Photo by artmonstergirlSo are you ready to dive into the creative process? There really is no experience needed to start painting. Just the desire to do so is enough. Your mind may try to tell you that you aren’t good enough or don’t have the time, but don’t let that stop you from picking up that brush. The fact is that it is easier to create a good painting than a bad one. Having the will to go for it is your bigger challenge.
I would choose to begin with a work on paper. Canvas is a whole other story that can wait. And it’s not so upsetting when you mess up a work on paper over canvas, which does happen. Working with a brush on paper is different than canvas. The fluidity of water is a gentle approach, and helps you connect with the paint in a nice flow. It has a lot to teach you before you tackle the thicker paints. I have chosen to work in acrylics on paper for many years because I love the flow of paint and water together. I also prefer the thicker texture of acrylics over watercolors.
Landscapes are wonderful to paint for many reasons. They connect us to nature in a deeper way through our visual studies, and they bring the beauty of nature indoors. When you really start to “see” nature, it will have many gifts for you. The trick is in actually seeing what you want to create because it is harder to see than it is to creatively express what you see. Your job, before you even pick up the brush, is to really “see” what is in front of you. You want to see the colors, the flow of shapes, the perspective, the lines, the composition and allow this visual to translate into a feeling for what you see. This is how you will infuse your painting with your own energy and interpretation that is unique to who you are and how you live. When I am really seeing what is laid out before me in nature, it often locks into my visual brain where it is vividly stored until I am ready to recall it. Sometimes I have to sketch it for fear of losing or forgetting what I am seeing. I have found that my best paintings result from those times I am able to effortlessly lock in a powerful vision of what I am seeing, and often have no sketches. And I have carried stored visions for years before they have manifested as paintings. The art of seeing comes with time and practice, and is a necessary prerequisite to the eventual art of expression.
Nature is constantly changing with a dynamic energy. The sky that is bright and cloud free suddenly becomes dark and foreboding; the leaves and grasses that were peacefully glowing in the evening light start dancing wildly in the wind; or the soft, muted colors of the fields quickly become bold and daring. Look for the shapes and the energy in the landscape that appeal to your eye and senses. A pleasing sensation is a sign guiding you to expression. A dynamic expression has complexity and depth; it is not flat and boring. You are looking for a composition that has movement even though it may be still, perspective that invites you into the landscape, intrigue of subject matter that reflects your unique vision and color that speaks to all the senses. Less is more, keep it simple. It can be complex yet still simple. Do not make it complicated and busy. Train your eye to see everything that is before you; scan the horizon and take in the colors, the shapes, the movement and the mood. Painting results from both seeing and feeling. This is the foundational work to beautiful landscape acrylic paintings.
Sketch loosely what you have seen on a nice piece of Arches watercolor paper, smooth or rough. Use a light drawing pencil, such as a #2 Hard. Do your sketch quickly, but obtain the flow of your desired composition.You are going to create a painting, not a drawing, so detail is not important. Get the basic shapes along with the positioning of everything in relation to one another. Now put your acrylic paints on a plate, mix colors you have seen and leave some of those pure and straight from the tube. Use a fair amount of water to get the first layers on, and cover the whole paper. Then you will go back in, and start to build the image with layers of more colors. When using acrylics on paper like watercolor, you want to work from light to dark. It is easy to keep darkening colors, and harder to lighten colors that have gotten too dark. This is when colors get muddy, and you want your colors to stay pure and bold when going darker. You are wanting to create depth with purity of color. Mix white, brown or black into your colors sparingly, and only when needed for a desired effect. Listen to the colors, and let them do the talking.
Color has the most infinite possibilities in the spectrum with the mixing of colors. If you are new to mixing colors, get a color wheel to get you going. You want to become a master of color. Mixing the perfect shades requires a certain sense and sensitivity that color will teach you. The secret to brilliancy in your painting is found in the opposition of warm colors to cool colors along with bright colors and subdued colors. This juxtaposition brings colors to life. If you are wanting to create the sensation of light, it is all in the color. Become a master of color, and you will also become a master of light.
Dynamic landscape acrylic paintings are visions of both what you see and who you are. They will reflect a part of your inner soul that can see and appreciate all the beauty around you.