4 Types of Paint

There are 4 main types of paint that are popular these days. Oil, heavy bodied acrylic, fluid acrylic, and watercolour. Here are some of the basic differences. 1. Oil: The slow drying time of oils allows for beautiful blending and lovely soft edged gradations. It can be used thickly (called impasto) with luscious brush strokes showing lots of texture, or more thinly, with a smooth finish. I choose the water mixable oil. This paint responds to water while wet, so you can clean up with water instead of turpentine. Once dry, it is chemically identical to regular oils. The brand I use has the same drying time as regular oils too. Oil paints do have rules that must be followed so that the paint does not crackle after it is dry. 2. Heavy bodied acrylic: This paint will do the thick and textured brush strokes similar to oil. It is formulated to resist thinning with water. It dries much more quickly than oils, although very thick applications can still take hours, or even overnight. Recently manufacturers have come out with a variety of acrylic paints that have different drying properties, including some that are a bit slower drying to allow for blending of colours. Or you can buy an acrylic medium to extend drying time just when you want it. 3. Fluid acrylic: This paint thins well with water, while maintaining a rich pigment load for bright colour. That makes it perfect for wet and wild applications. If thinned enough with water, it will look identical to watercolour. If used in the consistency it comes out of the bottle, it can look like a smoothly finished oil painting. The main difference between it and watercolour is that when the fluid acrylic is dry, it no longer reactivates with water. This makes layering of colour (glazing) much easier. 4. Watercolour: Traditionally used in a delicate or pale colour manner, today’s watercolour paints have enough pigment load to do both rich and dark colours if desired. Watercolour in a painting reactivates when rewet, making lifting techniques possible. Lifting is used not only for correcting, but for beautiful painting effects as well. And the flow of watercolour paint placed into a wet area on the watercolour paper can delight both artist and art lover. That’s a really brief summary. When new students ask me which type of paint to buy, I suggest that they go to some local art galleries, and see what type of paintings please their eye. Each type has both advantages and disadvantages, its own joys and challenges, and it’s more important to love the effects that you see in a certain paint type, than to worry about rumours of one being easier or harder to learn. Your comments welcome. 

En Plein Air

EN PLEIN AIR Summer is here, and up from the grass /  Spring lots of easels, painters having a blast. /  If they’re actually painting, or just soak in the sun, /  Plein air painters sure have lots of fun. /  So don’t be suprised, when the painters are gone, /  By orange, red or turquoise blades of grass in the lawn. /  Cheryl O (I know, I should stick to painting 😉 

6 Fun Ways to Explore Colour

Sure you have your favourite colours to paint with. That’s a good thing. However, maybe you are ready to change things up and try some completely different colour combination. Here are some ways to explore – the idea is to use the colours, but not with the same subject: 1. Check out your favourite multi coloured shirt or scarf. What colours are in it? Paint with them. 2. Go for a walk and choose some colour combinations from nature to paint with. 3. Look at your favourite famous painting. Use those colours in a painting – of a completely different subject. 4. Google “Hubble telescope images” and choose the colours from a part of one of those photos. 5. Go for another walk and find a stone with colours you like – paint with them. 6. Choose a favourite photo and use some of the colours in it to paint a different subject. Possible colour combinations are endless, and each has it’s own unique impact and mood. Have fun exploring! 

Van Gogh – Up Close!

Just back from a wonderful 1 week holiday in Ottawa! Spent time at the National Gallery and at the special exhibit “Van Gogh: Up close”. There are over 40 van Gogh paintings plus some of his drawings! My favourite was “View of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer” with lavender fields in the foreground and town with castle in the distance. It was also wonderful to see the famous “Almond Blossom” up close, and I was quite taken by a painting called “Wheat Fields with Sheaves” that I had not seen before in any of my books. The tree trunks in “The Large Plane Trees” were stunning. Although there were a number of his lesser works that were not quite as interesting, there were more than enough fantastic paintings to make this trip worthwhile. Here’s the link to information about the show at the National Gallery in case you have the chance to go van Gogh! 


“Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” Ovid –  Don’t you love good advice that comes from the 1st century B.C.? And in keeping with this good advice – I will be on holidays from June 16 through to June 24, and taking a rest from the blogosphere too. The next blog post will appear on June 25. Hope you have a good week, and that you have some rest time planned for this summer too! 

The Quest for Meaning

Setting aside the search for great composition, colours, and all that goes into a well created painting, at times I stop and ponder the larger meaning behind my art. I think it comes down to this for me – I hold beauty in high regard. Beauty has been a long time theme for me, and one that can be applied to any subject. I hope to delight the viewer with lovely lines, shapes, and colours. More recently, I have also wanted to include a sense of mystery so that the viewer’s imagination can participate in the art. This is accomplished by leaving some things within the painting in an unfinished state; soft edges, understated colour, layers of shapes that merge and re-emerge. You can watch for this theme in my art as I plan to work on this aspect of painting more this summer – beauty plus mystery. Since art is a language, there are as many different potential themes as there are different individuals. What about you? Do you have any overriding themes for your paintings or for the art that is on your walls?