New Materials: Interactive Acrylics, Part 2

Assisi was calling me. I knew a depiction of that landscape would be my next major project. The landscape called for something large and daring (for me, anyway). I hauled out one of my 30×40 canvases. The canvas meant I’d need to do it in acrylic. And covering that much canvas before the paint dried meant giving the Interactive acrylics another go.

I began with a flat, warm, mid-tone, ochre-like wash with a standard acrylic, so it wouldn’t lift if I needed to rework any over-layers very deeply.

As the underlayer of standard acrylic dried and cured, I was aware of the sharp odor of the product and realized that there had been no such odors when I had used the Interactive acrylics. This is a factor worth considering in our household, since my husband is sensitive to a lot of chemicals and solvents—one reason I don’t use oil paints.

While the base coat dried, I planned the composition from my reference photos, sleeping on it (figuratively speaking) to give my subconscious some play. Then, value study in hand, I set to work. The peculiar angles of the old hilltop village made the perspective appear out of whack, but I stuck with it, taking considerable artistic license in simplification and interpretation of the scene.

120105 Assisi Aspect

I did use the reworkability of the Interactive acrylics, including the so-called “unlocking formula” (that smells and acts like rubbing alcohol, which, by the way, can also be used to “unlock” the set paint). As the painting was nearing completion, I realized that the stonework in the focal area was darker than I’d originally intended. Though it looked weathered and old, it had lost the golden glow that is so typical of much of the Italian countryside. So, using the “unlocking formula,” I gently wiped off some of the upper layers, sometimes taking it all the way down to the ochre base coat. A soft gold glow reappeared, and I was happier with the result.

A month later, I was still uncomfortable about several aspects of my “finished” painting, so I went back to work. Using the unlocking formula and alcohol, I wiped away some of the dried paint and reworked several areas. The Interactive acrylics made that possible. I don’t particularly like the texture of the paint, though, when I attempt to “unlock” what has dried on the palette. I find it much preferable to squeeze out more, fresh from the tube. So I found the “unlocking formula” more useful for removing unwanted paint than for making dried paint workable.

The Interactive Acrylics did make painting—and repainting—easier. But it isn’t ideal. Neither was the result. I still prefer watercolor.

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