Texture and Pattern in Acrylic

In November 2012 I did a demo using acrylic for the Texas Area Artists, an art association in Mesquite. The president is Judy Emig, an old art friend of mine. The group meets on the first Sunday afternoon of the month at 2 p.m. in the wonderful Mesquite Arts Center.

photo by Mary-Charles Strickland

The demo featured acrylic on a textured surface with stamping and stenciling for even more texture. For the grounds on illustration board, I used light modeling paste. I applied the modeling paste over a stencil with a paint scraper and pulled the stencil off, leaving a swirly pattern. I also applied the paste with the scraper to drag abstract texture over the whole piece. Other ideas for texture that I have used: gesso over cut and torn paper or over used laundry sheets. The paper can be newspaper (not acid-free), cardstock, crumpled rice paper or tissue paper — almost anything.

For the composition, I used one I had previously invented for the collage “Chit Chat.” It’s a primarily gestural drawing of four women. I used handmade stamps to add texture to the painting, made out of cut foam and eraser material. Also another stencil in a different pattern.

Regarding color, it was done mainly in complementary red and green, with blue for a contrast color, plus neutrals black, white and grey. To make things pop, I paid attention to value contrast, and to integrate the painting, carried the colors around the composition. Other contrasts: square shapes vs. curvilinear, small vs large, warm vs. cool. I didn’t finish completely even though I paint quickly, so I finished up at my studio at home.

photo by Mary-Charles Strickland

So I made a few changes major & minor — I gave the women faces, tightened up the drawing, and moved color more around the painting. Also pushed the figure on the right more into the background.

“Gossip” acrylic / watercolor crayon painting 16″x20″ on illustration board

Also demo’ed my new GelliArts gel printing plate — more about that wonderful new invention soon.

UPDATE August 2013:

The painting has evolved even more. In May I took it to one of the group critique sessions run by Maureen Brouillette. She and the other artists had several suggestions. They didn’t like the green dominance, so I pushed the blue. Now the blue-orange complementary vibration is more visible instead of orange-green. Also the hand of the striped figure was awkward, so I eliminated it by putting her arm behind her. They thought the figure on the edge was distracting, so I pushed it more into the background.


As mentioned before, the composition itself was based on my collage “Chit Chat”, so here is that artwork for comparison:


So which version do you like the best? I still have a preference for the collage “Chit Chat” since I’m really into pattern. It’s close to monochromatic though, and I really love the color vibrancy of the last version of “Gossip”. But texture is probably more important on a collage than color.

Should I have stopped at the first (faceless) version of “Gossip”, the second (orange-green) or is the third (orange-blue) the best?

Update March 2014: “Pattern of Gossip” has been accepted into the 2014 Society of Watercolor Artists International Exhibition. The orange-blue final version is vindicated!

A Signature Evening

Saturday, September 22nd was a very busy day! Not only did I teach my first workshop on painting watercolor on yupo, but I attended the Reception & Awards for the 49th Annual 2012 Southwestern Watercolor Society Members Exhibition. The reception was held in the spacious entry hall and gallery of pFAMILY Arts, a community arts facility in Plano. My husband Bob and friends Barbara, Sky, Emmy and Byron accompanied me.

That evening I received my Signature Membership in the Society. Signature status is awarded to those SWS members who have had five paintings juried into the annual SWS show (or in the annual Western Federation show). The honor allows me to place the letters SWS after my name when I sign my paintings, plus I have a sterling silver SWS pendant to wear. It only took me about seven years to achieve this, so I am celebrating!

The fifth and final painting that earned me the honor is “Evanescence”, which is on display through Oct. 19. It is an abstract acrylic painting on yupo that utilizes the alcohol technique for texturing. SWS accepts all forms of watermedia painting into their shows, including traditional watercolor, acrylic, gouache, casein, inks etc. Also collage is accepted, if it is artist-painted paper — my 2011 painting was acrylic collage. The support must be paper, but yupo (plastic paper) was added a few years as an option.

All in all, 2012 was a great watercolor year for me. In January I also earned my Signature in the Society of Watercolor Artists (SWA), a Fort-Worth group that is the sister organization to SWS. Both came from the split of the original North Texas Watercolor Society in 1963.

I’d like to convey my thanks and gratitude to the officers and volunteers (especially the exhibition committees) of both societies for all their efforts that have allowed me to exhibit my artwork and achieve these honors.