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An inspirational and versatile medium

Jenny Wheatley discusses the pros and cons of using acrylics and demonstrates a studio painting, with insights into her working practice
In The Glasshouse, acrylic, 28x28in (71x71cm).

This was completed in situ because in the controlled atmosphere of the greenhouse, the paint was scrubbed on very immediately. There was a fair bit of alteration happening as I drew the subject in paint, but I wanted to keep the brushmarks much more obvious, particularly on the floor, in order to lead the eye in and hopefully add to the immediacy of the painting

A crylic is a medium that divides as well as inspires. In painting terms a new medium, it can be seen as artificial and a suspect interloper. For me, its one downside is that it can leave a rather shiny polymer surface once dried, particularly on paper.

Having said that it is an extremely versatile medium. Some people use it very much like a watercolour and the finished result can be almost indiscernible. Some use it as a substitute for oil painting, with quicker drying times and no smell of turps with which to contend. Some people use it as a quick form of underpainting for an oil, but be aware that it cannot be placed on top of oil paint as, although the oil may appear dry, it continues to move for a long time in some pigments. As acrylic forms a polymer seal as it dries, it is liable to cracking if laid over the slower drying oil paint.

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About The Artist

Take your drawing and painting to the next level with inspiration, guidance and advice from this month's top contributing artists and tutors. Cover artist, David Parfitt, shares how it's possible to work through a non-productive period to paint your best painting yet. Haidee-Jo Summers invites you to paint everyday, unarranged objects to discover more about design and composition. We also include demonstrations showing how to apply the one-stroke watercolour method, use a variety of techniques to enliven your watercolours, paint silver objects and reflections in acrylics, achieve the texture of rocky landscapes in pastels, use photographs as a memory aid, bring a portrait to life in oils, capture animals' expressions, and much more. Whatever your subject matter or preferred medium, there's something for everyone, and when you've created your best work, enter our 2019 open competition for a chance to see your work exhibited, published in The Artist, and win one of 40 prizes worth over £17,000!