Adventures with acrylics
TOWARDS THE END of 2020, I felt relieved that I could paint again. It freed me from the boredom of the lockdowns and I regained a much-needed sense of achievement and confidence. Based partly on the initial postcards I did in May, I began to venture into larger pieces of acrylics on paper. Using the medium was special to me, as I have been dealing with ink on paper for most of my professional life.
During my last-minute dash to get art supplies, I ended up, happily if I may add, with Clairefontaine’s 300gsm satine Aquarelle, made of 100 per cent hot-pressed cotton. Although I was not seeking any particular set of effects from the paper, I could feel, for example, its ready absorption of the paints, its resistance to tear after being washed, its readiness to return to its original texture and shape, and its fineness that allowed me to use Rotring pens to draw fine lines without blotting or scratching.
Given my style of painting for this series, almost in patches, I could hardly express my feelings via brushstrokes. Getting the colours and shapes right, especially the unusual interconnectedness of the various elements, were paramount.
On another plane, the experience gave me a wealth of memories of how different papers responded to the application of ink — memories encapsulated in terms like dot gain, absorbency, showthrough, wood-free versus coated paper, colour separation and CMYK, lamination and varnishing, gloss and matt...
I feel very fortunate to be able to continue using paper and paints — highly gratifying and, at times, nostalgic. Like going home.
I must say also that acrylic paints had been a favourite medium of mine in the late 1980s. Indeed, one of the pieces then, a bit naughty and comical, was to foreshadow many of the forms in the pieces I did in 2020. Called "Beach Boys with Dog", it was painted in 1988 and has elements of Miro and Picasso. I am very pleased with it. I still use some of its features like legs going into the air and giving life to inanimate objects like planes. Fun!