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Acrylic painting media have a high degree of glassy transparency.  They also are compatible with a variety of other media.  The transparency of acrylics allows an artist to create deep layers of undulating sheer color.  Because these layers are not entirely flat, they change as the viewer’s perspective changes.  The effect is not exactly like rippling water, but it can be used to create a feeling of lively movement and immediacy in a painting.

detail image from by the beautiful Sae demonstrating a thick glassy acrylic paint pattern
Detail from By The Beautiful Sea, extrusion and pouring techniques using tinted acrylic gel media create complex glassy films of color resembling water

Because acrylic painting media come in a variety of thicknesses (or viscoelastic properties if you’re an engineer), there are several ways to create unique patterned glassy film.  I use a combination of acrylic extrusion and liwuid in liquid pouring techniques.   Extruded films and tinted patterned paint and media that are squeezed though a nozzle.   The result is a soft structurally stable ribbon of three dimensional paint.  Golden Heavy Gel has enough structural integrity to actualy span small gaps, and “air space” can be added to a painting.  When these ribbons dry, they retain their shape and integrity.  Depending on the paint to media ratio the ribbons can be transparent and glassy, sheer, or opaque with a more “plasticy” look and feel.

gelid seascape revised det2
Detail from gelid Seascape. Extruded ribbons of acrylic have different shapes depending on the nozzle used in extrusion. They dry to form three dimensional structures. the finishes range from clear and glassy to sheer, to opaque and “plasticy”

 

Poured layers can also be used to create a thick glassy film, either alone or in combination with extruded structures.  When used in combination, the extruded structures control the flow of the liquid.  Highly fluid media will tend to mix together through diffusion.  By selecting media of different viscosities (thicknesses), diffusion and mechanical (convective) mixing can be controlled.  These properties are used to create soft foamy patterns, complex sheer swirls and layered streams within the films.  I have also developed some specialized liquid into liquid pouring techniques that produce predictable complex patterns in thick acrylic liquid pours.

betwixt sand and sky det1
Detail from Betwixt Sand and Sky. Several different liquid acrylic techniques were used to create the complex layered patterns in this abstracted seascape. The lower layer is primarily liquid paint swirled into liquid media. The zig-zagged striped patterns used a specialized technique i developed with Golden’s clear tar gel. The high elasticity of the gel liquid creates zig-zag flow instabilities. Some very fine width extrusion into the liquid layers can also be seen.
Detall from Cresting wave mixed media seascape painting.  Complex swirling patterns were created using a specialized liquid pouring technique that i developed for elastic acrylic liquid media.  When a "softer" less elastic medium like "Slef levelling gel" is used in place of the more elastic "Clear tar gel", softer and more rounded patterns are created.
Detall from Cresting wave mixed media seascape painting. Complex swirling patterns were created using a specialized liquid pouring technique that i developed for elastic acrylic liquid media. When a “softer” less elastic medium like “Slef levelling gel” is used in place of the more elastic “Clear tar gel”, softer and more rounded patterns are created.

There are also materials that are compatible with acrylic that help bring light into a painting.  Glass lenses and retroreflective spheres can actually cast light into the clear acrylic film.  These glass elements create light effects that move with the viewer and with changing light sources.  MIca, metal foil, metal powder and reflective media also manipulate light in a painting.  In several of my seascapes I use reflective media like mica and foil under a sheer layer of color to create subtle shimmering effects.

detail from Rhapsody on the Sea
Detail from Rhapsody on the Sea. Sheer layers of acrylic over mica and reflective metal foil create subtle glimmering movement in the painting.

Flip pigments are multicoated pigment particles with nanolayers of different refractive index coating the pigment.  They provide the same type of directional dependent color change as the rainbows that you see in an oil slick on water.  Because the layered coatings on the particles are precisely engineered the color change is also more distinct and precise.  These pigments can be used to create flickering rippling movement effects.

filigree shoreline det5
Detail from Filigree shoreline. Flip pigments change colors depending on viewer angle and create motion. These hi-tech pigments are layered with thick glassy acrylic and retroreflective glass spheres. Here the glass spheres are shown in a flash photograph. Flash photography emphasizes the retroreflective properties of the glass spheres.

 

Of course, to make all of these ideas and techniques actually work as a seascape requires an awareness of the composition, color range, gradations of hue and intensity and other aspects of seascapes and shorelines.  The relative simplicity of seascape compositions opens up a range of possibilities for experimentation.

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I hope you enjoy!   Questions? comments?  Contact me using the form below:

 

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