Sennelier has been in the forefront of quality since 1887 when Gustave Sennelier opened his Colour Merchant Store in Paris. He then developed an oil pastel for Pablo Picasso, and manufactured large paint tubes for the Russian-born painter, Nicolas de Staël.
Some 128 years later, his company is still at the forefront of innovation with the launch of a pioneering range of acrylic paints in an exciting new style of packaging.
The acrylics are presented in a flexible pouch so strong it will withstand enormous pressure – even if you sit or stand on it. There is no waste and, as no air can penetrate, the paint doesn’t dry or spill out of the pouch.
With a transparent section on the packaging, there are no surprises in your selection of colours.
The colours come in handy 120ml and 500ml pouches; the larger ones in a limited range of colours only.
There are 36 satin-finished, 12 high-gloss colours, six iridescent and six fluorescent colours; all are heavy-bodied, have high pigment concentration and are ultra-transparent. Place that formula inside an ultra-strong, waste-free pouch and you have a recipe for success.
The heavy-body colours are a lovely smooth, creamy-to-thick consistency. It was a pleasure to apply them with a palette knife, brush, rag, fingers, and straight from the soft pack.
I experimented by watering them down into washes, using soft watercolour brushes, and using them thickly as impasto straight from the tube, working them with knives and hog-haired brushes.
I scratched, stamped and scraped, used collage scraps, and partly dried some of a painting with a hairdryer. I experimented with washing some of a picture away to leave an abstract image, which was ready to build up again and take to a different level.
Acrylics work well on many surfaces.
There are specially made pads and sheets, or use ordinary watercolour paper; I like the 140lb or 200lb NOT surface papers.
Canvases and prepared boards are excellent, but do buy the ones prepared for acrylics and not for oils, as these will affect the paint in time and it will peel off.
Try out for yourself all the many surfaces, as each will give you a different result.
Here are some techniques and ideas to help you become more familiar with what Sennelier Abstract Acrylics can do.
Consider them as just the beginning; make up your own experiments, too.
I included most of the methods seen here in the three examples of finished work you see below.
I used 140lb NOT paper.
Water down primary blue and apply to wet paper.
Drop a thicker wash of the same blue and a drop of wet white into the wash and let them diffuse and run together.
This gives a lovely transparent and delicate rendering of the paint.
Use a palette knife and a thicker application of primary blue and white straight from the tube, and drag the paint across the paper, blending the two together slightly.
This produces a good creamy sweep of paint, which lifts and drags over the paper’s surface.
Have a go at scumbling
Scumbling is another excellent technique to try.
Paint a base of vermilion, allow it to dry then apply a dryish layer of cobalt blue over the top. It partly covers the colour underneath, allowing the base colour to glimpse through.
Using flo yellow and primary blue very thickly, partly mix them together on the paper’s surface using a large hog hair flat brush.
Use dramatic sweeps and dabs, experimenting with the marks you make and sculpting the paint.
Some of the surface is thick while other areas are shattered and scrapped with dips and splashes.
Creating textural effects can be achieved by placing white acrylic paint straight from the pouch onto a palette knife, to represent a weathered wall or a crumbling step.
Allow the surface to dry (or to help with thickly painted objects, use a hairdryer) before washing over the surface with watery burnt sienna.
The paint seeps into crevices and puddles into varying tones in a natural way.
Use a hog hair brush to paint thick vermilion red on to the surface.
Press in natural and man-made objects to add depth and interest for a collage. Stamp on the circular pattern using the paint top.
Splatter watery paint off the end of your brush with your fingers to create soft or diffuse edges.
Vary your brushmarks
Try out as many marks that your brushes are capable of, forming numerous lines, curves, stabbing marks, dots and dashes, in a variety of colours, all interweaving with one another.
Note how they interact when each is near the other.
I used vermilion, flo yellow and primary blue here.
Add a sprinkling of salt
Salt is very successful when sprinkled into a watery wash of acrylic.
Try table, cooking and dishwasher salts. Apply loosely into the paint and allow to dry.
Do experiment with salt before you try it out on your paintings, as some practise is essential for success!
Use masking fluid
Make a pattern of masking fluid over the paper.
When dry, cover the area with a watered-down wash of burnt sienna and Hooker’s green and allow it to dry again.
When the masking fluid is rubbed off, you’ll expose the pattern underneath.
This is a valuable technique when you want small intricate details.
The colours in action
To paint Snowfall (below) I applied an undercoating of soft violet pink to the whole surface using a small rag.
I decided to paint this snow scene in an abstract form, using a palette knife over the top of the violet pink surface to keep all the shapes fairly simple and direct.
Some clean-cut edges were added using the side of the knife.
I also dragged and swept white paint over the hedgerow tops and down the sides, highlighting some of the gate structure then into circles and sharp angles to render the tree branches.
The background includes blues and violets, painted with the side of the knife and a greyish mix of burnt sienna and cobalt in various shapes to add depth.
Some splattering was added to the branches and a little dotted patterning over the hedgerow top.
Snowfall, Sennelier Abstract Acrylics on 200lb NOT watercolour paper, (30.5x40.5cm)
- Cobalt blue
- Primary blue
- Rose quinacridone
- Carmine red
- Burnt sienna
I began Pink Geraniums (below) by gluing a small length of textured netting on to 140lb NOT surface paper using PVA glue.
Then, with a watery wash, I sprinkled a little salt into the background colour of cobalt blue and allowed it to dry.
I used the images of these pink flowers to abstract the still life into a series of intertwining and interesting shapes that fade and melt into one another, and used darker negative shapes to highlight some of the leaf and flower petal edges.
I chose rose quinacridone, carmine red, white and vermilion for the flowers; flo yellow, flo green and primary blue for the leaves; and Hooker’s green with some blue for the darker accents around the foliage.
To finish, I added a slither of turquoise and gold ribbon that echoed the painting’s colours.
Free flowing drama
The dramatic scene in Approaching Storm (below) encompasses the action and fury of nature.
An apricot pink base mixed from burnt sienna, vermilion and white placed a light base and a good foil for the moody and turbulent sea, which was added in very thick paint using brushes and knives.
The colours were black, primary blue and cobalt blue, flo green, flo yellow and white. The brushstrokes echoed the curved and arched action of the waves, and the breaking foam topping these peaks came straight from the tube, thick and juicy!
Some of the wet paint diffused into the added layers, making the scene more dramatic, while other areas were in sharp relief, leaving the white and darker colours in marked constant.
Sennelier Abstract Acrylics glide over the surface in a creamy and attractive way. I would advise, however, that if applied very thickly, you use a hairdryer if you want a fairly quick-drying painting.
The depth of colour is excellent and the paints blended well together. The pouches were easy to hold and squeezing out the paint was trouble free.
Approaching Storm, Sennelier Abstract Acrylic on 200lb Rough watercolour paper, (30.5x40.5cm)
- Burnt sienna
- Primary blue
- Cobalt blue
- flo green
- Flo yellow
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