Part 5 – Exercise 4 – “Mixing materials into paint” – finished studies

The brief:

Experiment with mixing materials from the landscape to build texture into your painting. 


If you want to try mixing artist quality oil paints with different materials, use very small amounts of paint on small areas to start with as the paint is too valuable to waste if you don’t like the effect. 


Acrylic paints can be mixed with almost any materials to good effect. Collect together a selection of textural materials that could include the following: sand, earth, rice, crushed peppercorns, flour, salt and broken eggshells. Mix a bit of each of the materials into a midtoned paint colour and apply it to a prepared support. You could try out your textured paints on one large sheet of paper or card or on several small scraps of paper. When the paint has dried, look at the textured effects and add other colours either in patches or in a dilute wash across bigger areas of the painting. You could wait until this paint has dried or add highlights straight away.


This exercise suggests just some of the ways in which you could experiment with textures mixed in to paint. It may have given you ideas that you’d like to develop straight away or you could just make some notes on possible uses for these effects, which you can explore later. 


The textures you’ve created in these exercises can be further enhanced by the introduction of gloss or matte effects. A high shine added by a glaze of diluted PVA or varnish can really bring out relief effects. The contrast between flat matte areas of a painting and highly glossed areas can make for stunning visual effects.

The process:

My work in progress on this exercise can be seen here

Finished studies:

Painting No.1

Part 5 - exercise 4 - 'Mixing materials into paint' No.1 (click image to enlarge)

Part 5 – exercise 4 – ‘Mixing materials into paint’ No.1 (click image to enlarge)

I applied the acrylic paint here in a fairly light wash with the intention of building other layers once this first application had dried out. However, once dry I decided that I liked the washed effect and the way that the three primaries mingled with one another. There is something almost topographical about this image in my eyes that is suggested by the applied materials, the colour shapes and also by the raised contours of the wetted paper – desert, mountain range, ocean and islands – a bit like the old maps of the world I used to see at school in geography class.

Painting No.2

Part 5 - exercise 4 - 'Mixing materials into paint' No.2 (click image to enlarge)

Part 5 – exercise 4 – ‘Mixing materials into paint’ No.2 (click image to enlarge)

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the starting point for this and so chose to create three bands of acrylic colour mixed with gloss impasto gel – representing sky, lighter green to horizon and darker blue/green to foreground mixed from primaries. I also made use of some sprinklings of flour into these applications – in the sky as clouds; in the foreground as bright spots. It took me quite a while to identify some of the bigger bits of material that I had mixed into the paint and imagine their possibilities. I focused on pieces of bark and lines of spaghetti, which I picked out in colours straight from the tube – left to right: winsor violet; primary yellow; crimson; yellow ochre and cadmium orange; along with the wee burnt sienna ‘slug’ creeping patiently along the foreground.

Painting No.3

Part 5 - exercise 4 - 'Mixing materials into paint' No.3 (click image to enlarge)

Part 5 – exercise 4 – ‘Mixing materials into paint’ No.3 (click image to enlarge)

Continuing with the thicker application of acrylic paint and gloss impasto gel on top of the prepared ‘materials mixed into paints’ ground on paper, this study took on a few guises before I settled on this abstraction. It originally appeared to me through the application of colours as a busker with red guitar (in portrait format and probably not really apparent now) and emerged as – growth from burn out, rising from a dark place – somewhere I have been. Ok, so this is personal, but for me it is where I am now as opposed to where I have been – a better place (still with challenges), and which is a good thing for me and those I love. Heart on sleeve time!

 Painting No.4

Part 5 - exercise 4 - 'Mixing materials into paint' No.4 (click image to enlarge)

Part 5 – exercise 4 – ‘Mixing materials into paint’ No.4 (click image to enlarge)

It started out as a mess of paint on paper, but gosh, and honestly without any real conscious thought – there’s a golf club in there, a (my?) hand, a dropped fag (spot it if you can), some ‘yellow’ happy shots and a lot more ‘red’ hooks and splices (read a golf manual). Basically, this image could be anything or nothing, but this is what it means to me – and I enjoyed making it. [ps – I gave up cigarettes over 14 years ago]

I have experimented here and to be honest I loved every bit of this exercise – preparation, use of material, paint washes, thick application straight from tube, use of impasto gel, marking surfaces to move the paint around.

I think that the future use of some of the effects applied in this exercise depends on subject, intended or imagined impact, and eventually seeing what emerges as a result of the process.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319

18th November, 2014