Acrylic on Canvas 150 x 100 cm
Detail

This is a large acrylic work exploring the possibility of creating the illusion of movement in painting. I am always in two minds about using acrylic and I often find myself switching to oil paints after a period of time. (Please note, you can make the change if the oil paint layer is applied after the acrylic, not the other way around). To be accurate, you can break the rules and add acrylic to an oil base but the results can be unpredictable and tend to make the top layer unstable. The secret for me is not to judge a work completed in acrylics by the same criteria as a painting completed in oils. I have never been able to replicate the natural qualities of oil paint in acrylics and the use of acrylic mediums will only take you so far. However, they are fantastic for making bold statements in colour.

The influence of the Italian Futurists can be seen in this work and I’m currently building translucent layers with the addition of a slow drying agent and various glazing mediums. Speed and confident execution are key in maintaining freshness and immediacy on this scale. I have literally been dancing in front of the canvas in a style reminiscent of Irish stepdance, albeit with my feet anchored to the ground and my arms flailing like a whirling dervish. Let’s see how it develops…those white areas are definitely too strident at the moment.

‘Walking on Sunset’ Acrylic on Paper
‘Walking on Sunset’ Detail

This is one of a series of acrylic paintings on hand made 300 gsm paper and I’m enjoying the immediacy of working on this high quality textured surface. The shapes and colours of the painting show exuberance and optimism and a delight in the here and now. The curved and straight lines celebrate visual contrast and compositional balance. There is a flowing movement from left to right across the picture plane, which together with the warm colours begins to explain the choice of title. You will no doubt see elements of both Cubism and Futurism in the multi-faceted viewpoints and the intriguing interplay of foreground and background spaces.

Capturing the vitality and richness of oil paint in acrylics is a challenge. Oil paints have a natural, organic quality that is generally absent from the synthetic neutrality of acrylic paints. The way to recreate the inherent liveliness and immediacy of oil is to make liberal use of different mediums and gels. In the final stages of a painting, I am still making compositional adjustments and decisions and I am prepared to carry out radical alterations if it isn’t working. And this is when acrylic paints are at their very best, they encourage and facilitate major revisions of the painting. They dry rapidly and have excellent opacity. Here, I have fragmented the image far too much and need to counterbalance the multitude of smaller shapes with large areas of flat colour.

I have used Golden Mediums Acrylic Glazing liquid alongside Jackson’s Fluid Gloss and Fluid Matt medium. Apart from extending the working time, they each contribute to the feel and look of the paint surface, breathing new life into the sometimes dry appearance of raw acrylic.

Abstract Acrylic Painting on 320gsm Handmade Rag Paper
Abstract Acrylic Painting on 320gsm Handmade Rag Paper: Detail
Abstract Acrylic Painting on 320gsm Handmade Rag Paper: Detail

‘Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect’

Tate Gallery

I’m really enjoying working with the brilliance and immediacy of acrylic paint. After using oil and cold wax for most of my recent large scale pieces the ability to create imagery so swiftly and spontaneously is a delight and a revelation. Complementary colour contrast is the guiding principle for this series of paintings and the influence of Cubism is clearly evident in the multiple facets and repetition of geometric shapes. I haven’t yet decided how far to push this study and there is always the ever-present danger of overcooking the various ingredients, only time will tell. Let me know your thoughts, I would love to hear them.

This is an acrylic painting on a 100 x 100 x 4 cm canvas. I based it on the landscape of Roswell Pits, an 8-hectare nature reserve near the city of Ely in the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. It may surprise you to see me working with acrylics as I normally use a range of media including oil paints and cold wax, which I find more expressive. The inherent ‘flatness’ of acrylic paint can be an obstacle to more creative explorations of the natural landscape, but the medium has definitely improved dramatically in terms of versatility and range.

I have applied the paint here with a variety of hog hair brushes in an impressionistic style with many quick strokes of translucent colour. Some of you may feel that it is closer to pointillism in technique. I made the layering and depth of colour possible with the addition of various Liquitex acrylic gels, both gloss and matt. Slow drying additives were also used to ensure the soft blending and subtle gradations of tone achieved in the lower part of the painting.

To unify the surface and protect the painting from dust, UV rays and yellowing, a last layer of acrylic varnish was applied with a large flat brush.

The dominant feature of the work is the reflection on the lake and how the trees and sky have been transformed by the breeze blowing intermittently across the surface.

Roswell Pit: 100 x 100 cm on canvas
Detail from Roswell Pit, acrylic landscape painting
Detail from Roswell Pit, acrylic landscape painting