"Painting for People Who Can't Draw" FAQs
- Q. I use Golden gel medium for my collages. Does this mean that I can use only Golden acrylic paints?
A. No, if you like to use a painting medium--something to thin out the color and give it more body--you can mix Golden mediums (gel, paste, or liquid) with any brand of acrylic paints.
- Q. I have a bunch of acrylic paints, some in tubes, some in bottles, and some in jars. They're all different brands. Can I still use them for painting on canvas?
A. Yes, you can. You may have some problems mixing different brands together. The quality of the pigment and the base that it's in can result in muddy colors or an unnatural, plastic appearance. Or, they may work together just fine. You'll find out when you try mixing them on your palette. If you don't like the way the paints mix, don't put the resulting colors on your canvas.
In time, you'll find out which of your paints seem to "like" each other, and which really don't play well with others.
But, for your basic red, yellow, and blue, I recommend sticking with just one brand of acrylic paints. And, whatever white you use, get a good brand such as Winsor & Newton Finity, or Golden brand, or a mixable white (Titanium white is good) from any quality artist line.
- Q. What's the difference between the paint in tubes and the paint in bottles?
A. They're pretty much the same, but the paint in bottles has been thinned with water. Additionally, it may have been specially treated so that the pigment stays suspended in the liquid.
Paint in tubes is thicker, so it'll last longer and go farther. But, especially if you're using a cheaper brand of paint, it may not thin well (that is, consistently) with water.
Unless you're putting on a thin wash, this usually isn't an issue. So, I recommend buying paint in tubes.
But, if you've already bought paint in bottles or jars, or if you prefer that kind of paint, you can use that too.
Paint in jars and bottles can be mixed with other colors that you've bought in tubes. And all of them can be mixed with water.
- Q. Can I use acrylic paints like watercolors?
A. Yes. In fact, I recommend acrylics for this purpose if you want the most vivid colors. However, if you're going to thin acrylics that much with water, it's important to use a high quality paint with very finely ground pigment. Otherwise, the pigment tends to blob together in areas, creating an inconsistent wash of color. Generally, you cannot use the Wal-Mart 69-cent bottles of acrylic paint for this. I recommend Maimeri's Brera acrylics if you're treating them like watercolors.
- Q. I want to learn to paint with watercolors. Will your "Painting for People Who Can't Draw" class teach watercolors?
A. In this class, I can teach you the basics of painting with any medium. However, I prefer it if students paint with acrylics, used full-body on canvas.
The reason for this is simple: Watercolors are generally used as a translucent (see-through) medium. If you make a horrendous mistake, you must either start over with a new sheet of paper, or come up with a tremendously creative solution to the problem.
With acrylics, if you make a mistake, you can always wait ten or 20 minutes for the paint to dry, and then paint right over it as if the mistake was never there. Nobody has to know. When you're learning, this is important.
Also, most watercolor artists use sketches to layout their designs. The drawing underneath the painting will usually show through here & there. This means that it should be a fairly good-looking drawing. And, in a class that's specifically for people who can't draw... that's a problem.
With acrylics, we may start out with a sketch, too. But, it will be fully covered by the finished painting. So, if it's a pretty awful sketch, it's okay.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I will be teaching the basics of watercolor techniques, whether you're using acrylics (thinned out with water) or actual watercolors. I'll be showing how to use watercolors (or thinned acrylics) over quick sketches in your travel journals or field studies.
And, you can take the entire class using just watercolors if you'd like.
- Q. What about gouache?
A. That's a medium that offers the ease of watercolors and the opaque quality of acrylics. And, it can be used on watercolor paper, making it a great choice for some people who travel. However, gouache can crack and even flake off after it's dry, so it needs to be handled carefully when you're taking it home.
Because I'm not good about being careful with my art, I've used gouache very little, and lack technical expertise in it.
For my classes, I ask students not to use gouache unless they really really want to. I will not teach the specifics that are unique to gouache, but my rules of color, etc, apply to all media. So, if you are desperate to paint with gouache, or accidentally bought some, it's okay. Bring it anyway.
- Q. What about oil paints?
A. For most workshops and classes, I teach with acrylic paints. This is because oils can take days, or sometimes weeks to dry. And, if you use a drying agent, the paint can crackle later.
Oil painting requires slightly different techniques, but I prefer oils for my landscape studies.
When drying time is not an issue, I paint with water-soluble oils rather than acrylics. I've used Grumbacher's Max oil paints for nearly ten years now, and I'm very happy with them.
They are "real" oil paints. And, they really do mix with water, and clean up completely with soap & water. No turpentine is necessary, ever.
If you use these in class, be prepared to carefully carry wet canvases home with you. If you're a local student so that's not a problem, it's okay to use water-soluble oil paints in my classes.
If you're using traditional oil paints for my classes, and will use open containers of linseed oil and turpentine, we may ask you to do your actual painting outside. This is because many artists have developed severe allergies to turpentine in particular. And, the strong odors of the painting mediums as well as the turps can give some people headaches anyway.