Acrylic and oil paintings

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

I've had a few false starts with acrylic painting. I missed a golden opportunity to learn in 1997 when I dropped out of an expensive Open University course that included private one-to-one tuition. The three paintings below are all I have to show for the few weeks I stuck the course.


The next time I picked up a brush was in 2018. I hadn't much of a clue how to start but I got help from artist friend, Peter Elliot, and from Dr Google. Referencing an old photo of a rock formation on the Central Coast, it wasn't long before I knew things weren't going plan. Uncharacteristically, I decided to just relax and let the painting take me where it wanted to go. The end result, Rock On, was crazily different to anything I'd ever done before. Not withstanding, I was allowed to hang it, temporarily, on the wall in our back room and it soon earned the right to stay put.

'Rock On', acrylic, 91 x 122cm

I was pleasantly surprised to learn first hand that it's possible to find good subject in the most unsuspecting places. This was my experience one day as I was washing the dishes. The garlic that had sat on the window ledge for weeks prior was, all of a sudden, caught by the morning sun caught in a way that made it spring to life with the most wonderful tonal contrasts, shapes and textures. It was just crying out to be painted! The paint was literally still drying on Garlic when I delivered it to our church's Art For All exhibition. I hung it in our front room as soon as the exhibition was over and it's still hanging there today.

'Garlic', acrylic, 76 x 76cm

Sierra Nevada was an experiment in using the Zorn palette for colour and the palette knife for application. The great Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920), used only four colours: yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white although, like most artists today, I used cadmium red light in place of vermilion. I didn't really have a clear idea of what I was going to do when I started and I think that shows in the composition, which could be a lot better. On the other hand, I was pleased with the range of colours I was able to mix and how they worked together. Knowing that the colours I was using would always work well together gave me a lot more confidence - a big help for those of us who have the extra challenge of being somewhat colour blind.

'Sierra Nevada', acrylic, 45 x 59cm

Oil painting of girls crouching down looking at shells on a beach with mountains in the background
'Treasure Hunting', 121cm x 75cm, oil on canvas

Always attracted to a good bargain, I bought a huge but very ugly painting at an auction simply because I knew the frame it was in was worth many times what I had to pay. With the encouragement of an artist friend and the loan of his paints I, rather ambitiously, set about doing my first oil painting on it. The subject I chose was my youngest daughter, Emma, searching for beautiful stones on a beach - one of her favourite things to do and one of life's simple pleasures. The picture of her Treasure Hunting in New Zealand is quite a characteristic pose for her.

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