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  Art Lesson 3
Inspiration and Its Outcome in Acrylic by Angie McIntosh

Photo of Harbour at Bridges
Photo of Harbour at Bridges
This is the harbour in front of Bridges Restaurant on False Creek in Vancouver.  I was walking around the area looking for painting ideas on a lovely sunny day in March--hard to believe it had snowed there the previous week.  I loved the light  on the building next to the large white boats and the buildings reflection on the water.  The whole large scene is lovely but very complicated to paint what with all of the sail boat masts, the bridge, and the sky scraper in the background.  I will paint my work in acrylic.  The process is very different from watercolours although the basic composition and design principles are totally the same.
Verticle crop of Bridges scene.
Crop the  Image to get Composition
I decided that I must simplify the scene and so removed the blue sky, busy sky scrapers from the top.  I also zoomed in and eliminated all of the busy masts from the sailboats located on the left and the right of the scene.  Although the Granville Street bridge supports are quite busy and complicated I decided I should leave them in to give the painting a real feeling of the market area below the bridge.  However I would paint them in a loose and suggested fashion so they wouldn't take away from the main parts of the scenes being the yellow building, boats, and reflections. 
Painting in its understudy phase
Understudy of Painting
Here I have done the tonal understudy of the painting. This provides the artist with the correct values of the painting before laying in the colours.  By getting the underlying values correct the painting is almost guaranteed to work.  That is why you must have a very good subject to paint from with the lightest lights to the midtones,  the darks and darkest darks.  Normally artists will squint alot at a scene if they're painting outdoors or if looking at a colour photo.  This blurring of the eyes helps to eliminate colours and details so that you can get the big pictures of where to put your lights and darks.  Here to make it easier I printed a black and white of my image to work from.
Close up of Underpainting
Close Up of Underpainting
Process of Painting
The method I use for painting works really well on canvas.  This time I was working on board which provided some challenge as it dries too quickly on the initial wash on the dry board which sucks the moisture out of the paint.  I would recommend working on canvas.  First you carefully study the value pattern and placement of shapes in your picture.  Then you tone your whole canvas with a fairly watery mixture of burnt sienna.  Using a slightly damp flannel rag you wipe off you lightest lights (didn't work too well on board so I added them back with paint later).  The initial toning of canvas with burnt sienna serves as your mid value.  Then you darken your sienna with french ultramarine  and paint darks.
Finish Acrylic "Bridges"
Finished Painting 12x16 Acrylic "Bridges"
Continued--Due to the difficulties with the drying board I had to add some of the lights back into the water.  Once I am happy with the tonal underpainting I start laying in the colours working from the darkest to the lightest.  Then I painted in the reflections and finished up with the details.  Notice how I lightened up the overlying dark shadow on the left side of the building which the camera had darkened too much. 

I learned my acrylic technique from a wonderful Victoria, BC, Canada artist, Brian Simons.  He offers workshops just about every month.  I would  recommend anyone study with him if you'd like to learn a confident acrylic technique.  Visit his website www.BrianSimons.com.

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Go to Watercolour Lesson 1 and Watercolour Lesson 2
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