After becoming disheartened recently with my approach to painting with acrylics, I've stepped back a little and reassessed my materials and my methods. As I've described in earlier posts, my technique previously relied on applying layer after transparent layer of heavily diluted paint to sealed watercolour paper, gradually working up to the intensity of colour and tonal value I wanted. I like the textures I'm able to achieve using this technique and have generally been happy with the results unless I've been careless with the application of paint and have overshot the mark. Without the means to "undo" a layer or two, I've often been left with nowhere to go.
Something about Kelly Singleton's recent post of a work-in-progress featuring a pronghorn antelope provided the spark to rethink my approach and, after re-acquainting myself with the methods described by my idol Robert Bateman, I was inspired to return to gessoed masonite and opaque acrylic paint - Bateman says he mixes white even with his darkest colours to achieve this opacity.
My first day with this painting was extremely frustrating as I struggled to find a technique which worked for me. Initially, I diluted my paint as I have in the past but it was as if the gessoed surface repelled the paint, forcing it to clump uncontrollably. Once I'd experimented with a thicker consistency, the paint behaved more predictably and I began to feel I was making headway. After several days work, progress has been slow, but I'm really enjoying the luxury of being able to paint over any areas requiring adjustment. Without the pressure to get it right the first time, it's as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The painting measures 36" x 18" and, at my current pace, might be finished by Christmas! My aim now is to develop a faster method of working without compromising the results. Most obviously, I need to modify my process and begin by blocking in to establish form and tone before I begin to refine the painting and add detail. In my defence, I was keen to bring at least a small part of the painting to something approaching a completed state just to prove to myself that I could apply these unfamiliar techniques successfully.
I'll be making good use of artistic license and will insert a dingo into the lower right foreground. I've not seen one at this spot yet, but their tracks are commonplace and I don't think I'm stretching the truth too much. With an abundance of wildlife in the area I'm sure a dingo has stood in this spot at some time, or will at some point in the future!