All about the inspiration behind the art. Acrylic Paintings, Impressionism, Art, Southern, Modern, Contemporary, Coastal, Flowers, Famous Places, New Orleans, Florida, Gulf Coast, Food, Expressionism, Fauve, Cityscapes, Architecture, Decor, Painting, Beach, Tropical, Seascape, Landscape, Still Life Mona Vivar Fine Art: December 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Year's Wish

At the end of this busy, challenging year, my thoughts turn gratefully to all who have touched my life.  To all my family, friends  customers, and readers old and new I wish you a bright new year of love, hope and comfort. 

Thank you each and every one and Happy New Year. 
Copyright Mona Vivar, West of Florida II, acrylic on canvas, 11 inches by 14 inches

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas and The Painting I Wish I Had Painted

Every Christmas I wonder what it would be like to have snow on the ground for the holiday.   Lower Alabama does not see snow very often.  I seem to remember that it snowed here late one Christmas eve, but it looked more like sleet and the ground didn't turn pristine white.   Oh well.  Anyway, the thought of snow gets me to looking at my favorite snow painting, The Magpie, by Claude Monet.
The Magpie is considered the best of over 40 paintings Monet did of snow scenes.  I agree.  It's not giant (35 inches by 51 inches), but what an impact it makes!  I lust over this painting with its rich texture, sunlight flowing between the gate slats and over the top of the snow piled high on the fence.  And then there is the lonely little bird (that's the magpie) sitting in the midst of this splendor.  Everything is quiet.  One's feet would crunch on the snow while walking.  I dream of those blue shadows.  It's the richness of the shadows and the contrast of the creamy color-filled white snow that makes this scene so gorgeous.  My mouth waters.  I want to go over to that gate, open it, and walk beyond.  I wish I had painted it.
I will share it with you instead and wish you a beautiful Christmas.
Claude Monet, The Magpie, 1868-1869, oil on canvas, 35 inches by 51 inches, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Image in the public domain of the United States

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make Acrylics Look Like Oil

My painting career has been filled with doubt about whether I should paint with oils or acrylics.  I happen to like both and have worked with both successfully.  Oils are so rich and buttery, but they take at least a few days or weeks to dry (even when mixed with alkyd mediums).  Acrylics, when used thickly, take no more than a few hours or overnight to dry enough to varnish, pack and ship.  Sometimes, though, acrylics can look a bit harsh or "plastic" because they are plastic.  
So that's my dilemma.  I paint with the idea that each painting will find a new home fairly rapidly.  I have to ship most of my paintings to my customers.  Time is of the essence.  I routinely use acrylics as my go to medium.  BUT I still want that rich, buttery oil look!  Agh!
I finally came across a tip that has helped me achieve the look I want.  I put 20 drops of acrylic retarder in a small 2 ounce spray bottle filled with water.  I shake it up well and use it to spritz my canvas and the paints on my palette (make it moist, not drippy).  This keeps the paint application flowing well so I can blend and soften edges as needed.  I use heavy body acrylic paint, usually Golden brand.  Then I add thick gel medium as well as acrylic retarder to my paint to make the paint nice and impasto thick.  I use bristle brushes and palette knives to apply paint just as I would with oils.
Take a look below at Daffodil Surprise detailed photosThis is a recent acrylic painting that I completed using exactly the technique described.  Looks like an oil painting.  Dry as a bone and ready to go!
Daffodil Surprise detail showing thick paint

Daffodil Surprise detail showing soft edges on right

Daffodil Surprise detail showing thick vigorous brushstrokes

Copyright Mona Vivar, Daffodil Surprise, 14 inches by 11 inches, acrylic on canvas
Now available in my Ebay store at Mona Vivar Fine Art

Friday, December 6, 2013

How To Make Lights In A Painting Glow

The one thing that magnetically attracts people to a painting is the use of light.  Subtle tones can work in some paintings, but I personally am bowled over by extremes in contrast.  The 17th century Dutch painters, and Johannes Vermeer in particular, were masters of light and contrast.  Their paintings shimmer with light ranging from velvety blacks to brightest whites.  So magical!
I am a firm believer that new art can build on the foundation of old art, so I strive to implement techniques used by those masters who have gone before.  I almost always employ both black and white in my paintings.  Even my abstract pieces.  That's how much I think that the Dutch Masters got it right.
So how do I make light work in a painting?  One recent example is from my New Orleans series.  I wanted to depict a trolley at night in downtown.  Night scenes have all the right contrast elements of darks and lights which go a long way to making a painting work for me.  The hard part of course is making the lighting in my painting look convincing.  For this I use a tip I learned while watching a painting video by contemporary realist master, David A. Leffel: subtly lighten the area a little nearest the object that light is striking in order to give the illusion of light glowing on the object.
Looking at my painting, Trolley Cheer, you see that the strongest light is inside the trolley and along the top of the trolley.  I put my whites in these areas and then lightened the nearest areas.  The yellow border around the trolley windows adds to the illusion of glowing light.  The white top of the trolley fades into pale blue.  The night sky above the trolley is lighter than the sky at the top of the painting.  All of these elements conspire to make the viewer experience the painting as a glowing night scene.  Just what I wanted!

Copyright Mona Vivar, Trolley Cheer, 11 inches by 14 inches, acrylic on canvas
Now available in my Ebay store at Mona Vivar Fine Art