Applying Paint to a Textured Surface for Abstract Acrylic Painting
Creating a Textured Base
If you have read my previous article on creating your own homemade texture then you will have already started to create your textured paste to use in this painting style. If not, then check out that article to make some really thick texture!
Once you have mixed up your texture (or you could use gesso but I find this is not thick enough for the texture base that I want to create), apply it with a spatula, trowel, cake slice, or whatever else you can get hold of.
You don't have to apply it to the whole canvas but can just add it to certain parts if you want to.
Make marks and patterns in the texture with either homemade items (e.g. cardboard cut into spikes), or items bought from hardware or homeware shops like a grout spreader. You can also scrape parts of the texture off so that the canvas appears through in patterns.
Try to make the patterns random and think about the rule of thirds or the golden mean for places to put strategic large pieces of interesting texture. Try not to put things right in the middle of the canvas.
The texture should be left to dry for 24 hours or longer if heavy or thick texture is used.
Ways to Apply the Acrylic Paint
Once the texture is dry, the key I think to a good abstract textured painting is to apply many layers of paint. There are a number of methods of applying acrylic painting and some of them are as follows:
- I always apply a first layer of slightly watered down cream or white paint to the textured canvas to cover everything evenly and give a base coat to start working on. Make sure this layer is dry before starting anything else and make sure you get into all the cracks and crevices.
- The second layer I apply is a layer of very watery acrylic paint (practically only coloured water). I will apply a dark colour that will go with my planned colour scheme (or burnt umber that will go with everything). When this layer is still wet, use a wet sponge to gently take off some of the paint that is covering the higher parts of the texture so that that you have some white peaks showing.
After the 2nd layer is dry I will start with some more layers and continue until I think I have done enough. Only you can decide when this is and this may be 3 or even up to 10 layers of paint in different thicknesses. I apply the paint as follows but not necessarily in this order:
- A layer of blended paint applied neat onto the canvas with different colour blended into each other
- A layer of very watered down paint that will again get into the cracks and crevices
- Apply paint straight from the tube with a dry brush. Dry-brushing is a good way to just cover the tops of the texture and allow the paint underneath to show through. you should really have very little paint on the brush
- Apply paint straight out of the tube with a roller. This should also only get the top levels of the texture.
- You can also apply paint to another surface e.g. some material or paper, and then place this onto the painting so that only parts of it reproduce on the painting.
Keep alternating with applying the paint in different ways - sometimes when the paint is still wet I will apply a damp sponge to take off some of the excess. You can also use sandpaper in a similar manner to get back to the base coat but only use it lightly.
Finally I will apply a wash of burnt umber to finish the whole painting off - very watery and sponge some of it off at the same time as applying it.
I will then varnish the painting with a heavy gloss to bring out the colours.