with about the darkest middle values using the paint opaque, flat brushes and enough water that the brush strokes would just glide on. Also painting in the darkest darks(shadows) the same.

From there....I began building up my lights and my rendering and detail with smaller brushes. I used synthetic sable, soft... mostly rounds, and built up with line hatch strokes. Key though, was that a great deal of water is used so that these strokes go on semi transparent and glide. Then, I would build layer upon layer upon layer of stroke over stroke. Painting mostly from darkest value to light. Only my last brightest highlests would be opaque.

On just the wings of the Hungarian Partridge alone in this painting I had about 30 hours. The transparent layering made the feathers appear soft and like you could touch them.

A total of about 250-300 hours in this work.
<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/Snowy_Owl.jpg" border=0>


[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited August 02, 2000).]

08-03-2000, 08:50 AM
Larry, what a stunning painting. I can see why you now favour the impasto method.

Finding paint ridges when you want a smooth painting is just the pits. Use a soft brush to avoid brush marks, and perhaps use less paint on the brush. Also there are products around which will aid in smoothing the paint and making it flow easier, although they may take longer to dry and sometimes thin the pigment. Keep practising with just water in the brush.

08-04-2000, 12:54 AM
Actually...this surface is totally totally flat and smooth. My impasto's are reserved for my plein air landscapes primarily which can be seen at my site- http://www.artistnation.com/members/lofts/lseiler

take care!


10-10-2003, 12:14 AM
Dear Christopher S.,

Did you ever figure out how your friend was able to apply the acrylic colors without leaving any brush strokes? I'd like to know too.

By the way, I've run across 3 artists (not personally) who also have very smooth, no-trace-of-brush in their paintings.
Jay Davis, Inka Essenhigh, and Roland Reiss.

You can probably find some of their paintings by googling their name.

I think both Essenhigh and Reiss paints in layers and also sands between each layer. ( I don't like the idea of breathing in toxic dust, I'm guessing you need to wear a mask to do this.) I did see some Reiss acrylic paintings (made in the 90's) in person, and an inch away from them and when the light reflects a certain way, I could detect very fine sand marks. I've heard that Essenhigh used oil enamel paint which she sanded between layers. I also saw some of Davis' acrylic paintings and cannot figure out how he got his surfaces so slick and smooth and glossy, because I could not detect even a trace of sanding. --and esp. because he sometimes has up to 50 layers in a single painting.

By the way, I am interested in abstract color-field based paintings and am curious to see what your friend's work looks like--could you tell me his name?--don't mean to be so forward.


10-10-2003, 12:32 AM
I like a smooth surface on my paintings, too, but it's not really that important to me. However, I'd like to suggest you buying paints that say Flow Formula (or something similar) on them. They are paints that aren't as thick as the average ones, and you can get a smoother and opaque surface without some many layers and using water. I can't really tell you much more about these paints, I know that Winsor & Newton's Galeria says Flow Formula on the tube and I have an old guide on acrylic painting where they mention some brand... I just don't remember the name right now. The flow formula was also recommended for color-fields...

10-10-2003, 05:39 AM
Check out "Golden" for their flow formula acrylics. (Winsor & Newton have discontinued their f.f. range in the "Finity" colors). The Golden website has a lot of good info on how to get different results, etc., and suggestions for various grounds and what kind of finish you might hope to get with each, (which is something you ought to experiment with, if you hope to gain some insight).........

There is no definite "path" you can follow to get perfectly brush-mark free paintings. It will require a lot of trial and error, because of the number of variables, including your mixing/painting technique and understanding of the medium and how the different grounds can affect the working of the paint as well as the outcome.

Don't want the canvas showing through the paint? Don't use canvas then. Try something else.


10-10-2003, 08:26 PM
Pardon the interruption, but in reading through this thread I noticed some terminology I'm not familiar with: "abstract color theory based works" and "abstract color field based paintings". I can guess the definition of the first, but I'm not sure of the second. Perhaps they mean the same thing. This terminology may describe the type of work I do, so I'm interested in a definition. Or being pointed to a definition.

10-11-2003, 01:15 AM
What I understand of color theory, I learned from Josef Albers' book "Interaction of Color" (I think). If you've never read it and you want some analysis and examples of how colors react with each other, I would highly recommend it. Josef Albers was a painter by the way, and you can find his images on the internet.
(Some other artists have written about color also, but I haven't read them: Goethe, Kandinsky)

Ok, didn't mean to use the word "color field." I really don't remember if Albers uses the terms interchangeably.