Monday, April 30, 2007

Top Tips for Acrylic Painting – Number 8

Acrylic paints are very versatile. You can use them both in thin coats of colour or thickly depending on the result you want.

Water Colour Effects

Thin coats of acrylic paint can be used to give a watercolour look to a picture. The thin layers of paint will have the transparent quality of watercolours.

A point to remember when painting using transparent coats is the white acrylic paint is an opaque colour. To paint a pale colour do not add white to make it pale, instead add water to thin the colour and apply thin layers of paint.

On a white background the white of the painting surface will show through the colour making it appear paler.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Useful Info about Mounts or Mats used in Picture Framing

This months post looks at mounts, or mats, used in picture framing.

When you are framing a painting or print it can look better if you add a mount to the painting before having it framed. This can make a small painting look larger and more important when hung.

The mount is the paper or card border around the picture. You would use a mount on a picture that is painted on paper or one of the thinner painting surfaces. If your picture was on a stretched canvas having it mounted would not be an option.

I’ll use the term mount throughout this newsletter rather than saying mount or mat the whole time, but you will know what I mean!

Cut Your Own?

There is a local craft and artist shop opening up in the town and I will be displaying some pictures for sale there. So I need to mount them for display.

I have a mount cutter and sometimes cut my own mounts, but I find it all a bit of a chore. I bought the mount cutter about 15 years ago when it was unusual to see ready cut mounts for sale.

As I will need a few mounts I thought it would be easier to buy them ready cut. The ones that are available now are “cut on computerised mount cutters for quality and consistency”. That sounds really good. ;-)

Of course the mount needs to be on good quality heavy paper or thin card which is acid free.


The window cut in the middle of the mount for the picture is the aperture. This is normally made with a 45 degree angle cut for a better finish. This has 2 benefits. The sloping cut gives a lovely finish, and if you are using a coloured mount this cut edge shows the centre of the mount material (normally white) and gives a white line around the picture. This is a very pleasing look.

Of course you can always add lines on the surface of the mount to highlight the edge around the picture. Sometimes people paint a border on the mount to match the colours used in the painting.

Double Mount

Another favourite is the double mount where there are two mounts and the aperture of the top mount is a bit bigger than the bottom mount.

Often the bottom mount is in a dark colour and the top one in a pale colour.
So when you look at the painting there is the picture, and then around the picture is the white of the cut edge, next the surface of the dark mount, the cut edge of the top mount (white line) and finally the top pale mount.

This style of mounting gives a double edge which highlights the painting and can really enhance the final look of the picture. I like this style of mounting a picture.

Of course this is then framed with a glass fronted frame to keep it clean.

Landscape or Portrait

Landscape or portrait refers to the layout of the picture. If it is wider (than tall) than it is in the landscape format and if the picture is taller (than wide) it is in the portrait format.

A standard framing technique says to cut the bottom side of the mount a bit wider than the other three sides. This is makes the final framing look better. It has to do with the way our eyes see things. By making the bottom section of the mount a little wider the final framed painting looks better. (I have heard this described as adding weight to the bottom.)

However, when buying ready cut mounts the aperture is placed in the centre so that the mount can be used for both landscape and portrait layouts.

This is not a major problem but one to bear in mind when deciding whether to buy a ready made frame and mount for displaying your paintings and doing it yourself, or if you want to pay and have it professionally framed.

Is this a problem?

Not really.

I think that this would be important on larger pictures where the mount would have quite a big area, and so it would be more noticeable.

The other time this would cause a problem would be if you wanted to use a very wide mount. (I am sure you have seen small paintings with mounts bigger than the picture itself.)

Otherwise I think that ready cut mounts will work fine. If your picture is A4 size or smaller using a ready cut mount should be alright.

Traditional or Abstracts

Although framing using a mount is normally seen on traditional pictures it can also enhance abstract artwork too.

Abstract art often works best with stronger colours for the mount. A black mount on a vibrant painting can be very effective.

I recently saw an abstract picture with a black mount and a metallic strip added to the mount to match the metallic paints used in the picture. Stunning.

I hope you find this useful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Black Canvas Project - Paint Something Different!

This is a good idea for the times when you want to try to paint something a bit different. The final result can be stunning.

Instead of starting with a white background why not try a black one?

Although I call this the Black Canvas Project it does not need to be a canvas! It works just the same on any painting surface, like paper or canvas panel.

What to do

This is really easy; just paint the whole of the painting surface with black acrylic paint. OK, I know this can look a bit drastic to start with but it really is an interesting option when starting a painting.

What then?

Usually you need to paint in the middle tones, shadows and then highlight the objects in your painting; however with this technique you already have all the shadows in. In this case you are picking out just the middle tones and highlights.

You may need to apply the paint a bit more thickly than normal, depending on your painting style.

This is useful when painting sunrise/sunset type pictures that have a lot of shadow. It is great for stormy pictures too.

Abstracts too

This technique works well with abstract style paintings too. It is especially effective when you want to include some metallic paints. The dark background shows up the metallic colours and makes them more vibrant.

What about adding an acrylic medium?

If you have one of the acrylic mediums that give a metallic effect to the paints you will be able to make a range of metallic colours. I have an Interferance Medium in Gold that works really well.

For a more subtle look you could try the Pearlescent Tinting Medium, which is my favourite of the moment.

When you use a medium you still get the colour but with a metallic effect. The metallic colours, like gold and silver, just look like metal. Your choice will depend on the result you want to achieve.

Next time you fancy trying to paint something a bit different look out the black paint!