Experiments in acrylic

In the past I have tried painting in acrylic, but never enjoyed it. I like the luscious quality of oil paint, the fact that you can blend and work it as long as you need to without the paint drying, and that colours don’t change between the initial marks and the final dry painting. However, I was lucky enough to win The Picture House Gallery Art Prize last year (see here for the work, which will be included in my upcoming show) and the prize was a pack of acrylic paints (along with brushes, palette knives, mediums and more), so decided I needed to try them out.

Clearly the quality has improved since I last used acrylic paint – the colours remain true from beginning to end, and once I added a drop of Open Medium, the paint stayed wet long enough for me to blend in a way that was closer to oils. I still have a lot to learn, but enjoyed experimenting – clean-up was quick and easy and much less odour as well. I won’t abandon my oils, but I have now become a convert to acrylics!

These paintings were done on small blocks of mdf, or medium density fibreboard to give it its full name. They were thoroughly sealed with several coats of gesso, sanded to a smooth finish, and then the sides and back have been painted black. The boards were given me by a friend who was having a tidy out, so I gladly accepted them. I thought they were all the same size, 15 x 15cm, but realised after I had painted some of them that half were 15 x 14cm! But that hasn’t mattered. The imagery is inspired by small collages I make from random photos of plants. The final paintings are generally quite far removed from the original images. My plan was to have these as individual paintings for sale at my upcoming exhibition, but when I pushed them together to take a photo I realised how strong they looked as a whole. So, I will offer the option of the individual panels being sold, but my preference is for someone to buy the set.

The exhibition is a two person show, with a friend I exhibited with two years ago, in a small gallery in Woolloomooloo, near the docks in Sydney. Sue paints mainly landscapes and seascapes, and I will be exhibiting my recent drawings, both the abstract ones and the more realistic ones in coloured pencil, and we will be showing a set of concertina books that we have collaborated on. Later on I will do a post of the concertinas. To see the drawings, go back through my posts of the last year or so.

Below are the individual panels.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

10 thoughts

  1. Hello Anna ๐Ÿ™‚
    Some abstracts one just thinks hmm lol but I found myself lingering over these ๐Ÿ™‚ … They really do make such a strong panel collectively I will keep my finger’s firmly x’d for your forthcoming exhibition ! The acrylic colours pop and it’s interesting to hear how you view them compared to working with oils. I so admire how you are open to experimentation ๐Ÿ˜‰ Poppy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Poppy – I do enjoy experimenting, but they don’t always come good! I am happy with these though, and felt a little bereft when I used the last panel – more will be very easy to come by though, so this is not the end. Yesterday I started a small canvas, not sure how it is going so far but I will persist … xx


    1. Thank you so much Nancy – I love the idea of being inside these, and I can absolutely see what you are saying. I hung the exhibition today and am really happy with it, and yes, I do hope the panels get a home all together!


  2. Thanks for giving me the heads-up about this post. These acrylics are honestly delicious enough to eat. A word which comes to mind is ‘succulent’. I am reminded of your pendants as I view these – but they were oil weren’t they. I’m interested to learn that acrylics’ formula has improved and that there is a thing called open medium which means the paint can remain workable for some time. They do look fabulous all together (first image) but also just as appealing separated (second image). Because of the bright colours I could imagine these (if one thinks of deliciousness) as fruity sweets.
    Thanks for your wonderful letter! By the way, Alicia is HERE. Two whole weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started these with no expectations at all, which is maybe a good way to begin sometimes! The quality of the paints really does seem to have improved over time, and as you say, with the open medium I can treat them a bit more like oil. It’s still not the same, but it gives me options, and the colours are wonderfully rich. There is some finishing to do, varnishing and a decision whether I frame the whole block, or return to the original idea of individuals. I will sit with it for a while!

      I’m delighted Alicia has arrived! How exciting! I do hope she didn’t get caught up in the mayhem at the airport, but it could all be worth it anyway for her to be back with you again for a while.


      1. I wouldn’t know which way to frame them either but the good thing is there is no wrong answer.
        I forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on your exhibition. It is quite something to have a successful exhibition during diabolical weather AND covid. Wonderful when the human spirit shines through (both yours and the visitors’).
        Also – Alicia came on Monday night and there were no airport problems at all. The weekend at Sydney airport looked diabolical on the news though.

        Liked by 1 person

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