Acrylic painting of two yachts on the ocean

My First Painting With Acrylics

When it comes to artwork, these days I’m looking to work at speed. So many times in the past, I’ve started pieces that took hours — or sometimes never even got finished. I’m just looking for a bit of creative expression, without putting in the hours to create an intricate, labour-intensive piece of work. I want to create more, finish pieces more quickly, and move on.

This is part of the reason I enjoy creating vector graphics — in some ways, their simplicity allows me to work fast and reach a ‘shippable’ end result quickly, but they too can be intricate, precise and time consuming sometimes.

I stumbled across the work of Cathleen Rehfeld on Instagram, and was inspired by her bold use of colour and rough-feel, broad-stroke, impressionistic oil landscapes, and I wondered about getting myself some oil paints.

I was first given a set of oil paints at the age of nine. I couldn’t get on with the stink of the turpentine. They were too messy for little nine-year old me. After a quick bit of research, I found that oil paints require a fair bit of space — to store the piece while it dries, the paint on the palette, and also a well ventilated space. I figured oil paints weren’t for me right now.

I decided to go down the route of acrylics as an alternative, and picked up some cheap ones from B&M — £5.99 for 18 different colours £1.49 for an extra tube of white, £3.99 for some basic brushes and £2.99 for a set of four 6×6 canvases, of which I bought two packs.

Once I’d bought them, I felt the creative anxiety set in. This often happens — inspiration and enthusiasm hits, and when I go to do something about it, fear and confusion sets in. It came several times, and I became afraid that I wouldn’t translate the ideas in my head onto the canvas effectively.

I didn’t paint immediately upon getting home. I accepted that the inspiration had gone, and left it at that. Later on however, while dinner was cooking, I fancied having a go. I opened up my new paints, brushes and canvases and made a start — even if it was just to see how the paint worked on the canvas. Once again, the creative anxiety set in — that constant fear that I’m not going to produce anything of any worth. I pushed through it.

I tried a colour graduation with the vague idea of painting a sky. I didn’t really know where I was going with it, but soon I was mixing colours for a patch of sea. I painted some clouds in, and added a couple of rough yachts on the horizon as the final strokes on the canvas.

The painting took about half an hour, and I was pleased with the result. It’s not remarkable by any stretch, probably not even portfolio worthy. In hindsight, I wished I painted right to the edge of the canvas.

This was an exercise in facing the fear, and pushing through it. Of not being afraid to try new things — and to not be very good at them. It’s about finishing what I start. It’s early days yet in my exploration of acrylics, but I’m looking forward to being bolder with the brush strokes, and the colours, and really letting myself go.

See more of my traditional art in the gallery.



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