Quick Still Life Sketching in Acrylics – Part 1

In this series we will be creating a monochrome study in acrylics. This is a great exercise as the materials are basic and easy to get hold of – so you can get used to using brushes and mixing paint in a simple manner.

We will be working from a great painting by Emil Carlsen that features a really nice contrast of textures – the shiny brass pot vs. the soft feathers of the swan. There is also a nice amount of contrast that looks really luminous in the image.

These are the materials you will need:

  • Small panel, canvas or piece of acrylic paper to paint on
  • Range of small to medium brushes
  • White acrylic paint
  • Black Acrylic Paint
  • Palette
  • Easel
  • Pot (for water)
  • We will begin by loosely blocking/washing in some basic darker shapes.
  • Start with anything that helps define the shapes of the main subject (the pot and swan).
  • Use a reasonable amount of water to thin the paint (this will make it dry faster but that’s ok – you will get used to the acrylic as you work with it more).
  • Once the darker shapes have been placed – you can mix some halftones to fill in the rest of the scene.
  • Keep working loosely – we will be refining more as the painting progresses.
  • Finally, you can add some lighter tones to start defining the shape of the swan.
  • These tones will only be a tad darker than white (if you go too dark the swan won’t look bright enough).


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