How to Prime a Canvas using Gesso for Acrylic Painting

how to gesso a acrylic painting

What is gesso?

Gesso, pronounced ‘jesso‘, was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so Oil paint would adhere to it.

Gesso is the same as a primer, as in ‘pre-primed canvas’.

It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk and binder.

Traditional Oil ‘glue gesso’ was made with an animal glue binder, usually rabbit-skin glue, chalk, and white pigment, usually Titanium white.

Gesso is usually white or off-white and is used after you have sealed the raw canvas with a coat of size (see: the Trouble with Oil)

It creates a surface that is both absorbent (particularly useful for ‘dead’ colouring with oils) and has a ‘tooth’ (texture) that allows paint to grab onto the surface…

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How to Paint Over an Acrylic Painting

Should I paint over my acrylic painting that hasn't worked?

“Take encouragement from the thought that you may learn from honest failure than from mild success”
Solomon J Solomon – British Pre-Raphaelite painter

It’s the debate with yourself that never ends…

Should I paint over my painting that’s not going to plan or start again on a fresh canvas?

How do you weigh up the time you’ve invested, the cost of materials and all the emotions versus starting again…. it’s almost too much…

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The Rule of Thirds in Landscape Painting (video)

Video Transcript – How to use the ‘rule of thirds’ in your landscape paintings

Morning class, today we are going to have a quick look at composition and the rule of thirds.

Even though it’s called a rule it’s really just a guide to help you compose a picture that looks natural within a rectangle, or square, I find it always works best though within a rectangle.

All you do is split your page into thirds, horizontally and vertically. And these bad boys on the intersections are what we’re looking for…these are what we can align key points of interest to pump up our paintings to guide the viewer into where we want them to look…

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The Secret of Good Composition

‘And after drawing comes composition. A well-composed painting is half done’
Pierre Bonnard

Imagine a lovely drawing of a house with a path meandering up to it, trees either side in careful balance, a classic landscape scene that just ‘works’.

Where is this masterpiece? The Tate? The National?

No, stuck to your fridge door, created by a 4-year-old.

As a young child, visual harmony and composition comes naturally.

Children seem to start out with a near perfect sense of composition if you have small children or are lucky enough to have any of your old drawings you created as a child I’m sure you’ll find the same to be true.

Younger children see the edges of the paper as a whole frame to fill, and they often fill them with a great sense of balance.

When you start to grow up, you know – really old like 9 or 10, that’s where the drawing problems start. The focus shifts and is aimed away from composition to the pursuit of something far more important, where the accolades are huge and respect even greater, the quest for the ultimate prize …… realism.

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How to Balance Warm and Cool Colours

warm and cool acrylic painting colours

Your colour choices can make or break a painting.

Understanding warm and cool colours can instantly give your paintings a sense of harmony.

In the above Titian painting ‘ Bacchus and Ariadne’  Titan has almost split the colour wheel in half in his composition. If you were to put a diagonal line straight through the painting, the cool tones of the blues, greens and purples would be dominant on the left and the warm tones of reds, oranges and yellows on the right.

If you squint your eyes at the picture the general colour scheme is based on blue and orange which are opposite each other in the colour wheel so are known as complimentary colours

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The Importance of Contrast in Painting

contrast in painting

Contrast is really important when you’re starting to learn how to paint.

A good knowledge of contrast in drawing helps significantly because you will have learned the value of light and dark.

If you are coming from a non-drawing background, you will have to be more aware that to make a dramatic painting “contrast is king”, rather than trying to add a bright colour to lift the painting…

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