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An acrylic adventure

After many years working solely with pastel, past president of the Pastel Society Cheryl Culver felt the time had come for a change and a new challenge with acrylics. She demonstrates her progress with this coastal scene

At first, taking up acrylics seemed a lovely idea: clean, no dust, no glass – but then there were decisions to be made, and these went on and on.


I have a fondness for canvas and being hands-on, decided I would stretch my own. Stretcher bars were available in three sizes from Jackson’s Art Supplies; I chose 21×58mm, which is sturdy with an excellent 90-degree corner when assembled. It’s no problem painting on a wonky stretched canvas, but think of the poor picture framer who has to try to make a frame to fit. Hence my decision to use the sturdier stretcher bars, especially as I frame my own work!

I was reluctant to pay almost £80 per metre for better quality linen canvas and I had no idea which grade of canvas would best suit my work. Eventually it became apparent that if you paid for a good quality canvas, that was what you got. This bright idea was beginning to be expensive.

I had chosen an un-primed canvas and of course there were choices of primer as well! After some thought I began with the Winsor & Newton clear acrylic gesso as this gave me a similar tonal surface as the board I used for my pastels, but changed to the white gesso as the acrylic paint seemed to travel more easily on this.

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About The Artist

Water-based media enthusiasts will find huge inspiration and masses of great advice from professional artists Hazel Soan, Jake Winkle, Cheryl Culver, Paul Weaver and Marie Antoniou this month. Hazel explains how to translate tones into watercolour on paper to maximise the effects of light and shade in your paintings; Jake reveals the watercolour techniques he recommends to paint texture and patterns in animals; Cheryl demonstrates a coastal scene in acrylics; Paul urges you to try quick studies in line and wash to keep your en plein air skills in tip top condition while Marie demonstrates how to use tube black to best effect in your acrylic paintings! Learn more from Adele Wagstaff about the structure of the lower limbs and feet to help improve your figure painting, and the colours to use for skin tones for your coloured pencil portraits from Alyona Nicklesen. With more features on pastel painting, detailed still lifes, a new technique to try and oil painting demonstrations from Peter Graham and Bob Brandt, whatever your favourite subject matter or medium you're bound to find loads to inspire you in this month's issue!