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  • Writer's pictureJules

Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water

I've been struggling with translating my smaller works on watercolour paper with fluid acrylics, to larger scale canvaii with thicker paint. It still looks good, but it's not that much fun. The paints are harder to control and because of the size change, it takes much longer to get to the end to see if the result has worked or not.

The problems have been that the paint ends up patchy on canvas (not in the nice textured way with the watercolour paper) and it's hard to re-match a colour to tidy it up once you've done one coat (due to acrylic paint colour shift). So I'm doing layer after layer, and getting more and more annoyed with the final outcome. Other artists go for this layered look, and it looks amazing. But each time I try it, it looks like a mess, and interferes with my overall look I'm aiming for.

So, as any good scientist approaching art, I decided to change some variables. Only a fool does the same thing twice expecting the results to be different.

Things to change were:

- grain of the canvas (from larger grain to smaller, smoother grain).

- thickness of paint (from fluid paint to thicker more heavy body paint with a longer open/drying time)

- type of brush (from smooth watercolour type brushes to thicker more bristly brushes)

- use of a medium (from only water to a liquefying medium that improves the flow of the paint).

This all seemed like a super idea, and once I'd forked out an eye-watering amount for all these new items, I set to work. It would be great! I'd use all these things together and bang! A work of art would emerge, and I would never have to worry about my process again.


Life doesn't work like that, does it?

I tried all these new things, the new canvas, the new paint, the new brush, the new medium, all at once, and then immediately realised my mistake. None of it was working how I was used to. Everything was new, nothing felt intuitive, and each of these new variables was producing a different effect I couldn't control for.

My immediate reaction was just to abandon all the new things and return to struggling on with the old way. The familiar way. But, practically speaking, that wasn't an option. I had 14 new canvases with this new grain, which needed using. I had to find a way to make it work.

So, going back to being scientific about it all, I decided I needed to change ONE variable at a time. Just the canvas first and see how that worked. Then I could slowly introduce the other variables and see if they made the process any easier.

Well, that's the plan at least - I'll let you know if it starts to take shape or not. So far there's nothing been produced that's worth even a snippet of a photo on Instagram (oh, the pressure). But, nothing of worth was ever achieved by it being easy. There's meant to be sweat, tears and frustration. I just need to make sure that I keep the hope and optimism that eventually there'll be a breakthrough.

Boxes of canvases
Talk about pressure. 14 fine art canvases waiting for a masterpiece.

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