Basic Acrylic Painting – Canvas Prep and Undercoat

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 49,256
    Painter Mary Gallagher-Stout discusses prepping a canvas and undercoating for basic acrylic painting.

    Mary Gallagher Stout: Hi! I am Mary Gallagher Stout and we are at the Lorton Workhouse, where my studio is. We are painting a very ferocious, stony lion today. So before we get started, we have to prepare our surface and we are using clear jesso. We will really use two coats of clear jesso to give the surface some tooth for our ground coat of paint. So let's get started. So we are just going to take a roller and we are going to wet. Clear jesso actually looks white. Its a very milky color but it dries clear. You are just going to want a roll from left to right or right to left, whichever you prefer. Because its a small surface, it doesn't really matter either way. If you were doing a large surface, that's when going left to right would be more important, if your left handed or right handed because you don't want to paint over yourself, like its tiring, especially, if you are doing a large wall.

    So I am putting on two coats of this jesso. I am making sure I get full coverage. There we are. Now this needs to dry, before we can put on our ground coat. We can help it dry quicker by using a blow dryer. We are just going to plug in a blow dryer and dry this up to get to a dry state and lay in the ground paint. So we are at the point where we are ready to lay in the ground color and we are using three different glazes, the golden glazes. Two of them are right out of the bottle which is the mustard-yellow and this is golden-crimson glaze. This is a glaze that I mix, which is just one part burnt sienna and one part golden glazing mix. So what we are going to do is we are just going to dab our roller into each. This is the real fun part of the painting where you get to just go hog wild and rubbing all kinds of texture and fun. Its just warming up and setting a temperature for the stone that we are creating, which is a warm tone. So that's why I am using warm colors. So let's get started. I am just going to put these aside here. Be mindful, you have to have a rag or a cheese cloth nearby because after you roll it on, they leave black lines and you are going to need your cloth to tap out to help blend in and make it smooth. It doesn't need to be completely smooth, but you don't want to see black lines from using a roller. So get your trusty roller and I am just dipping in the first one, some yellow. You are just going to be really irregular with it because you are just really putting on some temperature, like I said. So it doesn't really matter where it goes because we are going to blending it and warming it up. It looks really ugly right now, but do not worry. Its just the under painting. We are putting on warmth, so you can see almost like a sun shine poking through and some red. Its just going to warm up our lion, when we put on the warm glaze that we are going to built him out of. So I am putting on all my colors and I want it to be irregular because he is made of stone and I don't think, stone is very regular in color. Its, kind of, all over the place. So I am just going to put in a little more yellow here. You just, kind of, paint to your liking. Like I like warm spots, and redder spots, and yellower spots because I think it creates a more interesting piece in the end. Because we are using a acrylic colors which are transparent and we are working in layers, so we are building up the colors. So you are going to be able to see these colors through each consecutive layer. So thats why I want it to be nice and snuggly warm, so my lion looks like he is just basking in the sunshine and just happy to be a lion.

    So now you can see some of these black lines, that's what I am talking about, a black line. You don't want that because that looks pretty awful. So if you are getting that, you are just going to dab it out. You see that the rag is going to leave its own texture, which is great because that's what you want. We are creating a stone, so we want it to have a lot of movement and texture. Thats the other really cool thing about acrylics, they do dry so fast. That means you can layer them a lot quicker than if you are using oils and solvents which takes forever to dry.

    I think it looks nice and irregular. You can see all three colors and its really given the surface a nice warm feel. We are going to dry it with a blow dryer and then we are going to be adding in some greediness by spattering some paint, next.