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My life with acrylics

Monday, November 16th, 2020 , by
My life with acrylics

I love acrylic paint, it is in my opinion the best possible medium to work with. I’ve always been a creative sort and it has taken me quite the journey to get to where I am today with this artistic medium. I suppose I should start at the beginning of my story.

I was born and raised in a small town in southern Ontario Canada. I was outside nearly all the time, the time outside was largely spent searching for insects and animals. I nearly always find myself being drawn to that world, the colours and intricate creations of the natural world around us never fails to inspire me and teach me more about myself. The basis of all life stems from that world, we are around it all the time and yet it is such an important – nearly magical aspect of our very existence.

Being inspired by these things had brought the artist out of me. My mother always helped me stay creative, she always ensured I had creative tools at the ready. From as young as 4 I remember her taking out those FolkArt acrylics and sending me off to create any number of possibilities. I would often just paint the world as I saw it, this was of course through the eyes of a child. As I started school I kept colouring and creating, I was an outcast and it was always something I turned to for comfort. I was in a small school of about 100 pupils divided into 8 different grades, being different in such a small place did not go unnoticed. I was physically abused by the boys in the class and the girls largely ignored me because I was so “weird”. I chose art as my therapy, as my confidant. I fell away from painting and I largely focused on sketching. My home life began to change rapidly as well, my parents divorced when I was 10. My father was never really there for me since he never wanted me, he kept me and my brother to get back at my “crazy” mother (she struggles with bipolar disorder). It was far from easy. Shortly after he got back together with an ex of his, she was incredibly abusive. I was tormented at school, and at home – when I was 12 I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. What a lovely bunch of memories. The one thing I could turn to was creating something new, a new world, as I lovingly call my work now “phantasms”.

Things stayed the same until I was in high school, I picked up a paintbrush. I painted for 2 years during my time in school – acrylics were the go-to. Things in my life didn’t improve until I was about 16, I moved in with my mother and I dropped out of school, due to being sexually abused by a family friend. Of course, they chose him and I was just as “crazy” as my mother according to them. At least I was finally with my mother again. I struggled, I couldn’t leave the house or even buy my groceries for over a year after moving in. Once again my mother encouraged me to paint, to feel the best way I knew how to feel – by putting it on paper. I started to feel like a real person again, I started to feel happy again, by that point, I had nearly forgotten the feeling.

I was who I was meant to be, I was finally becoming the artist I was always meant to be.

Acrylic is a brilliant medium for a host of reasons, it can be applied thick and create an oil like appearance - on the other hand, it can be applied similarly to watercolours. They are fantastic for artists who don’t want to wait for months until the work is dry and ready to be varnished. Though, if you need to be able to blend and work with the paint for a longer time fluid retarders are a must-have. There is no need to clean the brushes with turpentine, simply clean in water. Overall a much healthier and diverse option. One of the downsides can be that acrylics tend to dry a bit darker than other paints once dry, a simple solution is to mix the colours a tad lighter than the colour you need to replicate.

Some artists use paper, some canvas and others use non-traditional things like cardboard. The most important thing is to use gesso on whatever you want to paint on. I prefer to use a traditional cotton canvas as it gives a good solid base, plus, it acts as a frame. I do tend to use paper, I find them great for scanning to upload quality images for things I may want to use for prints. Paper is a bit more difficult as it is harder to blend and requires framing – having said that it can be just as archival as canvas and such.

Over the years I have married a Welshman and about 2 years ago we moved to Ireland. I still speak to my mother regularly, she continues to support me and inspire me. For the past few years, I’ve been focusing on the artwork, I’ve done multiple galleries and I enjoy nothing more than a hot cup of tea and a brush in my hand, the endless possibilities continue to be wonderfully overwhelming. The feeling on the paint smoothing over the surface of the canvas, watching something arise from absolutely nothing. What a feeling. I mentioned previously that I enjoy calling my pieces phantasms, well, I will quote my website on this one – “To begin I must first explain why this is, of course, a phantasm. Most may know the term to mean a ghost or an apparition. In this case, though, I suppose it could be considered the ghost of an idea that I have released into this realm. It can also be an illusion, a figment of thine own imagination, or it could simply be a mental representation of a real object. In my phantasm I will turn a real object into my own visualization - I turn it into my mental representation of an object or multiple objects. I turn these items into what I truly see them as at any given moment in time. These particular pieces of my creations are all acrylic, the ideas have been translated onto a carrier or sorts.”

Here’s to the humble acrylic paint, you absolutely make my dreams come true.

 

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