abstract art, art classes, Artist Tips, beginner acrylic artist

How to Create the Illusion of 3D on a 2D Surface

Oftentimes I think I am finished with a painting, when in fact, I am not. I thought I had finished the painting labeled Stage 1, above. about a week ago. A couple days later, I looked at it in my studio and just felt it wasn’t finished. Sometimes it’s just an intuitive feeling I get when I look at a piece and realize it’s not done. It just seemed so flat to me. I liked most everything about it except the flatness.

I am still working on the painting above and I’m adding a 3D feel to it by adding cubes and organic spheres. I’m not sure how many stages it will go through, but it seems as though it is definitely adding more depth to the painting.

Of course this isn’t the only way to add depth to a piece of work. I have a whole video lesson devoted to creating depth in abstract paintings in my online abstract painting class for beginners, “Relax + Paint.” The first session begins October 30th. This class will be a blast so join if you can. Learn more and enroll now by going to relax-paint.com.

Did you know you need just 3 colors to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional shape on a 2 dimensional surface? Yep, that’s right. For example, let’s discuss a cube. The easiest way to create a cube is to take a color and paint a square. Then create the shadow side with a shade (add black) of the color. Finally, create the side where your light source is coming from with a tint (add white) of the color. You can see two cubes in my painting above on the left side in the black area. I have enlarged one of them below.

Cube from Stage 2 of my painting

I am taking this painting to our “4 Artist Friends” paint session tomorrow to work on it some more. All four of us are painters and we try to meet every two weeks. Tomorrow is a paint session.

I might call this painting “Potato in Space” because I see a potato in the top right. 🙂

Artist Tips, beginner acrylic artist

Can I mix different brands of acrylic paint?

All the choices in an art store can be so overwhelming and can leave you with more questions than when you first went in. Should I paint on paper, canvas, or wood? What kind of easel is the best? Do I need synthetic or natural hair brushes? Then you walk down the paint section, and not only are the colors endless, but it also seems the brands are endless, which is why I always stress using a limited palette and mixing your colors. See my previous post on limited palettes.

Let’s say you have some Liquitex ultramarine blue at home, but you’re really liking Grumbacher’s ultramarine blue, plus it’s on sale. Can you mix these? Yes. But even if they’re different brands of acrylic paint? Yes! In general, you can mix any brand of acrylic paint with any other brand of acrylic paint. There are also heavy bodied acrylics, fluid acrylics, high flow acrylics, and others, and you can mix all of them regardless of brand, color, and viscosity. One exception is that you might not want to mix open acrylics (which can be reworked with water after they have already dried) with other acrylics, because then the open acrylics might lose their properties. Just know, too, that if you mix two different paints with different viscosities, the thickness of your mixed color will be different.

The most important thing to mention here is that the same colors in different brands are not created equal. For example, turquoise in one brand might be brighter than another brand of turquoise. The biggest difference I’ve seen is with burnt sienna. Burnt sienna is much darker in the Master’s Touch brand than it is in Liquitex or Winsor & Newton. Just be mindful that when you mix the same color in different brands, you might get varied results. Despite this, you can still mix different brands and colors.

I can remember when I first started painting, I had all kinds of questions, many of which might be similar to your questions. I’m trying to get into my beginner mindset again, and answer those potential questions you might have. Over the next few months, watch out for my beginner artist posts.

Cheers,
Lori

P.S. If you liked this post, you might like my class that is coming up at the beginning of 2021 called Relax + Paint. Registration begins December 1st. You can sign up to be on my mailing list for the class, too, to receive news about it.