How to Apply a Varnish to an Acrylic Painting

varnishing_an acrylic paintingAn uneven finish in your painting, some parts matte, other parts glossy can be very off-putting to the viewer.

A unified finish enhances the colours and is a great way to add both a professional finish to your paintings and add dollars to the sale price.

No one technique for varnishing suits every situation. The texture of the paint surface, the desired finish, speed of completion, etc all affect which technique is best to use.

On a side note, it’s also the number 1 trick to making your acrylic paintings look like oils…

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The 5 Key Differences between Acrylics vs Oil paints – a Beginners Guide

The difference Oils and Acrylics
What is the difference between Oils vs Acrylic Paints?

Do you want to learn to paint but don’t know where to start?

Get excited about all the paintings you are going to create but don’t know which types of paints to begin with?

To understand the pros and cons of oils vs acrylics you need to ask yourself a few simple questions to decide which medium is best for you…

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Are these 3 Black Paint Myths Holding You Back?

warm and cool black velazquez

Diego Velázquez, portrait of Juan de Pareja, 1650

Are you scared of using black in your paintings?

Or secretly feel they are the missing ingredient to your work?

If you don’t use black whilst mixing colours you could be missing a trick.

A tale from two masters:

John Singer Sargent and Claude Monet used to go out and paint together.

One day, Sargent is said to have left his paints behind and asked Monet to lend him his to work with. “Where’s the black?” asked Sargent.
“I don’t allow myself to use black.” replied Monet.
“It’s against the impressionist theory. In nature all colours are made by mixing.”
Sargent refused to understand how anyone could paint without black.

It’s a matter of taste…

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Is Green Ruining Your Acrylic Paintings? (video)

Ballet rehearsal-Degas

Edgar Degas, Ballet Rehearsal, 1834 – 1917

Green paint is like peanut butter is for dieters, dangerously addictive.

I don’t quite know why, maybe the freshness, the feeling of a landscape, the memory of nature… whatever the reason it’s a bad one.

Step 1. If you buy a starter set of beginners paints throw away the green that is included (usually this is Emerald green)

It is usually terrible and very unforgiving when trying to create harmonious colour in painting.

“Can’t I use it to tone down red? or use red to tone down the green? I know about complementary colours, I’ve only just bought it, I can’t throw it away!”

You must.

Still got it?…

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New online “The Art of Acrylics” painting course

Time lapse preview for New painting course The Art of Acrylics with Will Kemp

Developing your artists eye

When I was first learning to paint my results were often disheartening, the apple looked too flat, the greens looked garish and harsh and I was generally getting more and more frustrated.

I often took a large palette knife to the canvas and smeared the entire painting.

The result?

My new abstract period!!!

The problem with learning to paint is that you have an inbuilt ‘taste’ meter. You know a good painting when you see one. You don’t have to be art educated or have studied the classics, you just need to trust your own judgments.

So when you attempt your first painting and it goes wrong, you know it is wrong.

You just might not know why…

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How to Instantly add Depth to Your Mountains in Acrylic Landscape Painting

aerial perspective Leonardo-da-Vinci-Leonardo da Vinci – The Virgin of the Rocks (detail), 1491-1508

Why do mountains look blue in the distance?

Have you ever wondered why a hill, that you know is covered in green trees, looks purple or blue when viewed from a long distance away?

Trying to create a sense of depth and distance in your landscape painting is key for creating realism in your paintings.

The simplest way to do this is with Aerial perspective…

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The 8 key Differences Between Artist Quality vs Student Grade Acrylic Paints

differences-artist-vs-student-grade-paint

A brief overview of Artists’ vs Student quality paint

There are usually two grades of colour available, artist quality and student quality.

But what is the difference?

And, is it worth the cost?

When first starting painting lessons it is often overwhelming to try and decide which brush to buy, what canvas to paint on and the biggest choice of all. What paints to buy!

Your paints can help greatly in your progress as a painter, what usually happens is a hesitancy on investing in the ‘good quality’ paints until you yourself become a better painter.

This is a mistake.

One of the key things to understand is the labelling and differences between artist and student quality paint and how better quality paint, can make your life as a painter much easier…

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How to Apply a Coloured Ground with Acrylic Paint (video)

In this video, I demonstrate how to apply a coloured ground to a pre-primed canvas using Golden fluid Acrylic.

To learn more about the benefits of painting on a coloured ground see: How a prepared canvas can drastically improve your paintings

This technique is best for landscapes and still life paintings.
Video transcript:
When I’m doing (painting) landscapes or still life’s I usually always use Yellow Ochre as a coloured ground.

It has got a nice mid-tone to it, a really lovely warmth to it. It’s cheap and if you move onto Oil painting it dries quickly…

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The 3 Tricks of Complementary Colours you can Learn from Van Gogh

complementary colours Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, 1888.

Complementary colours

Two colours, placed side by side, will appear differently depending on which colours are used and what they are placed next to.

The effect of this interaction is called simultaneous contrast.

Simultaneous contrast is most intense when two complementary colours are juxtaposed directly next to each other.

For example, red placed directly next to a green, if you concentrate on the edge you will see a slight vibration.

Your eye doesn’t like resting on the edge. The two complementary colour in their purest, most saturated form don’t sit well together, however, if you want to try and focus your viewer gaze on a particular part of the painting a knowledge of the ‘attraction to the eye’ can be used to great effect…

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How to Choose a Basic Colour Palette for Acrylic Painting

basic acrylic paint palette

“I am a simple man, and I use simple materials: Ivory black, Vermilion (red), Prussian blue, Yellow ochre, Flake white and no medium. That’s all I’ve ever used in my paintings.
L.S.Lowry

A great deal of things in nature are actually very muted, it is often the difference between light and dark and warm and cool colours, rather than the use of a bright colour.

If you want to paint subtle still life paintings, choose muted earth colours.

If you want very bright, vivid abstracts, you might need some more man-made pigments that have a higher colour saturation.

My suggested basic acrylic colour palette is somewhere in-between. It allows bright colour mixtures as well as subtle. The pigments are all light-fast (will not fade over time) and are a mixture of series (the price labelling system of paints) so the cost will be kept down….

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The Hidden Hues of Colour Mixing (video)

Why can’t I mix the right colour?

Imagine a time of poster paints and sugar paper. Of bright colours, chubbie crayons, green grass and blue skies. These were perfect painting days apart from one thing I almost forgot to mention….brown sludge.

Lots and lots of brown.

Your teachers told you ‘mix yellow and blue to make green’, red and blue to make purple.

You listened, but the problem was still there.. you created brown sludge.

What were you doing wrong?

Nothing, you were just given the wrong paints…

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Colour Mixing Basics with Acrylic Paint (video)

How to mix the colour you see. Basic principles

This video is a basic introduction to matching a colour using 3 primary colours.

The palette used was Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light and Ultramarine Blue. The brand was Golden Heavy Body Acrylics.

The basics of colour mixing are discussed in How your hairdresser can teach you to mix colour

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How your Hairdresser can Teach You to Mix Paint Colours

colour mixing primary colours

“All colours will agree in the dark.”
Francis Bacon

How to Mix Colour: The Basics

Learning how to mix colour can be daunting, colour theory can be off-putting, but understanding the basics is key when starting to paint.

A knowledge of colour theory is helpful, but in practice nothing beats actually mixing colours, however, you need to start somewhere so let’s start with some basic theory. I’ll be going into some advanced techniques in later posts.

Please note: New Colour mixing course for beginners is now live!

How your hairdresser can teach you to mix paint colour

I’ll be honest, a few years ago I knew nothing about the hairdressing business until my wife opened her hair salon above my gallery, I can now tell you the difference between a champagne blonde and a beige blonde..(0.4 if you were wondering) but the main thing I hadn’t realized was the similarities between hair colourists and painters.

If you want to learn a fast track to understanding your paintings next time your at the salon have a chat to your hair colourist…

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