Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Linda MacAulay I Colour In Your Life

Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Linda MacAulay I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name is Graeme Stevenson and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world, and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Okay viewers, welcome back to Color In Your Life. Well we’re at the studio of Linda MacAulay today, (Graeme) welcome to the show Linda. (Linda) Thank you Graeme. (Graeme) It’s going to be a fantastic day. (Graeme) Now I would describe Linda as the Professor of Paint, linda Hahaha (Graeme) because you’re one of those ladies that knows absolutely just about everything. (Graeme) I mean you are one of the leading demonstrators for Matisse in Australia as well, (Graeme) but when you actually sit down and talk to Linda about all of the different processes, (Graeme) and all of the different mediums that you can use. (Graeme) I mean there’s some really fascinating stuff that I was completely unaware of myself. (Graeme) Even the translucencies and the transparencies that you put into your work, it’s quite fantastic. (Graeme) But you’ve had a pretty impressive career; you’re an award winning watercolor artist. (Graeme) Came from Perth, moved to Melbourne, (Graeme) and literally were at resident at Uluru. Very much an Australian landscape artist, (Graeme) but also you put some really whimsical type pieces together, (Graeme) I think on some of our beautiful Australian animals as well. (Graeme) But give, give me an overall view of your view and who your career is. (Linda) I’m really passionate about Australia and the colors and the landscape. (Linda) And this is mainly because I spent ten years painting in Western Australia, (Linda) where you’ve got all those beautiful rich reds and turquoise colors. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) And what I’ve tried to capture in my landscapes is the way the light transitions across the landscapes. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) So I’ve gone from watercolor which produced almost like a static painting, (Linda) to wanting to produce something that’s bigger and brighter. (Graeme) But we’re going to paint a valley or a, what would you call it? (Linda) We’re going to paint Walpa Gorge today. (Graeme) Okay, there you go. (Linda) Which is based in Kata Tjuta in Central Australia. (Graeme) Okay. And once again using some of these principles as well to develop the picture. (Graeme) But it’s really quite fascinating, it’s just for somebody to have that much knowledge (Graeme) about how their medium actually works, is just going to be a treat for everybody. (Graeme) So lets get this one out of the way, (Graeme) and we’ll start on that particular piece and go through for the day. But this is going to be a really interesting day. (Linda) Terrific, looking forward to it. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) Thank you…. (Linda) I’ve already thinned these paints down a bit using acrylic painting medium. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) And you can see it’s a little bit runny, (Linda) and I do this so I can blend the paint really well. (Linda) I always use house painting brushes when I’m doing my backgrounds. (Linda) And when I was studying at Tafe they used to call me the Formula One painter, (Linda) because I’d be out with the house painting brushes and, and quite quickly. (Linda) So I’m going to paint both the sky and the water at the same time. (Graeme) Oh right, okay. (Linda) So I’ll start with the white and I’ll blend from the lightest color to the darkest color. (Graeme) And your actually working of one of your reference photos for this today aren’t you? (Linda) That’s right, I’m working from one of the photos I’ve taken of Walpa Gorge. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) And while I’m out there as well I do small watercolors. (Linda) One of the things I feel is really important as an Artist, (Linda) is for you to work from your own source material, (Linda) and have some kind of personal connection to the work that you’re doing. (Linda) And I’m using these just cheap brushes from Bunnings. I love these brushes. (Graeme) But they’re great for those broad strokes aren’t they? (Linda) Oh they’re fantastic. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) I’ve finished with this color so I’m just going to pop that in, (Linda) and start with the Cerulean Blue. (Linda) And there’s quite a bit a strong tone difference between the Sky Blue and the Cerulean Blue. (Linda) So then I have to spend a little bit more time blending that one. (Linda) I’m going to stick a bit more of that in the water. (Linda) Basically what I’m doing with the water is painting a mirror image of the sky (Graeme) Ah huh. (Linda) as it goes. (Linda) I’ve got to keep wiping that excess paint off so I can blend. (Linda) The last color I’m going to use is Colbert Blue. (Graeme) Very striking colors but. (Linda) Yeah I love these strong colors; it’s very Australian. (Linda) There’s nothing like the blue (Graeme) Yes. (Linda) you see out in the desert. (Linda) So that looks really streaky, but the next stage I do is a step I actually call polishing. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) Were I let this dry to the point that it’s almost dry, (Linda) but not quite, and then I’ll go over it with a dry brush.(Graeme) Okay, and you call it polishing do you? (Linda) I call it polishing (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) just because it flattens out the brush strokes, (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) and produces that really smooth effect that you see on my work. (Graeme) Yeah, cause I was wondering how you got those magnificent graduations, (Graeme) particularly in the skies, they’re so smooth. (Linda) Yeah well I spend a lot of time painting my backgrounds. (Graeme) To get the skies that you get as well, (Graeme) because they’re so smooth in there approach is that you actually put a drying retarder in there, (Graeme) so you can get the smoothness of graduations. (Linda) That’s right Graeme. (Linda) The drying retarder slows down the drying of the acrylic paint. (Linda) And particularly because I do a lot of painting in Central Australia where it’s quite hot, (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) it’s important to add that drying retarder to give me more time to paint. (Graeme) Sure. (Graeme) Okay, well the sky looks fantastic as you’ve smoothed it out. (Linda) Yeah, (Linda) Yeah see how that smoothed it out with the dry brush. I’m just going to draw some guide lines. (Linda) I don’t do a lot of drawing, I actually prefer just to paint straight onto my canvas, (Linda) but for this I’m going to use my photo and just do an outline. (Linda) A good way to draw quite accurately is to actually put your pencil over the photograph, (Linda) so you get a feel for the curve. (Linda) Okay, so once that stage is done now I’m just going to under paint it, (Linda) just to block out some of this blue where the edges of the cliffs are going to be. (Graeme) And it’s just like a Titanium White of some sort is it? (Linda) Yeah, it’s just Titanium White. (Linda) So whenever I’m painting, whatever stage I’m at in my painting, (Linda) I always try and get my brush strokes to follow the structure that I’m painting. (Linda) So all I’m doing now is just getting back to a really nice white sub straight, (Linda) because I’m going to paint like a watercolor from light to dark, (Linda) using transparent glazes over the top of this. o use this impasto medium from Matisse. This is a great product because it’s really flexible. (Graeme) Okay. They make a number of products that have got you know, various, you’ve got various powders and different stones and rocks and sands. It’s quite fascinating. (Linda) So if I had the blue underneath, and then I put gold over the top of blue, I’d end up with grey. (Graeme) Sure. (Linda) So I need to get it back to white. Okay, (Linda) so I think that’s ready for us to put the impasto over the top now. (Graeme) Oh okay. (Linda) Right we’ll just get this stuff out of the way. (Linda) And we get onto the exciting stuff using the impasto and one of the dry mediums. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Linda) Okay so now I’m going to start creating the structure Graeme. (Linda) And I’m going to use this impasto medium from Matisse. (Linda) This is a great product because it’s really flexible. (Graeme) Okay. (Graeme) They make a number of products that have got you know, various, (Graeme) you’ve got ferrous powders and different stones and rocks and sands. It’s quite fascinating. (Linda) Yeah, so what I’m going to use is the Matisse dry mediums range. (Linda) And the great thing about the dry medium range is a lot of it is Australian minerals, (Linda) so you can incorporate that, you know it makes it extra Australian ( Graeme) That’s really cool. (Linda) which I love. (Linda) And the other good thing about the dry mediums is it gives you a complete control over the products, (Linda) so you mix it into whatever medium you like. (Graeme) Oh okay. (Linda) So you can add it to the paint, (Linda) you can add it to, like I’m going to do with impasto. You can put it on the top to create a bit of interest. (Linda) So today I’m going to be using Geraldton Crushed Garnet. (Graeme) So that’s fascinating. (Graeme) So this is minerals from obviously Geraldton, (Graeme) and they must obviously heat treat these to get rid of bacteria and something or other do they? (Linda) That’s right. (Linda) So originally when I developed this idea I thought I’d use the sands from Central Australia. (Linda) There’s a whole lot of reasons that you shouldn’t use those, (Linda) but one of the other reasons is because of the bacterial content. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) So this is sterile, you know it’s not going to introduce anything into your painting that could compromise it later on. (Linda) And I’m also going to be using in this Weeper Calcite Bauxite which has a really lovely tricolour texture. (Linda) I’ll mix it in with the impasto medium. (Linda) Okay, I’m using a big palette knife now, (Linda) and I’m just going to add a little bit of that medium to it. (Linda) It creates this really nice chunky texture. (Linda) So now I’m going to find my photo and start creating the structure. (Linda) So see as I drag that palette knife across, (Linda) it picks up those little stones and creates those nice little textures in the rock. (Graeme) And once that medium’s dry they’re fixed in there for good. (Linda) Once that medium’s dry they’re set in there for good. (Graeme) Yep. ( Linda) This is one part of the painting that I’ll actually spend a fair amount of time on, (Linda) because I want to create the structure that the paint is going to run along. (Graeme) Yeah. From here we, what do we go to the floor do we? (Linda) Yes, (Linda) so from here I’m going to lie this down and sprinkle the Crushed Garnet over the top so it created the little dints and pockets in the rocks using the impasto. (Linda) I’ve added the Weeper Bauxite and then the final texturing is going to be with the Crushed Garnet (Graeme) Okay (Linda) Okay, so now I’m just going to create a bit of a tool (Linda) to help me sprinkle some of this Crushed Garnet. (Graeme) And this is obviously done when it’s wet of course so it stays in there? (Linda) That’s right Graeme and it’s going to stick into the impasto. (Graeme) There you go; look at that. And you’re really creating the ridges with the Crushed Garnet as well. (Linda) That’s right. I’m trying to get that pattern. (Graeme) Oh look at that. (Linda) And you can see how it’s starting to create that 3D effect now. (Linda) And the good thing about using these mediums is when I’ve finished this work, and you see when it’s exhibited in the galleries, you see people come along and they’re itching to touch them, and see is that, you know did she actually paint it like that? Is it real? (Graeme) And you obviously don’t mind people dong that either? (Linda) No. I actually put a sign up when I’m exhibiting: Please feel free to touch the artwork. And that’s left to dry, and I’m just going to give it a coat of gesso over the top. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) And we can move onto the next stage. (Graeme) Sounds fantastic…(Graeme) Okay you’ve given that a nice coat of white to obviously cover up all the impasto, and the rocks that you had there. What do we do now? (Linda) Okay so now I’m going to do a tonal underpainting in gold, Rose Gold and copper, and then I’m going to glaze over the top of it. So I’m going to just start going over these textures (Graeme) And these are the metallic colors? (Linda) with the metallic. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) And then I’m going to put red over the top of it and it’s going to make an orange that glows. Where it’s darker I’m going to use a little bit of copper. (Graeme) So tell me a bit more about Uluru and working out there as a residential artist, and then being with the aboriginal community in the landscape of Australia? (Linda) is when I’ve finished this work, and you see when it’s exhibited in the galleries, (Linda) you see people come along and they’re itching to touch them, (Linda) and see is that, you know did she actually paint it like that? Is it real? (Graeme) And you obviously don’t mind people dong that either? (Linda) No. (Linda) I actually put a sign up when I’m exhibiting: Please feel free to touch the artwork. (Linda) And that’s left to dry, and I’m just going to give it a coat of gesso over the top. (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) And we can move onto the next stage. (Graeme) Sounds fantastic… (Graeme) Okay you’ve given that a nice coat of white to obviously cover up all the impasto, and the rocks that you had there. (Graeme) What do we do now? (Linda) Okay so now I’m going to do a tonal underpainting in gold, (Linda) Rose Gold and copper, and then I’m going to glaze over the top of it. (Linda) So I’m going to just start going over these textures (Graeme) And these are the metallic colors? (Linda) with the metallic. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) And then I’m going to put (Linda) red over the top of it and it’s going to make an orange that glows. (Linda) Where it’s darker I’m going to use a little bit of copper. (Graeme) So tell me a bit more about Uluru and working out there as a residential artist, (Graeme) and then being with the aboriginal community in the landscape of Australia? (Linda) Working at Uluru has been fantastic for me. (Linda) The great thing about the residency program is when I go there, (Linda) you actually get to immerse yourself in the landscape and culture, work with the people. (Linda) And you experience the landscape and then you come into the studio and paint it. (Linda) So it gives this all round connectedness to the landscape and the people. (Graeme) And you’ve been doing the Uluru contract for about five years now. (Linda) Yeah I’m going up every year for about five years, (Graeme (Yeah. (Linda) and stay a month at a time. And then I work every day while I’m up there. (Linda) And then I’ve also been privileged enough to go out and work on some of the indigenous communities, (Linda) with some of the indigenous people that live at Uluru. (Graeme) And I think that you’ve probably also met a real diversity of cultures, (Graeme) from people all over the world coming in to see your work, but not only to come and see Kata Tjuta as well. (Linda) Oh yeah that’s one of the best things Graeme about working there. (Linda) You get to meet people from all over the world, so when you sell work it goes everywhere. (Linda) And you get feedback from people about all different kinds of art. (Linda) But people who come really relate to the color that I use, and you know, (Linda) it provokes in them a sort of emotional response, (Linda) to the response they have when they first see Uluru and Kata Tjuta. (Linda) It’s an amazing red color; it’s amazing big rocks. (Linda) I’m going to use a transparent glaze of reds and oranges over the top of this metallic painting. (Linda) So if I add the orange to this acrylic painting medium, (Linda) you can see it seems a little bit milky, but it’s going to dry totally transparent. (Linda) Now the best glow that I use is either Cadmium Red, (Linda) or Alizarin Crimson, (Linda) mixed with together with a little bit of the acrylic painting medium. (Linda) And when I put that over the gold it’ll dry to really transparent, glowing orange. (Linda) I want it to dribble (Linda) and the reason I’m using the acrylic painting medium, (Linda) is because it’s a thin viscosity binder (Linda) that glues the paint to the canvas. (Linda) So this is Cadmium Orange that I’m using (Linda) a really transparent glaze – very, very watery. (Linda) So the aim is leave a little bit of that metallic shining through, (Linda) but not to much of it. (Linda) So this is very similar to glazing that you would use in watercolor. (Graeme) Its definitely got that watercolor technique to it doesn’t it? (Linda) It does. This is running beautifully here. (Linda) I’m going to add in some blues and some turquoise. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) And I’m using a little bit thicker paint here, (Linda) and you can see how it’s starting to run over that structure that I’ve created. (Linda) So when you mix blue and orange together, (Linda) you end up with a kind of grey color. (Linda) So rather than mixing them on the palette, I’m putting them directly onto the canvas (Linda) and I’m allowing the colors to mix as it goes. I’m not trying to paint a realist painting. (Linda) What I’m trying to do is capture people’s emotive response to the landscape. (Linda) And each layer that I’m putting on here is adding to the three dimensional effect, (Linda) creating the illusion that the gorge is rounded. (Linda) To create a glaze I’m going to add some acrylic painting medium. (Graeme) And you’re just using wax paper? (Linda) This is baking paper. (Graeme) Baking paper is it? (Linda) Which is fantastic, I use it the whole time. (Linda) So what I want is a transparent glaze over the top, (Linda) and I want it to stick to the painting. (Linda) And lets get glazing , so a bit like a watercolour. (Linda) And what I’m going to do is basically just run, and put my brush there. (Linda) And because I’ve already created this structure, (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) the paint will run and follow the little patterns I’ve created underneath: the textures. (Graeme) Fascinating process. (Linda) So much fun. (Graeme) Yeah, (Graeme) and I can see obviously with the residency that you had out at Uluru, the reason they keep asking you to come back, (Graeme) is that your so good at entertaining people with these methods as well. (Linda) Oh yeah, people love to see it. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) They don’t always understand where I’m going with my work, (Linda) until they see the finished product. (Graeme) Makes sense in the end. (Lynda) But it makes sense in the end. (Linda) So what I’m doing now is just putting in these darker tones (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) and letting it run. (Linda) I think one of the most important things about art is just, (Linda) it really is just play and having fun. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) Okay so I might put a little bit of this aqua in there. (Linda) You can see I’m using thicker paints in some areas. (Linda) And then using my bottle with the acrylic painting medium in, (Linda) sometimes I can just run a bit across. (Graeme) Oh yeah, god. (Linda) That’s pretty amazing. (Linda) And then that dilutes it further, (Linda) the thicker parts then sort of then bleed out more so. (Graeme) Yes, yes. (Linda) It’s quite an exciting process. (Graeme) It’s a fascinating effect, it really is. (Linda) So I’m not just doing this randomly, (Linda) I am actually looking at my reference photo and following a plan. (Linda) And these colors look fairly florescent at the moment, (Linda) but when they dry they do dull down a bit, (Linda) because they’re mixing with the orange that’s underneath. (Graeme) So where would you say is the probably most picturesque place that you’ve been too? (Linda) Oh I’m really bias, having lived in W A (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) the Pilbara is my favourite. It’s a definite on your bucket list kind of place to go. (Graeme) Is that right. (Linda) One of the things about the Pilbara is that it actually pre dates fossil history, (Linda) so some of the oldest rocks in Australia. (Graeme) Goes way back. (Linda) Just like Uluru is as well. (Graeme) Yeah. (Graeme) Yeah we do. The Greenland in Australia actually have the oldest rocks in the world . (Linda) Yeah. I love rocks. (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) Hence all the rock paintings. (Linda) Okay I think I’m going to leave this at this, (Graeme) Okay. (Linda) and let it dry because (Graeme) Yeah. (Linda) now it’s way too wet, (Linda) and then I’ll look later and see how it’s going continuity wise. (Graeme) Alright, we’ll let that dry and come back later on. (Linda) Yep. (Graeme) Okay… (Linda) So you can see that this has dried darker. That’s just the way the paint dries, (Linda) the mixture of the orange and the aqua has muted back to form more of a brown color. (Linda) So the next thing I’m going to do is under paint the water, (Linda) using the same color that I’ve used in the cliff face already. (Linda) And you can see the effect is very similar to watercolor. (Linda) Okay so now it’s time to paint in the foliage so I need a different palette. (Linda) The palettes that I use are these plastic containers. (Linda) You can see that I’ve got a wet towel in the bottom of it, (Linda) and then a piece of glad bake. (Linda) And the beauty of these palettes is, when I’m finished using them, (Linda) I just pop the lid on them and they’ll stay afresh. (Linda) That paint won’t dry out and I can leave that in there for up to a month, (Linda) even when I’m painting in outback Australia. So I’m going to start by using a dark color to block in my foliage. (Linda) And I’m just going to paint this really rough, (Linda) really loose, because I’m just really blocking in a color. (Linda) The main thing is just getting these darks into place, and the same here. (Linda) You can see that the brush is starting to create the effects of those grasses without me having to do much. (Linda) Okay the next thing that I’m going to do is come in with the sponge and start putting the highlights in over the top. (Graeme) And obviously still trying to form the light and the shade that you’d see on a bush, (Graeme) because of the light in there, in the valley there. (Linda) That’s right Graeme. li Under painting the reeds I’m using lot’s of different colors. (Graeme) And it really does give the impression of spinifex or triodia grass. (Linda) Yeah it’s quite amazing isn’t it? Okay, there’s a really strong value on the edge of this water. (Linda) So I’m going to go over the orange…. (Graeme) Alright: the Professor of Paint. (Linda) Thank you Graeme. (Graeme) Linda MacAulay, thanks so much for having us in your studio. (Graeme) A wonderful piece of work and as I said, (Graeme) you can see the reflections going through when the light changes on these paintings in the afternoons, (Graeme) in the mornings, absolutely fabulous. They really do change mood don’t they? (Linda) Yeah, just like the sunrise and sunset over Kata Tjuta. (Graeme) It’s fantastic stuff. (Graeme) Now also you have Open Studios throughout the whole of this area don’t you? (Linda) Yes, so anyone who wants to come and visit me, can come and visit me in my studio. (Linda) And then there’s thirty four other fantastic studio’s open every May and November in the Shire of Nillumbik. (Graeme) Fantastic stuff. Also your website as well? (Linda) Yes, lindamacaulay.co.au (Graeme) So if anyone wants to know about the Open Studios or even to come and see, it’s okay if people drop in and see you anyway isn’t it? (Linda) That’s right. (Graeme) Also obviously colourinyourlife.com.au . (Graeme) Come in and have a look at what we’re doing. Facebook page: Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) We’ve always got some great people and there’s thousands and thousands of people in there these days doing what they’re doing. (Graeme) Ah we’re going to head off again. Fantastic day. (Linda) Thank you Graeme; its been a pleasure. (Graeme) It’s been wonderful. Absolutely. And always guys, remember, (Graeme) make sure you put some color in your life. We’ll see you next time. (Graeme) Bye guys, bye.

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