Painting with Acrylics

April 22, 2020

Jane puts her talents to good use for the local beavers group, creating a series of photo cutout boards for use at the summer beavers camp. Using acrylic paints on plywood she walks through the process here.

Using acrylic paint

My favourite medium is and has been coloured pencils for many years, but sometimes when I want to loosen up I turn to acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint is water soluble and once it has dried it is then permanent. Remember to clean your brushes in warm soapy water after use.

I also like acrylics because if I make a mistake I can just paint over it and start again.

A good medium to use with acrylics is flow enhancer…. what does that do? What flow enhancer does is gives you a flat finish with no brush strokes it also thins your acrylics.

A good excuse to paint!

My best friend asked me to paint a massive board (appox 6ft x 4ft) for a beavers camp one summer about 4 years ago. Since then, every year, I have produced a screen for her. She wanted to use it so that the kids could put their heads through a hole and have their picture taken.

Just like the kind of thing you see at the seaside.

In total I’ve produced 5 boards. 

Painting the Hawaii board

I’m going to talk through the creation of the Hawaii board, the latest one that I painted. It was a challenge and I wanted it look like a postcard.

Each board started off as an A3 drawing and once I’m happy with the design I can then start to transfer the design to the board. The boards were all plywood which my kind husband cuts to size and once the design has been drawn on he creates the ‘head-holes’ – smoothing off the edges everywhere to avoid splinters!

I have folded the A3 design into 8 so that when it comes to enlarging the image, as I transfer it to the board, it makes it easier. (You can just see the folds on the paper.)

Prep’ing the board and starting to paint

To prepare the board I paint it with a primer (white gesso) to give the board a good surface to paint on to.

Once dry, I have drawn a grid on to the board of eight squares. So as I said earlier folding the drawing in to eight can help to enlarge the image by drawing each square at a time on to the board by hand.

Then simply start painting!

I always start with the background. It helps to know how opaque the colours your using are, if they are semi transparent then you may need more than one coat.

Base areas

In this picture I’ve put down a base for the sea, the palm trees the Island and I’ve started the totem pole. With acrylics I like to build up colour, some areas I want a flat colour and other areas I want to achieve movement.

Adding more detail

Now I’ve put down the base colour for the hula dancer and added to the palm trees.

Adding different tones

I’m working on the totem pole. Adding different tones of brown.

Making the sea move!

More work to the totem pole, and I’ve added to the sea to give it movement.

I’ve added the word Aloha! It’s starting to take shape now.

Looking like a postcard

It’s getting there now with the word Hawaii at the bottom. It’s starting to look like a postcard.

3 shades of green…

I’ve worked on the grass skirt to give it some movement. To create this I use a wide brush and pick up 3 different shades of green (on the brush at the same time) and the colours mix together as I move the brush over the surface. I’ve worked on giving the girl shades on her skin to add tone.

Finishing touches

I’ve got to the point for finishing touches. All that is is adding an outline in black. I use a Posca pen as this works beautifully over acrylic.

The finished article

And finally…

The finished design with my head in the totem pole.

The kids loved it!

Jane is a member of the Gadsby’s team. She has a wide knowledge of the arts & crafts products and materials sold by Gadsby’s both from the perspective of an advisor in the shop and, for many of the products, from personal use too.

Please note that this is not a service that Gadsbys offer to clients – just an example of the private work done by one of the highly skilled and knowledgable Gadsby’s team shown for your interest.


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