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Painting reflections in acrylic

Learning to paint reflections not only helps to describe surfaces accurately, but when used effectively as part of a composition, they can add a whole new dimension to your work. Jo Quigley shows you how it’s done, using acrylics

ACRYLICS: 3 RD OF 6

Piccadilly in the Rain, acrylic, 233⁄4x233⁄4in (60x60cm)

Reflections are all around us and impossible to avoid as they occur whenever light is thrown back by a surface without absorbing it. The chances are you have been painting them without even realising it.

Careful observation is the secret to painting any subject well, but it is particularly so when it comes to reflections, as their effects can be hard to predict. However, understanding a little about the physics of reflections can be useful if you want to paint them convincingly. It is important to remember that few reflections are in fact a true mirror image and nearly all will be distorted in some way. To what extent these distortions occur will depend on several factors, including what shape the surface is, how rough or smooth it is, and the distance and angle from which we view it.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our June issue with plenty to inspire artists in all media. Watercolourists will love Amanda Hyatt's Five Steps to Watercolour technique with a 10-minute exercise to try, Ann Blockley's invitation to let go of reality and get creative with the medium, Jean Haines' advice on how to paint white flowers, while Julie Collins shows how adding ink can create definition and impact. For inspiration for oil painters don't miss cover artist Jason Sacran's step-by-step self-portrait, Patrick Cullen's article on painting in India and Paul Brown's advice on using just six colours to paint a landscape. For acrylic painters we have Michael Kidd talking about his stylised acrylic compositions, Jo Quigley's demonstration on how to paint successful reflections in acrylics and Marie Antoniou on how to transform a dull photo into an interesting painting, while Barry Herniman demonstrates the versatility of the under-used medium of gouache. With all this and much more, why not try a new medium or technique in the coming weeks under the guidance of our fantastic contributing artists!