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Acrylics Anonymous, Issue #119 -- Into The Big Blue
October 01, 2022

Passionate about painting with acrylics? Need a monthly fix chock full of inspiration? Need some help to take the pain out of your painting process? It's all here for you. Acrylics Anonymous. Zero elitism. Dive in.

If you enjoy Acrylics Anonymous, and you know someone who might also enjoy it, you can share by forwarding it to your friends!

If you are receiving this because a friend has forwarded this to you, and you would like to subscribe, click here!

Every month, we will produce a Subscribers Only "sealed section" - just keep scrolling to see it. It could be a painting technique, a short video tip, or anything we can think of that we reckon you might enjoy.

Please let us know what you think, we love your feedback! To leave comments, contact us here.

In this month’s AA Sealed Section, exclusively for you!

Meet The Wallers is now available to stream via the Antidote Films website and streaming platform.

They have generously given us a discount code to pass onto you guys, giving you $5 off the rental price (of AUD$20, bringing the total down to AUD$15).
Use code: EXPLORE at the checkout.

This is a beautiful, poignant film about love, life, and all the spiky and beautiful bits that come with building a life with someone. We hope you enjoy!
NB: You'll need to create a free account before watching, let us know if you have any troubles.

Use code: EXPLORE for $5 off the rental price

Just Do It!

Feeling lost with a painting?  Just do something!  Pick up a paintbrush and mix up a colour.  Even if the colour is not right, this process will prompt you to realise what you need to be doing.

So the advice is, just DO SOMETHING.  Just like Nike says :D

Did You Hear?

Gift cards are now available through Mark's website here!

Stuck for a gift idea? These are great!

Win This Fabulous Mark Waller Original Painting!

We have a new full tutorial on Youtube, and webpage now available all about painting this gorgeous moonlight scene. AND, a competition to win the original. Yep! We have officially gone cray cray! Don't miss out! Entries close 31st October.

Click here to learn more!

New Shorts on Youtube

Since last time there have been ever more musings from Mark's brain - aka "Thoughts From The Easel" up on Youtube. Here's a few more you may not have seen yet.

Click here for the short "You Will Remember".
Click here for the short clip "Tide".
Click here for the short "Breath".
And click here for the short clip "Pinballs".

Every month, we choose an Artist from our forum to showcase.

You can even nominate someone if you like. (Or yourself!). To do this, check out the forum and then send us an email! It’s that easy.

This month we're featuring artist Jude Scott, from Brisbane Australia, with their lovely, sun-soaked painting titled "Shades of Byron". Thanks so much for sharing this with us Jude, you have done brilliant work here!

Click here for more info on Jude's painting "Shades of Byron"

Ronny Tertnes is a high speed photographer from Norway, capturing incredible expression in water droplets!

Check out Ronny's work here.

Originally from Mexico City, Gabriel Dawe creates installations that explore connections between fashion and architecture. His work is ethereal and beautiful, and just when you think you've seen everything, here comes another incredibly unique artist!

Check out his "Plexus" series here.

If you have a link you like, please share it with us! You can contact us to let us know. Thank you!

This is the section where you can "get your name in lights!" (well at least out there in the internet world!).

If you have works in progress you would love to show off, or finished pieces you are particularly proud of, we would love to see them!

We especially like to hear about the story behind the creation.

This month's submission comes again, from our very own Mark Waller, with the journey of this majestic whale painting, simply titled "Blue".

From Mark:

"It seems to me we spend a lot of time in our heads.  And there’s a whole world going on out there that we’re not aware of.

I came across a picture of a whale that was down deep.  It looked almost as though the whale was in moonlight.  I came across another picture of a whale breaking the surface, and started thinking about what whales do at night.

And of course, being a painter, all I could think of was how beautiful, ominous and wonderful that thought was. I created an image that I thought could somehow speak to that.

I wanted a lot of darkness, with the whale and the detail around the whale, emerging out of it.  In order to convey the momentous-ness of a whale, and to add to that idea of it floating in the abyss, I HAD to use big canvas.

This is a BIG painting. 2.25m x 1.2m.

I roughed in very quickly where I thought the whale should go.  And when I was happy with the placement, began the process of blocking in the background.  I used Atelier Free Flow for this, and mixed Carbon Black with Pthalo Blue. 

On the one hand, that was a great strategy, because the black covers beautifully, and the blue “kills” the flatness of the black.  On the other hand, transitioning from that darker blue-black, into a luminous, clean Pthalo Blue/White combination is a *&^%$%#@@#$%^& nightmare on a big canvas.

  BLACK IS STRONG.  And the second it went anywhere near the white, it greyed, and I lost my beautiful blues.

I put it aside to dry, exhausted and crying.  When it was dry enough, I started working over the whale itself.

The logistics of moving a canvas that size around in my studio, was challenging to say the least.  It was Tetris on steroids.

I stepped back from the picture and had a look, and was pretty happy with everything.  I psyched myself up to repaint the background water.

Round two - DING!  This time went better than I expected, and I walked away reasonably happy.  In fact, very happy, with the luminosity in the blues, and the depth of the darkness in the other areas.  I felt like I had a victory.  Down tools - round three tomorrow!

I’ve heard it said that a new day is a clean start, and I walked up the stairs full of optimism and enthusiasm.  I looked at the painting, the beautiful luminous blues, and the darkness, and enjoyed that space until a voice said very quietly “the whale’s a bit fat.  It’s not right.  You should stop painting and go and get a proper job”.

Feck it.  It was never going to leave me alone, that thought.  And then there was the equally ridiculous thought, “eh, I can just do a subtle gradation away from the whale’s belly to thin it up”.  Ha!  Four and a half hours later, and three tantrums in, I had almost completely lost the whale.  BUT.  I had managed to slim it down.  Lucky I was happy to paint the whale again. (The easiest part of the whole picture).

At that point I locked the entire painting in with three coats of Heavy Gel Gloss and Universal Medium.  I wanted that background protected (for eternity preferably). 

Onto the whale.  I mixed Burnt Umber and a little bit of Dioxazine Purple plus a little Pthalo Blue and White, and shaped the nose (rostrum) and mouth.  Gradually I added Pthalo Blue as I moved further into the gloomy water, painting the tail flukes very subtly because I was going to create the illusion of aerated water around the whale’s tail.  I roughed up some Pthalo Blue and White and painted in the pectoral fins, and the detail in the throat grooves.

Once I was roughly happy with the colour and shape, I then started to put in some more detail in the aerated water left by the whale’s tail and movement through the surface.

  I also suggested reflections on the underside of the surface of the water.

From this point on it was just a matter of to-ing and fro-ing between the details on the rostrum and on the flippers, all the while adding to and taking away paint to create the impression of bubbles making their way back to the surface.

When I was reasonably happy with that, I then put in the suggestion of light refraction on the whale’s body to give him or her more volume, and to create just another layer of interest.  I quite like doing this - it’s almost too nice an effect not to do.

And then again, it was back to gradually increasing the detail with warmer browns, purple and  blue combinations, moving back into those same combinations but with more Pthalo Blue to create the scars, scratches and general lumps that seem to poke out of humpback whales everywhere.

The highlights on the nodules (tubercles) on the top of the rostrum, and in the refracted light on the whale were done with Burnt Umber, White and the tiniest hint of Cadmium Yellow Medium.  But almost inevitably, there was some Pthalo Blue in there (it gets in everything).  Lucky it’s all underwater huh.

Superficially the whale was not a difficult subject to paint, and to be honest I went into this painting thinking it would be a relatively simple process.

I overestimated my ability.  I did swear.  A lot.

Black is so indescribably strong, as is Pthalo Blue.  And going from such a stark transition from black into those paler blues and whites, requires very careful management of colour, and a less casual approach than I usually attack things with.  Lesson learnt?  Probably not. :D

The next problem was getting it out of the studio.  Luckily the council has been “beautifying” the main street of our town for some time now, so I was able to enlist the help of two wonderful council workers (not the bosses) to help me get it out the window, off the awning, and down into the street so I could then get it into the gallery and on the wall!

Thanks so much for sharing your process with this painting Mark. Make sure you're following Mark on his socials below for more!

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We hope you enjoyed this issue of Acrylics Anonymous!

If you have any suggestions, comments or feedback for the ezine or our site, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Until next time, make sure you stay safe and well, and don't forget to chuck some paint around!

Cheers from Frankie & Mark :)

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