Acrylic Basics for Beginners by Lee Hammond

By Lee Hammond

Lee Hammond is helping you get your acrylic work earlier that preliminary “awkward stage” with nice counsel and tips for reaching reasonable effects.

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Titanium White is very opaque. Concentrate on the values early in the painting. Put the darkest color down as soon as you can. It will be a key to determining values in the rest of the painting. As a general principle, apply dark colors thinly and light colors with more paint. The idea is to let the light of the canvas shine through the darks. The light colors will reflect light automatically. Place the center of interest in the light area of the painting. Use contrast (such as a black pupil with a light glint) to draw the viewer’s attention to the center of interest (usually the eye angled closest to the viewer in a three-quarter view or the eyes in a front view).

This will help you to see the drawing with a fresh eye. SKETCHING FROM LIFE Sketching from life trains your eye. Even if you use a photograph for painting, your work will have more character if you sketch regularly. You’ll understand proportions better and avoid errors due to photographic distortions. If you have an opportunity to sketch the child, you can record details, impressions and characteristics that a camera would miss. There is a big difference between a photo and a living, breathing child!

Trying to work from a grainy or tiny photograph is an exercise in frustration. Enlarge the photo to 8" × 10" (20cm × 25cm). Some artists make three versions of a photograph: one with light values, one with medium values and one with dark values. If you have image-editing software, you can manipulate the photos yourself. If not, then a good photo developer can do it. See PLACING VALUES for more information about creating black-and-white and sepia prints, which can help you see values more easily.

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