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Embrace acrylics!

Paul Gadenne takes an in-depth look at acrylics and how you can make the most of their properties to achieve spontaneity in your work

It seems that people either get acrylics or they don’t. As a teacher, the three common problems I encounter are: watercolourists add too much water; oil painters can’t cope with the fast drying time; that acrylic is ‘good for painting over mistakes’.

Starting with a negative can never be conducive to great art. Acrylic paint can help you to become a more spontaneous artist, the fast drying times and the ability to make instant changes, going from colour to colour, dark to light and back again, allow you to respond to marks as you make them.

Types of acrylic paint

Although acrylic paint can be used with almost anything you can think of, here we are looking at acrylics for application by brush.

Professional acrylic is high-quality paint with long-lasting saturated pigments that can provide vivid colour and reliable mixing properties. Quality is reflected in the price.

Student acrylic is a good working paint with characteristics almost identical to professional, but pigments tend to be slightly less concentrated. Some use of hues rather than full strength colour helps to keep the price down

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About The Artist

Welcome to our February issue with our extra 16-page guide to art courses and holidays for 2018, including Kevin Scully's article on what to take into consideration and what to pack to make the most of the opportunities offered by a structured course away from home. Our artists also offer plenty of ideas and inspiration for painting a variety of subjects in a broad range of media, including pastel pencil animals, a horse in watercolour, trees and an orchard in pastels, mixed-media collages inspired by old buildings, a photorealist self-portrait in oils and more. In addition, Hazel Soan starts her new three-part series on light and shade in watercolour by explaining how to train your eye to see and interpret tone, Judi Whitton demonstrates how to mix and exploit a wide range of lively greys in your watercolour paintings, while Paul Gadenne shows why and how acrylics can be the key to achieving greater spontaneity in your work. Be inspired and enjoy trying some new ideas under the guidance of our fantastic team of contributing artists!