Friday, April 26, 2013

Evolving and Experimenting with Oil Over Acrylic

Let's face it. An artist evolves. As a matter of fact, everyone in every line of work evolves in their knowledge and skill level. I look at this evolution with great excitement and anticipation. It's darn fun!

So, I've taken on an experiment to see what I can create. I have pulled out some of my older acrylic paintings; ones that, for one reason or another, I didn't feel were up to par with what I intended to create. Using these paintings as an elaborate "under-painting," I have revised the compositions and colors by over-painting it with oil colors. As I learned quite a while ago, one can paint with oils over acrylic but not acrylic over oils. The difference is in the drying characteristics of each. Oil dries much more slowly so it can dry properly on top of acrylic but not underneath.

Using oil over acrylic is a common practice for some artists but this was new to me. The results are very pleasing to me -- and based on comments of others, pleasing to them as well. I am finding that the acrylic under-painting provides a platform for more brilliance and reflectiveness of the oil paints.

Here are two paintings using this method. The first is completed and now drying, Late Afternoon Sun - 12"x36" oil over acrylic on stretched canvas.

The second painting using this method is still in progress but here is a photo of the original version in acrylic and then the "almost completed" oil version.

Acrylic version
Oil over Acrylic

I have more work yet to do on this painting but I already like the brilliance in the colors over the original.

I'll let you know when it's finished.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My New Online Etsy Shop

Over the past few months, I have been doing quite a bit of plein air paintings. For those who may not be familiar with this term, “En plein air” is a French expression which means "in the open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors or "from life." I am therefore, rapidly creating an inventory of smaller canvases and canvas wrapped boards. Many artists have large studios or sufficient storage space. I have neither – maybe one day.

Following the example of a well-known artist, I have set up an online Etsy Shop as a way to make available my small plein air studies rather than letting them accumulate too quickly.

In some cases these are studies for larger paintings.  Others were created in the field as a way to quickly capture that special moment in time and place. You will also find small to medium-size studio paintings that I created in a one-day session to satisfy a moment of inspiration. These are mostly unframed canvases; however, some may be on gallery wrap (no frame needed) or have been framed to be able to exhibit in shows.

These field studies and studio paintings are smaller original paintings, painted in either oil or acrylic and are being made available at very affordable prices. Most of these paintings are for sale unframed unless otherwise noted. This allows the customer to frame the painting to fit their specific home decor.

The name of my Etsy Shop is Alan Zawacki Fine Art on Etsy.

Here are a few of the pieces that I just recently posted on the Etsy site... to see more information about them, please click on my Etsy Shop link:  Alan Zawacki Fine Art on Etsy


Until my next post, have a great couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Never Stop Learning

My motivation and inspiration for painting not only includes the joy of sharing my art with others but also the experience of personal growth in my skills as an artist. Last week I participated in five intensive days of group instruction with internationally renowned plein air artist, Morgan Samuel Price.

The week included daily demos and lessons by Morgan during the mornings. The group then applied the lessons-learned in the afternoons by painting at various Sarasota locations. I have to say that the week was both exhilarating and exhausting. What a week!

Before transitioning to become a fulltime artist, my primary career for the past 30 years revolved around corporate employee training and adult education. I guess once an educator always an educator, since I continue to be fascinated by the human learning process.  Last week, I experienced a perfect demonstration of a teaching and learning process that I used many times during my adult education career. It’s called, “behavior modeling.”

In a very simplistic nutshell, the behavior modeling process consists of:

1. An Explanation or Overview - The instructor discusses the objective and importance of the skill module and the specific behavior or critical steps of the activity to be learned.

2. A Demonstration - The instructor effectively utilizes the skill as the trainee observes.

3. Practice - The trainee practices the skill as the instructor observes.

4. Skill practice feedback - After the practice session, the trainee receives feedback from observers and the instructor that emphasizes things done correctly. Where the behavior or skill could have been more effective, alternative positive behaviors or skills are suggested.

When conducted well, this teaching and learning process is a very comfortable and effective fit for both the teacher and the student. My challenge now is to take the mound of information and skills that I picked up during that concentrated week and begin to apply it to my new works. As I continue to do that, I hopefully will experience something called "skill transfer" or in other words, personal growth.

Below, I've included one of my “almost completed” plein air studies of a garden sculpture that I painted on the grounds of the Ringling Museum last week. Since I usually spot a few things that I’d like to change once it’s back in my studio, I’ll be touching it up just a bit before it’s available for sale.
Have a great week, everyone, and keep on learning!