For most artists the problems usually encountered when painting on location with acrylics are the drying time and the colour shifts. However, acrylics are versatile and easy to use, provided you have the right gear to make the process comfortable and easy going.
I visited Cromer in the height of summer to capture the buzz of life around the pier and beach – I hope you enjoy following me through my process and that you too can go out there with your acrylics and express yourself. It’s an adventure!
I use Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic in titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow pale, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, permanent alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, Hooker’s green, sap green, burnt sienna and raw umber. I arrange these colours clockwise.
Adebanji's colour palette
Mediums for acrylics
Mediums are very important for their range of effects and moderating the drying time of acrylics. I use Winsor & Newton Artists’ Slow Drying Medium to keep the paints moist for long periods of working outdoors; they also give the paints greater flow and covering power. Winsor & Newton’s Acrylic Retarder does the same job, it’s just a bit thicker. I use Galeria Heavy Structure Gel for areas where I would like to have heavy texture.
Adebanji's mediums for acrylics
Brushes and boards
I use mostly fan brushes, bristle, synthetic and mongoose hair – that I clip to serve my painting purposes (see below). I do this because I love the paint to sit on the surface, with minimum texture of the board or canvas showing. I noticed I could only achieve this with a fan brush; it is very thin and can just pick colour blobs with less paint getting stuck in the bristles and can almost match a palette knife for clean colour application and straight-edge applications. I also use riggers, sable and synthetic, and long-handled filberts, bristle and synthetic.
Adebanji's clipped brush detail
All the paintings here are on Winsor & Newton canvas board, sanded and coated with gesso white mixed with a little yellow ochre and burnt sienna, which helps remove the glare of the white canvas. I use a brown pencil for sketching because it is less obtrusive, and have a little bucket of water for washing brushes that I attach to my easel with a string.
I use two palettes, I have tear-off disposable palettes for mixing the colours on, which I either hold in my hand or stack up against my easel, as shown below. The other is a Daley-Rowney Stay Wet palette on which I lay out the colours – I have this set up so that I can keep the colours on the palette clean. I don’t use the sheets provided because I found that the sheets move during transit, causing the colours to mix up, so I just use the deep well. It’s good because it also has a lid to preserve the colours.
Adebanji Alade's plein-air kit
DEMONSTRATION: Cromer from the Rocket House Café
Adebanji painting Cromer from the Rocket House Café.
This photo shows how I was positioned in relation to the scene in the distance. It was an interesting scene with a Z or S shaped composition in order to connect the background to the foreground and back again. I love these kinds of scenes and I was ready to give it a go!