Meadow Flowers: Learning Acrylics

As noted before, I am starting to explore acrylics. I love the details and vibrant colors. Below is a 16 X 20″ painting on canvas wrap that I just finished, called “Meadow Flowers”.

The actual painting is a lot more vibrant; someday I will learn how to do a proper photo.

I used a limited palette: ultramarine blue, Hooker Green, Cadmium red medium, Hansen Yellow, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Titanium white. I love how quickly the painting dried (like, immediately!).

I will continue to share how the experimenting goes.

Sparrow painting: exploring acrylics

Recently, I have been experimenting with acrylics, taking a break from oils. I have a friend who is a wonderful photographer, and with her permission used part of a photo she took as a reference (photo was by K. Gasper) for a bird painting in acrylics.

My impressions of acrylic versus oils:

I enjoyed the incredible detail that I could get with the acrylics and how quickly it dried, so that building up layers was easier. What was hard was that I couldn’t blend as easily (the sky took forever, I actually touched it up a bit with a light layer of oils afterwards).

The painting went a lot faster (I was done with most of it in a few hours of painting, because I didn’t have to wait for a layer to dry first). Cleanup was a lot faster and easier, too (just water) and there was no chemical smell from the solvents used with oils.

I will be trying some more experiments with acrylics in the next few weeks.

What Michigan Artists Do in the Winter

The past few weeks it has snowed a LOT. Here’s a picture of what it looks like outside my front door:

Michigan scene in the wintertime

Outside my house

Since before moving here two years ago, I lived in warmer climates (California, and then Texas), I was amazed by the amount of snow that falls – and stays – each winter. The landscape will pretty much look like the picture above, until the end of March.
When I first moved here, I went “ooh, aaaah, how beautiful.” (I still do).

I have also become acquainted this past year with something we never used in California or Texas: a roof rake.

For those of you from warmer states, here’s what one looks like:

photo of a Michigan artist's roof rake

My roof rake

Okay, I can hear you southerners asking, “What in the heck is a roof rake?” (Especially those of you from counties in Texas with only 1 snow plow for the entire county). Well, when 6 inches of snow fall each day for 3 days in a row, the snow accumulates on the roofs.

Enough snow accumulates that the weight could actually cause a roof to collapse, especially if an ice dam occurs. An ice dam is something that house owners up north dread; when cold snow melts, it creates a ridge of ice on the roof, and then more snow and ice keep collecting on the roof.

So, in the winter, people in this part of the world participate in one of Michigan’s winter sports. They get out a roof rake and rake – yes, rake! – the snow off of their roof.

This is really good exercise, especially when it is 10 degrees outside, My friends all assure me that the cold temperature makes it even more invigorating. My friends are very enthusiastic people who were born here.

Raking roofs involves getting up on ladders, climbing up on the roof, and not slipping and falling to the ground, while raking the heavy snow off. The real challenge comes when you are up on the roof: seeing how long you can last until a chunk of ice under your feet breaks off, and whether you can jump to another part of the roof without plummeting to the ground below.

I have gotten pretty good at this. So good, that I have even helped friends rake their roofs. So, when I’m not painting, I’m…roof raking.

The forecast tonight is for 6 – 9 inches of snow during the night. So….ooooh. Aaaaah. Pretty. And plenty of exercise this next week.