Acrylic Painting “The Fifth of July” is nearly finished


just a few more things to work out with this one

by Robert Conway

Well here we are again, I’m getting down to the real nitty gritty with this painting and as I have said before this one is way out of my comfort zone because it has a person’s face in it which I have never painted before. This has always been my white whale. It also has to be perfect because it is a picture of my son which means it really has to look like him, the gravity of this matter is hitting me right now because I am still working on the face and there is still some delicate detailing that I have to do. For family reason’s it has to look exactly like him, I wouldn’t want this artwork hanging up somewhere and having one of my relatives asking me who is that kid in the painting? As Jerry Seinfield would say “That would be a big matzahย ball hanging out there”. Anyhow, if I could get the nose looking just right I think I would win the battle, I have had a few goes at this area already and it still doesn’t look quite right, I don’t want to obsess about this, if worst comes to worst, I will put this painting aside for a bit and think about it.

In my zealousness to accurately depict the face part of the artwork I have been bending one of my most important, unchangeable rules, Work the entire composition out evenly, which means that I have been avoiding certain areas of the acrylic painting, namely the four corners, I have to give them extra attention from now on, even though all the action is happening in the middle of the painting, the corners are the foundation of the composition and they have to convincingly depict that flatness of the surface of the water, or else the whole this is just going to be chaos.

Also, I have to work out the entire thing a little tighter, smooth everything out to so all the elements are working with each other and of course I have to throw a few more details in the mix and I think that will be the ball game.

One lesson that this old fish painter is learning from jumping out of his comfort zone is to take advantage of the big brushes when it comes to painting water, most importantly because it is going to save you more time in the end because you are covering more surface area. I have always had this compulsion to bring out the smaller brushes early because I like to get down and do some detailing right away, which I think comes from insecurity, now I have forced myself to use the big, wide brushes as for as long as possible with a painting, any kind of time saver is most welcome.

March 8, 2014


47 thoughts on “Acrylic Painting “The Fifth of July” is nearly finished

      • Exactly! When it gets into the muscles and bones, that is difficult for me as well! I am amazed at artists who have this gift! Have you ever seen a blog called Art for Nothing? She has amazing portraits!! They are simple watercolors, but I love the emotion she can convey!

        • I know when I was a lot younger I used to toy around with doing comic book illustration with all those different poses, I never got it at all, huts thinking about it. if I am going to paint a person I will have to hide their anatomy, either they are going to have to have a lot of clothes on or they will be underwater like this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Yeah. I hear ya! But human anatomy, mostly facial feature drawings are what I would like to get better at. I’ve been sketching people in public on the sly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I go to the library about once a week and usually sit somewhere a couple of tables away which is close enough to get general features of someone. I don’t know if you’ve seen them on my blog, though.

          • Yeah. But usually at the library they are using laptops or just reading books, actual books, believe it or not!
            ๐Ÿ˜‰ My husband and I check out books all the time, but I never carry a laptop, and my phone is always in my purse unless I have to call someone for some reason which is really rare!

  1. My mentor always used to say, use the biggest brush you can to get the job done. I still have to remind myself to do that occasionally, but when I do it I find that I can escape getting bogged down in detail and save the small brushes for when it really matters.

    • great quote Alli, words to live by but you always have to fight that urge, maybe it is because you like to see results right away. I am really trying to get my speed up so every painting doesn’t turn into an epic.

  2. It seems most artists (including me) will “challenge” themselves when they take on something out of their comfort zone. It also seems you are doing just fine with this painting Robert. I like the whole concept.

  3. I like this piece, and you should be fine at achieving a decent likeness with so few details to get lost in. I can understand your comments about struggling with anatomy โ€“ it’s one of my troublesome areas that stops me from creating certain types of images. I’m a digital artist for the most part, but love to see and hear the process from someone using traditional paint techniques.

    • yes anatomy is something that I have always struggled with over the years, it never looks right when I do it and I never felt comfortable when I have tried to paint or draw the human body, so at this point in my life I am just going to avoid it altogether, I am happy with how I am painting now and I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone pretty far, however this has always been a road block so me so I am not going to paint people unless they are in a swimming pool or in a sleeping bag or maybe mud wrestling.

  4. Many thanks for stopping by my blog recently. I am so impressed by your work and love that you are self-taught! I have no experience whatever of painting with acrylic so I’m looking forward to having a go at it one day.
    By the way I love how you painted the water. Just perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

    • thanks, when I’m painting the water I just tell myself that it should not be too hard to paint because the acrylic paint is so diluted with water its like a natural correlation. I have painted a lot of water in a lot of my koi paintings but the highly reflective pool water is an entirely different thing. One thing that has been a big help is that I don’t have to do a lot of paint mixing I have a light blue and a dark blue that work perfectly for this painting right out of the tube.

  5. Hello,
    Acrylic paint is a relatively fresh art material, having only become commercially available in the 1950’s following Dr. Otto Rohm’s development of acrylic resin, which formed the basis for the paint.

    • I am so glad you liked it, it is a new phase for me and I used to be intimidated by painting water but low and behold something just clicked in my brain and now I can’t get enough of it. I am going to have to take a lot of pictures around the pool this year. what I like about painting water is that you have some leeway, I mean if you make some mistakes no one is going to know, what I saying is if you are painting say someone’s portrait you have to be spot on, but when you paint water you can take a lot more liberties.

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