The Devil is in the Details

I have finally finished my first “realistic” acrylic painting, although I use that word rather advisedly. Realism in acrylics has proved to be a bit of a challenge, especially when it comes down to the details.

Acrylic Paint - Acrylics on Canvas 9 x 12
Acrylic Paint – Acrylics on Canvas 9 x 12

I did all right on the shape of the tube, but all that detailed lettering proved to be a bit more than I could handle. This painting is part of the Acrylic Paint Academy course at The Virtual Instructor. A reference photo is provided in the lesson. Unfortunately I couldn’t make out all the “fine print” from the photo, so I did my best and improvised.

I started this painting a couple weeks ago and worked on it very slowly. I did the background and the shape of the paint tube, then painted the colors, and added a slight bit of cast shadow. For the second stage, I worked on the cap and the “shiny” metal areas of the tube. Mine don’t look quite so shiny.

Finally, it came time to face up to the lettering. It was easier than I’d expected in some respects, but much more difficult than I’d imagined in others.Β  Matt Fussell, the virtual instructor, commented in the lesson that students oftenΒ want to give up or just leave off most of the text. Was he ever right! I was sorely tempted to omit a lot of it, especially since I couldn’t read it clearly in the reference photo. But I’d come this far with the drawing, and I wanted it to be over. Not because I’d given up on it, but because I had finished it.

So, I stuck it out, did my best, and hopefully I created “the illusion” of text. I don’t think I’ll ever be an artist who does highly-detailed work. I am glad that this painting is done and I can now move on in the course and learn more about acrylics and how to properly use them.

59 Comments

    1. Thank you. I’m learning. Right now watercolor is still a favorite but that’s probably because I’ve got more experience in it..LOL. All of what…3 or 4 months? Acrylics are still a little more challenging for me, but I’ll be doing more paintings.

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      1. I still have no desire to paint other than abstract in acrylic. I see it as my “fun” medium, not trying or aiming for anything other than beautiful color combos but you may inspire me if you keep on this track! I was wowed when this popped up in my reader!

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      2. So glad I could “wow” you for once. πŸ™‚ I do have a couple of abstracts coming up in posts soon, but I’m not happy with them. I think I’m tending to lean more toward realism in my painting. Not overly-detailed, but more representational. I think that’s part of my goal for this year’s journey…figuring out more precisely what I want to paint and working to understand and develop more of my own style. I’m really doing a lot of experimenting right now as you’ll see with the posts coming up this week and next.

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      3. Yeah, I understand. Until Penny got really sick, the last thing on my mind was abstract anything. It just wasn’t on my radar. But oddly, I found Debora Stewart on Artist Network TV, I watched her lesson about color, got her book from the library, all during the time Penny had to be stayed with because she was so ill…….then started painting my feelings in abstract. Enjoyed it so much that I’ve not looked back. Who knew? I think as you say, it’s only through trying and discovering and seeing what clicks with us that we learn what we’re meant to do. I love drawing realistically, it jazzes the heck outta me, but I do not like my realistic paintings, ever. Closest I come to liking them is with neocolor and again we have something with a point. I’m happy with my realistic drawings (now after drawing almost daily for a year), but not my paintings. Ever.

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      4. I think there’s a “happy medium” — no pun intended — between realism and looseness in painting styles. For me, art seems to be a lot about connecting with emotions. The mood of a painting is what always catches my eye when I look at art. Color plays a huge part in that, obviously, probably more than subject. It’s interesting, really, to consider what I like and dislike in paintings I see and to compare that with what I like and dislike in my own paintings. Up until now, most of what I’ve done — nearly all, in fact — has been an “assignment”, a subject chosen by someone else. It’s hard to feel expressive when there’s no real connection to what you’re drawing or painting, no underlying reason why I’m compelled to paint that particular place or person. I’m starting to choose things on my own — my daughter, the van, my stuffed animals — and that makes a huge difference. I think abstract art offers the chance to work more directly with thoughts and feelings without limitation. I’m not yet at the point where I’m ready to fly without those boundaries, so I think that’s why I’m still more comfortable staying a little closer to reality. My experience is almost the exact opposite of yours. Except for the first “Demon Green” abstract (watercolor), I haven’t really liked my abstractions. Oh, the purple and yellow flowery-looking painting was all right. I liked it at first, but I soon grew tired of looking at it. So even though I love abstract art, I’m just not happy with my attempts. That might change in time. I don’t know, and that’s what makes the future so exciting.

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      5. It is a fun way to discover yourself and the world, isn’t it? I did a few tutorials from books and a video or two when I was learning WC but I had the hardest time finding something I connected with enough to want to paint it. Doing an “assignment” squashes my mojo immediately, to the point I don’t even get out of the gate, so I do understand what you’re talking about. I’m a very emotional person, to the point that I wish I weren’t. I can’t seem to help my emotions from getting into my paintings. It’s good for me, because I keep too much inside. But I think anytime your emotions are strong, it is good if you’re painting, drawing or writing. Makes the work have lots of impact. But as to practical life? Yeah, not so good, and I’d change it if I could. Art is really helping me understand myself more than living to almost 50 ever has!

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      6. Art is an incredible form of self-expression, and we definitely learn a lot about ourselves through what we draw and paint. Strong emotions do add impact, and I’m looking forward to creating more things I “want” rather than strictly following assignments. At the same time, though, it is still helpful for me to have the guidance a tutorial provides. I’m at a point where it’s really hard for me to assess my drawings and paintings, so having something as a “guide” is important. I need to see what I’m doing wrong. Of course, that’s still relating back to representational art. For now, I do think that’s where I’m most comfortable. I’m going to be doing a lot of abstracts in the coming year though, and hopefully my compositional skills will improve.

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      7. Thanks. It’s going to be a sea-faring voyage over the next year…LOL. I’m reading Treasure Island — again — and I wrote a post earlier today about my artistic journey, and it somehow turned into “sailing off” to find the gold of our dreams. Welcome aboard, matey! And yeah, you’ll be seeing ocean scenes and even a pirate coming up. I just finished painting “Pirate Cove” this morning. πŸ™‚

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      1. Thanks. I wish I could have seen the text better in the photo. I actually did go to the W & N website to get a closer look at their logo. I couldn’t copy it exactly, but I tried for “the illusion” again.

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      2. Exactly. That’s what I kept reminding myself as I finished the lettering. I just had to create an illusion, not copy the text in perfect detail. Remembering that helped me a lot.

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      3. Lol. My knew exactly who you were talking about. No, I don’t watch it anymore. It was always raunchy, but then it got worse! I can’t say it didn’t make me laugh though. Such hidden cleverness in the themes and dialogue on that cartoon.

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      4. It’s actually considered one of the most intellectual shows on television. There have been a lot of very serious books written on the subject of South Park. I do think some of the earlier seasons were better, but there have been some really good episodes in the last few years, too. I don’t watch it as often as I used to, but we have a lot recorded on the DVR, so if we’re “in that mood” — no, not “that” one — the comedy mood, I guess I should say, we’ll pick out a favorite South Park to watch.

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      5. So many shows deal with contemporary social issues…but the creators don’t take a point of view. They present different perspectives so it’s left to the viewer to figure out where they stand. I like that.

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      6. Yup. I would agree with that also. If you point something out clearly to folks sometimes, they don’t want to listen…so better to make them have to think.

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    1. I didn’t choose the subject, of course. It was part of the course at The Virtual Instructor. I did think it was rather appropriate for my first realistic acrylic painting, and you’re right, it is a wonderful metaphor. Thanks for pointing that out.

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    1. Thanks. I thought I’d ruined the lid. It looked good the first time I painted it, but it got a little misshapen when I tried to add a bit of shading. Of course, the more I fooled with it, the worse it got 😦

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      1. Yes, it takes time. I was working on a painting this morning…it was a mess. I said to myself, “Oh, well. I just can’t do that yet.” I was actually very happy when I heard myself say that. A year ago the words would have been “I just can’t do that.” At least I’ve come to recognize that I can — and will — get better with practice. That was an important realization for me!

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      2. Yey so happy for you! I realized that last year. Then a fine arts friend of my husband told me to continue my art and believe that I will get to where I want to with constant practice. She also told me that what she can draw in 15 mins I can also do in about 1.5-3 hours. Not bad isn’t it?

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  1. Great work, i think you nailed this very well. Regarding details of print on the tube, you probably would have gotten away writing gobbledygook, as long as it started with a G, the eye will complete the rest, and often eyes “like having something to complete”, it leaves one looking a bit longer at the painting. Hope to see more of your acrylics! “Dig one well”?

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