Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salt, Sun and Acrylics

Some of you may know that in my secret life I am children's illustrator . I've always used watercolors for illustration. I don't know why but I reached for watercolors when I was asked to do my first illustration.     
Last year was the first time I used watercolor en plein air when bad weather forced me to work in my car on a painting trip to the Berkshires. This summer happened to be the "plein air trial run" for acrylics. Acrylics?  What's an oil painter doing painting with acrylics?

 Its all because of Marcus - he wanted to paint with me outdoors and thought acrylics would be easier to start with than oils. So we decided to just dive in and go for it. 
I had a bunch of acrylics in the studio. We grabbed the colors I had and headed to Wells Harbor for our first experiment.The clouds, water and boats were spectacular!

We set up easels side by side so we could take notes from each other.  We taped large sheets of canvas paper to gator board and we each painted 4 small studies on it. This was Marcus' very first time painting so he'd keep asking, "How did you mix that color?" What a brave guy- and he's doing this outdoors? Its hard enough to mix colors indoors! 
We discovered we didn't have any red ! What a hoot! We had blues, greens, yellows, white and black.  We pretended ochre was our red. What a color harmony! Still we could paint recognizable trees, sky and water. 

As evening set in people gathered next to us to fish off the rocks. They were all on vacation and having a great time. The night before one of the girls caught a 20-pound striper, so everyone was hoping for a rerun.

As the sun set and the fishing crowd grew they came by to look at the paintings and talk to us.  Acrylics are very fast drying. No time for chatting.  Not only were we losing our light but our colors on the palette were drying up fast!  

Marcus graciously took over public relations. He packed up his brushes and joked with the guys. 

The clouds started to catch the really warm golden light from the setting sun so I went for a small fast sketch before it got dark. I can tell I am going to really like acrylics. They are like a combo of watercolors and oils. When I get used to this super speedy drying I'll be fine. I ordered some reds so soon we 'll have all the colors we need to make some decent paintings. Let's just hope we have a nice, long, warm autumn to help out!


  1. Thanks Mojtaba - yes you do - it is an incredible area.

  2. What a beautiful area... Clouds to die for!!! Laughing at no red... Way to persevere!

  3. Thanks Lauren! Yes the clouds are out of this world in the marshes...the no red thing was a hoot.

  4. Hey Mary, thanks for leaving such a lovely comment on my blog!

    Have you heard of Golden Open Acrylics? They dry quite a bit more slowly than the regular ones, I think you get about a half hour. I'm an oil painter, but everyone I know who's tried them really likes them.

    Gorgeous country you live in - paint on sister!

  5. You are welcome Liz ! Too funny, I just bought some Open Acrylics...I'll report on them when I take them out for a trial run.