Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blending a Background

I wanted to show a gradient of color as a background on my latest painting project. Blending large areas with acrylics is not an easy task to accomplish. The acrylics unlike oils like to dry fast which leads to possible un-uniform or a poor gradual transition from one color to the next.

When I want to cover a large area I make sure I have plenty of paint mixed up so as not to run out and then try to re-mix more paint and not have the exact combination to match the earlier mixture. Painting a gradual transition on a smaller canvas is a lot simpler than a larger canvas such as a 24"x48" which is the case in this project.

In order to make my transition of color look smooth, I mix three different mixes of the same color. By this I mean I would take the original mix, only this time I would add some white to lighten it up. This would give me my middle tone. Then I would take that combination and make an even lighter mix and that would give me my high tone "lightest value". So in essence I have three different swatches of paint on my palette, once again a step not needed when it comes to a smaller canvases.

I was working on two panels at the same time in order to maintain consistency because these panels are to be placed almost side by side so I wanted it to look uniformed. I placed both canvases on a table only because these were gallery wrap canvases and I wanted to get the edges at the same time. Working quickly, I stated at one end "bottom" with my darker color painting towards the center; once close to the center of the canvas I added the mid-tone and blended the two colors together. Making sure my brush was clean I added the lighter mix and blended it with the mid-tone, then continued to paint to the end of the canvas "top" with the lightest color.

24"x48" gallery wrap canvases painted on a table.

24"x48" canvases on my wall easel ready for paint.

One thing to remember is that you have to make sure you have a clean brush for the purest color areas. If you happen to also know how to use an air brush, this is an alternative way. What can I say, I got lazy and did not want to set up my guns, let alone the clean up work. You might want to have an extra brush or two for the blending areas. I always went back and quickly cleaned my brush. With practice and a no fear attitude of making a mistake you too can blend your backgrounds with acrylic paints. Now let's paint!