Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Art 1- Acrylic Painting- A+

Our last piece in the painting project used acrylic paint. Unlike watercolor, acrylic paint doesn't have much initial opacity, allowing the painter to layer paint on top of each other without fear of having the colors beneath it show through. For this project, we had to choose an existing piece of artwork by another artist and use it as a guideline for our paintings. As someone who has admired Rene Magritte's work since third grade, I decided to use his "A Friend of Order" painting as a reference for my painting. Additionally, we were introduced to nine different painting techniques, and we had to demonstrate a minimum of six in our painting.

The materials used in this piece are as follows: painting canvas, sponging tools, scraper tool, paintbrushes of varying thickness, fine mesh cloth, masking fluid, rubbing square, acrylic paint, glazing paint, disposable wax paper palettes, and hairdryer.

As mentioned earlier, the first step in creating our paintings was to find a piece of artwork by another artist to use as a guideline. My choice was Rene Magritte's "A Friend of Order". I decided to not paint an exact copy of it but instead use a similar color scheme inside the man's silhouette. Before creating a sketch on my canvas however, we had to first paint the background color. This would make it easier to layer paint on top without worrying about filling in empty white spaces of canvas.

I decided to make my background a mixture of light, medium, and dark browns. Instead of painting these colors on with a paintbrush, I used a dabbed a sponging tool over these colors and sponged them all over my canvas. The final effect was a rough blend of all three browns speckled across the canvas. Next, I used gray-brown and dark brown paint on my paintbrush to scumble in downward short strokes, making sure to allow the sponged surface beneath to still remain visible. Once my general background was complete, I dried the paint with a hairdryer.

Once dry, used a white pencil to sketch out the silhouette of the man in my painting. Then, I dipped my soap-coated (to protect the bristles) paintbrush into the masking fluid bottle and layered masking fluid all over the outside of the silhouette. This would protect the paint beneath the masking fluid from the paint I used inside the man's silhouette. After drying the masking fluid with a hairdryer, I painted the top of the man's hat dark blue and the middle of the silhouette white. Then, using constant brush strokes from left to right, I blended these two paints in the space between them, creating a blue ombre effect.

Next, I painted the space below that ombre space blue, then painted the treetops a very dark blue. Below the treetops, I painted the tree trunks a medium blue. Now, the entire space within my silhouette was some variation of blue, however the trees just didn't pop as much as I wanted it to. To solve this, I used three different techniques on my treetops: sgraffito, glazing, and impasto. First, I used sgraffito, a technique that involved taking away paint and revealing the surface underneath. While the paint was still wet on my first and third tree, I used a scraping tool and scraped away the paint in wavy lines. Secondly, I used the glazing technique, in which you mix acrylic paint with glazing fluid to achieve a paint with more opacity. Once the sgraffito part was dry, I mixed a bit of light blue paint with the glazing fluid (around a 1-to-1 ratio). I painted this light blue glaze over the top of the first treetop, and then did the same with a darker blue glaze on the rest of the treetops with sgraffito.

For the remaining two treetops, I used the technique impasto. This technique is borrowed from oil painting, and it is basically when you layer a lot of paint on top in texturised clumps and let it dry that way. This creates a literal texture on the painting and draws the eye's attention to that area. So with a thicker dark blue paint, I used my brush to pick up lots of paint and transferred it onto the treetops. To make the impasto part more obvious, I also dabbed my brush up and down on the surface of the paint, making it stick up even more.

Now that my treetops were done, I began making more contrast between the treetops, tree trunks, and the ground below them. I first painted the ground a lighter shade of blue, and then painted the trunks a dark shade of brown with a lighter shade of brown on the left side. This was to create the illusion of light on the left side hitting the trunks. Then, using the same brown as the trunks, I created a small horizontal shadow for each trunk.

At this point, I realized that the ground my trees were on was still too dark to see much, so I decided to mix a grey-brown paint with glazing fluid to create a glaze over the current shade of blue. Then, to make my ground look more interesting, I applied black paint to a fine mesh cloth and pressed it onto my canvas, creating a texturized effect.

With everything inside the man's silhouette complete, I then used a rubbing square to remove all of the masking fluid, revealing the protected background beneath it and the man's silhouette. I then tried using the palette knife technique to create downward streaks on the top left and right side of the canvas, however the harsh knife strokes did not fit well with the rest of the piece. To make the effect more muted, I used a sponge tool and sponged white and light brown paint all over the area. Surprisingly, this made my background look even better than it did before.

Finally, the last thing I added was the crescent moon on the man's forehead, which I painted white with a very fine paintbrush.

In creating this piece, I faced a lot of difficulties, however the difficulties all led to me making the piece something I am genuinely proud of. Some of these difficulties included creating the impasto effect, rubbing away the masking fluid, and the issue with the palette knife technique (which I already outlined earlier). While trying to create the impasto technique, I realized that the acrylic paint I was using had a very thin consistency. This meant that the paint would not stand up much, no matter how much paint I applied or how much dabbing I did with my brush. I asked Mr. Laurence for help, and he showed me to some higher quality paints with a ticker consistency. With this ticker paint, I was able to make my paint stand up and create the impact effect I was going for.

Additionally, one of the main hurdles I had to face was rubbing off the masking fluid. When rubbing it off, I was hard to tell which surfaces had masking fluid beneath them and which didn't. This led to my accidentally rubbing of the actual acrylic paint that I didn't want rubbed away. To solve this, I decided to first rub off as much of the masking fluid first, and then refine the edges of the silhouette later with a light brown paint similar to the background.

Overall, I am extremely satisfied with the final piece. I believe this is my favorite piece this semester so far.

RenĂ© Magritte's "A Friend of Order" 1964

Lauren Pong's "A Friend of Passion" 2017

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