Monday, May 21, 2012

Question and Update

-By Eric Fortune

The reason I'm emailing you is because I've been recently trying out using thin washes of acrylics.  Before I would do most of my work using oils or digital.  I'm still experimenting with my art and seeing which media better suits me at this time and I keep dabbling with acrylics.  I know you've posted numerous videos and images of your process but I've always wondered whether you completely work your paintings from light to dark just like watercolor or do you sometimes add lights with perhaps more opaque paint?  I've attached a small sketch I did today.  I understand your process requires numerous layers of washes and this just at a playing-around-point, but I was curious to your thoughts. Thank you.

For the most part I am moving from light to dark in a traditional watercolor like technique.  However, I have become more comfortable painting in opaquely or semi-opaquely when necessary or more efficient.  For example, when there is rim lighting or perhaps the highlight of an eyeball.  I try not to paint large sections opaquely if possible.  If the entire piece is mostly transparent and one swatch is opaque it may not come off as cohesive.  I've considered working a little more opaquely in general just to experiment but I haven't really made time for that just yet.  If you're using acrylics in a thinner application be sure to not just add white to gain opacity.  If you do everything can become quite chalky looking.  Have your photo ref or color comp close by and take careful note of the color and temperature shifts happening.  It also helps to have a piece of scrap paper to test your colors on before diving in.

Hope this helps some.  Of course, practice makes perfect.  You may spend years of your life perfecting a technique and still have more to learn.  Maybe that's just me.

Here are some progress shots and a more recent pic of a piece that I've been working on for what seems like way too long now.


  1. Hey Eric, I'm a huge fan of your work, even though I work in a very different style. I think that some of the technique might be fairly similar. I'm a tattoo artist and painter in acrylic. I work with acrylic inks (specifically Liquitex ink, I believe Charles Vess uses the same?).

    I was wondering if you ever use concentrated acrylic like the liquitex or golden fluid acrylic, to build up darker values more quickly? If not, is there something that you prefer about the thinned out soft body acrylic?



  2. WOW. Stunning piece, Eric. I will forever be in awe of your patience and masterful handling of this technique.
    Love seeing these process shots too- interesting to compare the first and last...
    Hope you had a blast at SFAL! ;)

  3. Wow, Eric, that's just increadible, not only as execution and technique, shape and depth but also as an idea, love her hand...rly it makes my eyes hurt when I stare for too long but I love it :)

  4. Nice, is that blue on the dress a layer with a lot of water painted over the more greyish base before? When i try color washes like that it tends to blur the whole picture or at worst take some of the color from below with it.

  5. Brilliant, Eric. Just freaking brilliant!

  6. Viewing this piece is so comfortable to me. The whole image feels like a gentle pulling. I'm asking myself what is it about the composition, value and edges that makes this particularly appealing personally. I think I understand some of the overall composition decisions. I have a feeling that the mini compositions within the whole make it all work this well. Not trying to type jargon, just wow, this post has me thinking, love it. Thank you!


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