Botallack mine updated, mixed media painting and thoughts on acrylic paints

I took another look at that painting I wasn't happy with, bearing in mind crit from friends on and off line and my own feelings about what was wrong. I spent about 10 minutes on it with oil paint scumbled over in areas, allowing the acrylic underpainting to shine through and leaving a lot untouched.

The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, mixed media painting, 11 ins square. Vivien Blackburn

The oil paint instantly improved it (for me anyway!) - the vivid blues are toned down but still glow through and now have recession. I heightened the ochre tones that you get in the grass on cliff tops, which plays nicedly against the blue. The more vivid grass and subtler sea/sky now balance much better to me and I prefer the scumbling and variation in colour that I can get with oils. I also lightened the light areas of the cliffs a little more and added more ochre where it showed on cliffs and rocks in light scumbles. The sky is more interesting and melts into the sea without a clear division along the full length.

Below you can see close ups of the layers and scratches and scumbles - which are easy to achieve with oils or oils over acrylics - but I just don't seem to be able to get this with acrylics alone :>( . Acrylics aren't opaque enough to cover totally like oils, one major problem to me, nor translucent enough for me to swish a thin thin layer quickly and freely without hard edges (it takes work to soften the edges enough and the freedom of the mark gets lost). My natural method of painting is subtractive as well as additive and oils just work so much better for me.

I think I have to accept that for me acrylics work beautifully in mixed media but not alone. Maybe for a painter who puts colours down and leaves them alone they are perfect - or who builds subtle layers in an abstract way without marks like Tina, where they are perfect - but not for me who loves marks in my own work - some subtle glazes, some scratching through, opaque areas, translucent areas and layers.

Details: (the paint is still wet so is a little reflective)

previous version that I didn't like:

What do you think? better?


Charlene Brown said…
Yes, with my first glance at the new one, I wanted to be there -- and the rock detail is magic!
Chris Bellinger said…
I am confused now!
A visiting Artist for this year stated that you should not use oil paint on top of Acrylic...emulsion and Acrylic being similar are ok but she was against the use of Acryli and oil, one is water based the other not and over time the painting will be effected, hope I have not upset , I may have got it wrong...rules can be broken anyway.
Like the painting....
Robyn Sinclair said…
It works beautifully, Vivien. There is more texture and it holds my eye and moves me around into the picture. Beautiful. Mind you, if I'd come home with the first version I'd be pretty happy too. As I said previously, I really love your composition.
Gail Burton said…
Hi Vivienne,
I agree with you on the improvement, although I hadn't seen the original before today. I also like to 'see' the marks and lines in a painting, I think it makes it so much more interesting. This is a lovely painting, and very well done.
Chris Bellinger said…
can I amend last comment..after asking on Twitter (see blog) Consensus seems to be Oil on Acrylic ok but Acrylic on oil a no no....ayway you are the more experienced artist than me!!!
PS Have a look for Twitter regards Art Networking and research,
vivien said…
Yes Chris, oil over acrylic is fine and I often do a limited underpainting in acrylic in the studio but acrylic over oil will peel off in time and means disaster!

Charlene, Robyn and Gail thanks :>)
Dead romantic!

A softness, a mistiness, the gentle hypnotic wash of surf on the cobbled beach, the scent of Sea Lavender, and gulls drifting overhead calling plaintively.

Thanks for the larger image size too :o)
dinahmow said…
Ok, so I am not a painter ("I-don't-know-much-about-art-but-I-know-what-I-like" type?)but I can say I like the new version.
It has(to my eye) greater depth and good definition between elements, like sea/sky.
And you appear to have "done a Blackburn" and scratched here and there. Lovely!
Julie Dunion said…
Hi Vivien, I've started following your blog after seeing all the great advice you leave on the Artists forum! I think the oil glazes have really worked just to soften the image in all the right areas and as a result the painting is more atmospheric. The rock area is beautifully done.
vivien said…
Hi David - aggressive little devils those gulls, I'm not sure about plaintive! Have you had a good look at those beaks up close when they have a beady eye on your Cornish pasty?

Dinah thanks :>) I've started a larger canvas and already done-a-Blackburn with the scratching!

Julie - hi :>) thanks and welcome
John DeMint said…
hey i like you style... you should check out my paintings. i wanna know what you think?
vivien said…
thanks John - and your work is really vibrant and powerful
caseytoussaint said…
Yes, it's vastly improved from your working into it. It's just loaded with atmosphere now. Thanks for sharing your observations on your use of media - I really learn something every time you post.
Jean Spitzer said…
It is much more atmospheric and romantic with the oil overpainting. Your analysis of when acrylic works well corresponds to what I've experienced.
vivien said…
Casey and Jean thank you :>)

I've enjoyed the recent work by both of you

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