Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Lucy McCann | Colour In Your Life

Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Lucy McCann | Colour In Your Life

G’day, folks. Well over the years we have filmed hundreds of incredibly talented people across the world. Many of these artists have gone on to produce their own videos as well. We hope you enjoy this great lesson from one of our Colour In Your Life artists. Hi everyone. My name is Lucy McCann. The reason I paint is to tell a story. I grew up on the land and have a great respect for it. I love the light, and especially the shadows at the different times of the day. Packing the van and heading on a trip is good for my soul. Seeing new and wonderful things inspires me to paint. I love our country; the diversity of the land and the sea, the colours and the ancient history. And I take every opportunity to record this. After a trip to the north-west Kimberly region of Western Australia, and seeing the beautiful rock paintings – their elegance, elongation and spirit, they have influenced my paintings. The Gwion Gwion rock art, or Bradshaw’s as some know them claim to be the oldest figurative art in the world. How amazing. I must admit the walk in was worth every step and I felt privileged to see them. This is another special place for me. It’s where our family had their annual holidays. It’s a happy and spiritual place. I really love the salty air; I love the sound of the waves. And if we get seagulls flying that would be wonderful as well. Light, thank goodness for the light; without light we have nothing. It gives me – when I’m looking at something, the form, the atmosphere, and the mood. Look at the light that we’ve got today – fantastic. Those shadows remind me of those beautiful rock paintings. So lets add my ideas that the spiritual dancing figures, the seagulls, and the traditional all into one painting. Can’t wait. Rhythm of the sea, taking flight, what a great name for a painting. I asked some children and their mother if they were willing to be in my painting, and I explained my ideas and showed them what I needed them to do. How to dress, what colours the outfits were, and what would work with my painting. I’m aware of the direction of the sun, and make sure it’s consistent light throughout the photo shoot. This is always vital when adding different photos together. It must be the same direction of light. Make sure all the shadows are going the same way. Welcome to our studio. I trained in dress design at college, and design my paintings using a dress makers code. The principles of good dress design in an outfit should have proportion, balence, harmony, enfaces and rhythm. This is one of my books from college, and the figures here you can see are slightly elongated, and I’m sure it influences my work. So we did a lot of work with figures; we did a lot of work putting clothes on figures, and we did a lot of work doing boarders. I do a lot of boarders now, I put them around my paintings. And let’s get started. So I’m actually stapling my canvas to my board. So I’ve measured fifty ml onto my canvas, and I need that measurement around the width of my painting for the framer to be able to stretch my canvas onto a frame when I’ve finished my painting. I also rule a seventy ml boarder for the width of the roller. Using a base photo and the images in my head I draw the headland, sea and rocks. This gives me an indication of the placement of these items. Okay, I think that’s quite good. That’ll be fine. Good starting point. I use a palette knife to mix a tone for the sky into the container that the roller came in. I then add acrylic painting medium to help the flow of the paint for the rolling process. I continue to make the mixes in the same container one after the other. This gives the painting harmony. Into the same container I mix a tone for the sea and again, add the painting medium. Using painting medium which is in my paint now helps the flow of the pigment. I like the look it gives, it gives a nice free form feel. And you can turn your board and have any direction of the flow of where you want your pigment to go. You can use a roller or a big brush, so long as you load it up and have enough medium in it, it will flow happily where ever you direct it. Okay, I’m going to drag my brush through some of this thicker paint, just so all my lines aren’t going in one direction. The sea is not like that, we get a broken – a few bits of broken movement with the swirl of it. And I’d also like to do a little bit of splattering to get the foam of the waves actually breaking some of the harder lines. It’s lovely in an area where it’s dark. Once again using the container that my roller came in, I mix the colour I require, adding enough painting medium to allow me to roll a boarder. This is placed between the fifty ml and the seventy ml pencil lines that I had originally ruled. I roll with a very light touch, leaving areas of the background area to show through. When this boarder is dry I place the A-four reference onto the canvas with Blu Tack to work out the composition and the size. I use three pastel pencils: a cool and a warm and white. I draw marks to give me hight, width and any corrections using these three colours, just as I would if I was making a dress pattern. From these coloured marks I draw a detailed drawing of the seagulls and their shadows. While I’m drawing, a line means a change in value, colour, shape and edge. And I take my time with the drawing to get a likeness. I need a likeness of the seagulls and their shadows, and each shape is very important to getting this likeness. These seagulls and their shadows represent the reality part of my painting. Acrylic paints are fast drying. I control this drying time by mixing my main three mid tones, like an oiliest with a super retarder. This retarder should be added to the paint at a ratio of two to one. This slows down the drying time and my paint remains open for the whole painting. So now I’ve got my three tonnes mixed, I’m just going to put a little bit of them onto my main palette, to be able to use all day, or how ever long I’m painting. And these will remain damp and moist for the whole time, because I’ve got the super retarder in them. Now we’re going to put the main palette of my tones into what is called a stay-wet palette. It has a damp cloth in it, and I like to drop a drop of clover oil into that to stop any mould, and I pop my tones in there. Make sure the lid is completely clicked on, and that will remain damp and usable for weeks. I also like to put some retarder in my spray bottle, depending on the climate you’re in, depends how fast your paint will dry out on your palette. So this little water bottle is ten parts water and one part retarder. And then just give it a shake and we’re ready to start painting. I’ve chosen the best quality acrylic paint. It’s in a well respected brand that works for me and the way I paint. It must be heavily pigmented and have minimal colour shift from wet to dry. Acrylic paint is non-toxic, has no smell and cleans up in cool water. I’ve been told that acrylic paint is forgiving, however I think knowing your subject and having a plan is always advisable. I’m very aware that the surrounding environment will have an influence of warms and cools on the seagulls. For instance the wings will have an influence from the sky, and the underside of the seagulls will have a warmer tone from the sand. Shadows will be lighter and cooler in the distance, and warmer and darker in the foreground. I use the shadows of the figures rather than the figures themselves to get the shapes for my dancing figures. I’d like to talk about filbert brushes. I use two. I find their mark making extremely versatile. The first one is a Toperquil made by Da Vinci. It’s shorter and fatter in the hair, and takes a lot of punishment. The second one is also made by Da Vinci, it’s a golden nylon, but it comes to the most beautiful point for calligraphy and mark making. These dancing figures represent the spiritual part of my painting, so they can be intuitive and more free form. I am so, so lucky to share a studio with artist, Barry McCann, and his passion and knowledge of art, and photography are invaluable to me. I like to write the title of the painting on my work along with a number, and this identifies how many there are in the series. I add some calligraphy marks for balance that are random and unjoined. And the signing part is part of this design. All my brushes get a though a wash out with Eco brush cleaner in cold water, reshaped and left to dry on a brush holder. It’s not a bad idea to distance yourself from your painting, so taking a photo on your phone is one way to do this. This is the time for any adjustments. In this painting I feel it needs some small figures in the background. I would like to adjust the shadows for the foreground rocks, and remove that rock that looks like a wing in the main seagull. My experiences, my memories, and my feelings have all come together in this story of reality, spirits and shadows. We would love any comments, or feedback, and our website is www McCann fine art dot net dot au. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram. Please look us up. Thanks so much for talking the time to watch my show. I hope you’ve been inspired to pick up a brush, or a roller, and put some colour in your life. Bye for now.

100 thoughts on “Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Lucy McCann | Colour In Your Life

  1. I loved this painting-very professionally done.  Birds were well drawn and painted–why did you do the people so abstract?  It didn't make sense to me—take the people out and the composition is perfect–

  2. Such a neat painting. The roller looks like a very useful tool, you can cover a lot area and can make different types of marks with it. Thank you for sharing your techniques, Lucy. 🙂

  3. Amazing. I love and thoroughly enjoyed the process of technique and story. What a wonderful inspiration to me. Thank you.

  4. Great video – enjoyed it so much, I had to watch it twice. What a superb painting, with so much going on in the painting itself but also in the personal & spiritual elements that were part of the preparation for the painting. Thanks to Graeme for finding another 'treasure' to share with us – also thanks to Lucy's husband, Barry, for a really excellent job on the filming & editing. And, of course, the biggest thanks of all to Lucy for sharing herself and her painting with us. Best wishes from Florida, Brian.

  5. Lucy , I love this. So free. The first acrylic of yours I have seen and hope there are many more.

  6. Thank you for a wonderful, inspiring video that resulted in a great painting! What was the acrylic retarder you used? I've been looking for one that retains the consistency of heavy body paint.

  7. Really great to watch the process! although you took references of birds and used the reference shadows without contemplating your light source in your picture. The front seagulls shadow doesnt match the others light source, looks kind of weird

  8. I gotta say I dig your painting, but if I'd had a mother like you I'd have moved out as soon as possible. Maybe that was your point. Thanks for the art.

  9. Thanks for sharing this great painting. This is the first acrylic painting of yours that I have seen- loved all the details given during the painting, with the different techniques. I’m locking it away in my memory bank for later use!😀 👍

  10. Lol, for a moment, I am thinking how is she painting while driving. Of course it’s an American, wondering. Never like acrylic, always oil. Since I had an injury that’s limiting my getting out, I’m going to give it a try again.

  11. Very nice. I like the mix of reality and , hmmmm, fantasy(?) in the figures. Terrific explanation of your process. I also have to comment about your painting in nice clothes and not getting a drop on yourself or your clothes. I’ll be viewing this vid several more times. Thank you for your effort.

  12. 简直像魔法一样完美,画面很亮,很有阳光感,鸟的背光部画的特别好,我喜欢这样的画,我也经常去墨尔本海边去画并拍成视频,只是,我画的是水彩,并且只有A4大小的规格。

  13. Absolutely stunning painting! I love the theme and the story behind it. You've got a God-given talent, Lucy. I will keep learning and practicing. Beautiful work! God bless you for sharing with us.

  14. Lucy, what a delightful and fact filling video. Thanks for sharing your beautiful painting and techniques!

  15. wonderful you are very talented artist wonderful color in your country UK not so bright wonderful Pippa xxx


  17. Really enjoyed watching. I always find it interesting how other artists are inspired to paint a particular subject. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Wow I just watching your process I would love to with painting I would enjoy looking at it for years .
    But I also learned from you I from you too
    I have a night photo of Paris I'm decopoging to a large canvas that had City scape on it already something had spilled on the canvas that's were I will be gluing Paris to I have repainted the canvas to match the Paris night sky that is in pink tones I did a good job I can't tell were the photo sky line is to what I wanted
    Thank you for your art and beauty . Have a great day

  19. The painting is absolutely inspiring and I thank you for sharing your passion for painting… there's nothing better in the world… than… human expression and emotion displayed by the artwork of your hands 👐 on canvas… and with a result like yours!!!??? GOODNESS ME OH MY!!!

  20. I love that you use a brayer. I use on e with the grandchildren with rubber stamp art. I'm going to use your technic on a large flower I am working on. Thank you for the inspiration.

  21. how lovely very spiritual I thought you spoilt it with the figures but when you finished I loved it.  
    happy and colourful thank you

  22. Very interesting video. (You need to "normalise the sound") But I was surprised that Lucy stapled her canvas to a board instead of having a frame right from the start. However that's just me.

    I was curious to discover the brand name of the "super retarder" she mentioned. Personally the fast drying time of acrylics is a constant nuisance to me. I live here in Thailand and it's 90 degrees every day of the year. Just the other day I tried to buy acrylic retarder, but couldn't find any in any of the shops. Eventually I've tried "hair gel" Yes, just ordinary hair gel. Not too much, just as an experiment at first, but it seems OK. It definitely slows down the drying time, so you can cover half a square foot without the usual lifting and tackiness.

    The paint manufacturer who has enough sense to market their paint with retarder already in it will make a fortune and put all his competitors out of business. I do have a wet pallet, and that does work OK. It's just when I've got the paint on the brush and when the paint's on the canvas that it drys too quickly. I need to keep rinsing the brush to remove the paint in the brush that's refuses to flow off the brush onto the canvas

    So, could you please tell me the brand name of the "super retarder" and I'll definitely try it
    I'm not totally sold on the hair gel solution yet. It's early days but I like to do things properly
    In closing I thought Lucy's finished painting was excellent.

    I've lived by the sea here in Thailand now for nearly 20 years and I love it. But we don't have even one seagull. We have pigeons and minor birds but no seagulls. Mind you I'm not complaining they do make a mess

    Anyway thanks for the video and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future

    Kind regards – Chris Newton – in Thailand

  23. A wonderful insight into a master artist's thoughts, inspiration, methods and philosophy! Well done Lucy – a superb painting with wonderful artistic license. I can see your dance and your song in this beautifully evocative painting. Excellent filming and editing Barry! What a fabulous team you and Barry are! Congratulations!

  24. Hi beautiful work. What did you put your paint on inside your stay dry palette? It was not the stay dry paper. Looked like plastic.

  25. Lucy, thank you for such a wonderful tutorial. It has inspired me to use a much larger canvas than I have ever tried before. Loved watching you paint the seagulls.

  26. Indeed a feast for the eyes and heart to watch you develop your subjects and paint. Thank you. Your style and techniques are new to me🌺

  27. Have you ever wondered what it's like to pose nude for an artist? Watch the trailer for the new life modelling documentary NAKED:

  28. What a breath taking painting!! Your spiritual figures gave it such an amazing dimension. Thank you for sharing with us!! Great tips also!

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