Saturday, June 19, 2021

Fake It Till You Make It -- Yes or No?

On the topic "fake it till you make it," today's post offers two widely different sub-topics.

Sub-Topic 1:  In a recent online discussion I heard from a professional artist that it's fine for beginner-artists, working in acrylics, to use student-grade paints, craft paints and house paints (latex house paints, I assume.)  This is the second time I've heard this from a professional artist.  Each speaks from personal experience, and the way they see the issue is valid for each of them. 

My opinion differs.  I want to call the above approach a way of "faking it till you make it," and I think that in this one situation, the "faking" with cheap acrylic paint is counterproductive.

It's been my personal experience that anyone who starts with student-grade, and similar lower-cost paints, is going to learn habits based on the behavior and the results achieved with these paints.

If the painter later moves on to high-quality acrylic paints, there will be an immediate need to learn new ways of working with high-quality acrylics, which have a higher pigment load as well as other superior qualities.  This is a set-up for frustration -- and for those on a tight budget, it actually wastes paint.

Nor is there a legitimate reason to avoid the high-quality paints at the starting gate.  In fact, I believe the opposite is true.  A beginning artist needs only a limited palette:  one warm red, one cool red; one warm blue, one cool blue; one warm yellow; one cool yellow.  And white.  From these, an artist can make blends to create a full range of colors.  

What's more important is that these blending experiences are extremely valuable.  They give the beginner information that will forever prove helpful.

Some artists will advise adding black to the above list.  If black is added, I believe its use should be limited to (1) using dabs of it to mix with bright paint blends, to tone them down; (2) in paintings that feature pure blacks and pure whites, with potential grays made from mixing these blacks and whites.  In all other applications, it's more visually pleasing to mix a near-black using complementary colors.  In a color painting, a near-black has life, whereas a dead-black straight out of the tube has a killing effect.

My experience has been that I want to paint rapidly, intuitively.  For this reason I like to rely on one main brand of acrylic paint, because I've learned what to expect from it.  At times I use other brands of acrylics, and altho they are also high-quality, their behaviors and results will vary from those that I've come to rely on.

Circling back to the topic of warm and cool colors:  The way I define them is to say that warm colors have undertones of yellow or red or orange.  Cool colors have undertones of blue, green and aqua.  

To approach the question of cool versus warm, I suggest collecting a slew of gray papers from magazine ads and other sources.  Spread them across the table and take time looking at each, under good lighting.  Some grays will have undertones of yellow.  Other grays will have undertones of blue.  If you're into making collages with papers that are black, white, and gray, you may react the way I do; I find it visually jarring to have warm grays in the same collage as cool grays.  To my eye, these two simply don't play well together.  

And in my opinion, it's the same with all colors.  

As an artist advances in skill and experience, it may happen that he or she will decide to purposely use warms and cools together, to make a jarring image that grabs attention.  Nothing wrong with that!  It's a case of knowing the basic "rules" before becoming skilled enough to break them, to achieve a particular effect.

One of the many superior qualities of higher-cost acrylic paints is that, except for the fluorescents, they are much more archival (longer-lasting) than the craft-grade paints.  When you pour your heart into making art, don't you want it to last?

Sub-Topic 2:  On a 6" x 6" greeting card blank (, I've stenciled a print using only the stencil part of my Hot Air Balloon and Mask s547 (shown in its entirety below) --

Above:  For today's project, I used the stencil on the far left. Centered above is the place where the mask sits when the stencil-and-mask set first arrives in your mailbox.  The figure on the far right shows the mask after it's been removed from the sheet of sturdy StencilGirl Mylar.

Note: This set of stencils and bonus mask can be difficult to use without masking tape, because the two stencils are so close to each other.  When printing with them, I use masking tape to block out the areas that I want to shield while paint is being applied.  In the example below, I'm using 9" x 12" Clustered Leaves, which is just that -- a cluster of leaves, all jammed closely together, just as the two hot air balloon stencils are.  To print just one leaf, I do this ....

Above:  I use this masking-off approach when working with the Hot Air Balloon series of stencils (which come in 3 sizes, including an Artist Trading Card size.) See the photo below....

That first hot air balloon print that I made -- using white heavy-body acrylic paint on blue "metallic"-sheened cardstock -- came out less than satisfactory.  By accident I'd ruined an area right beside the print, smearing it with paint.  (Because I was too hasty in removing the masking tape, which had still-wet paint on it!)  

Normally, I cover this kind of mistake with another paint layer, or I use paper to create a collage that conceals the flub.  

This time, however, neither option appealed to me.  Nor did it work when I tried to remove the paint-smear with rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab.  (That did remove the paint, but at the same time, it left a permanent mark on the card's metallic-look surface.)

What to do?

Cut out the print and use it on a new background!

What background?

Well, my collection of stencil-printed papers already held a paper that I'd decorated with my 9" x 12" Facets L283 stencil --

Above:  9" x 12" stencil Facets.

I'd made that earlier print on multi-faceted "holographic" foil (originally sold as gift-wrap.)  It looked like this:

Above:  The "holographic" foil is very difficult to photograph because it's highly reflective -- lots of bling!

To pursue my make-over idea in making a collage, I pulled out a new greeting card blank and used a gluestick to add this print to the cover of the card.  After setting that combination aside to dry overnight (pressed under the weight of a book), I cut off the excess foil, making it the same size as the greeting card.

Then I added the cut-out print I'd made with Hot Air Balloon and Mask 

To give the card cover additional depth,  I used 3-dimensional "glue dots."  In the photo below, this depth appears faintly, in shadow at some edges of the cut-out ....


I'm glad to have Hot Air Balloon and Mask s547 -- because it comes in handy when I want to make a greeting card or giftwrap with a theme that seems to be equally appealing to recipients both male and female.

Thanks for visiting here today!  To scroll thru the pages of my StencilGirl masks and stencils, please start here.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Cecilia; So glad you posted about using good brands of paint from the beginning. I also needed the reminder about using black. When I'm in a hurry it's too easy to reach for the bottle of Carbon black. I'm going to use complements more. I also will experiment with Payne's Gray as well. Very helpful post. Thank you. Jan