Ebley Mill, Stroud: acrylic 6×6 inches

I don’t use acrylic very often these days, having found it less effective for larger work than pastel….less effective for me personally, that is, according to how I work. However I have used it for small-scale work, such as “Groundsel” which was painted with small brushes on a black card.

“Ebley Mill” was a bit of an experiment, as was “Groundsel”. This time I used hot-pressed watercolour paper as my surface, aiming to create an image in a miniature-style….I hasten to add that the brushstrokes themselves are NOT miniaturised, that’s something I’ll leave to the folk who dedicate long hours to painting through a magnifying-glass.

The paper was taped to a support board and an outline of the landscape marked in lightly with a watercolour pencil (not a graphite one). I worked the paint with water mixed with Golden’s Polymer medium; using a set of small-scale brushes made by Winsor & Newton.

The first issue I encountered was the fact that the paper did not allow for much pigment-spreading; hot-pressed never does. In due course the early layers of colour became somewhat dull and I had to rework them; but in the end they came out ok. The trees were particularly interesting to do, firstly making a very dark mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna, then leaving it briefly to dry; then the application of lighter green using the blunt tip of a small rounded bristle brush, The fast-drying nature of the paint allowed this layering to be repeated fairly quickly, thus building up the density of the trees.

The canal-water was heavily rippled and most reflections were destroyed, so several thin coats of blue-white paint were applied over the initial colour-washes below the buildings. Acrylic yellows can be very strong; the left foreground actually had some golden flowers in it but I opted to make this section more muted, so that it didn’t distract from the mill building.

I have a number of ideas for more small works; I have done lots of them in the past but put them aside for a while to focus on developing the pastel work. They provide a great deal of satisfaction when completed.

Now, finally….I’m not sure yet when my next NEW completed painting/drawing will materialise. This month has so far been very busy and very tiring, with more to follow; due to my involvement with non-art societies and other interests. I’m feeling quite drained at present. I’ve also got to prepare work for a local group show in early December. However, I’ll probably have a post of some sorts before the end of October, even if it’s just a review, or a drawing method, or some other angle.

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