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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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creativeprocess

Further Musings – Acrylic Artist, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins.

So, having been very opinionated in my last post about the differences between oil and acrylic painting, I find myself considering the art of Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins and wondering where his technique fits in. He uses acrylic paints but with, what I consider to be, an oil painting technique.

What I didn’t discuss in my last post is the use of retarders and mediums as there is a huge variety to discuss and I must admit I have fairly limited knowledge as I’ve only experimented with a few. Craola has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t like to mix too much stuff into his paints – but quite frankly you simply could not use acrylics his way without either the use of the mediums OR alternatively you can get acrylic paints which become workable again when sprayed with either water or a relaxer. Safe to say this is not an acrylic artist using standard acrylic paints alone.

Whilst his work is incredible – so beautiful and complex – I think what has really pulled me towards his work is his YouTube videos. It’s a real pleasure to watch an artist working in this much detail. Despite the questions it raises for me and the personal discomfort of watching an acrylic artist harnessing oil painting technique, I can’t help but be thrilled by his work and his videos. It is through artists like this that the whole of art society grows and develops. He’s a real king of lowbrow, or pop-surrealism depending on your take.

finding_home
‘Finding Home’ by Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins

This is the first time I’ve shared another artists work on my blog but I am very happy to have discovered this artist and feel that it’s made me question my technique. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it will encourage other artists to go through the same self-reflection. This is how we learn and grow as artists. I just can’t shake the niggling question…. As an out and proud acrylic painter, can we really stick up two fingers at the oil elite when we are developing techniques more akin to oil painting?

So without any further comment – here’s an example of Craola’s videos. Whether it’s right for acrylic artists to mimic oil technique is a question I’ll leave with you…

Enjoy x

Musings of an Acrylic Painter

It’s a question I’ve been asked a thousand times. Why don’t I paint in oils?

Whilst officially I say it’s because I like the speed of oils, or I prefer not to bring chemicals into a household with three very nosey kitties, the truth is this… My reluctance to venture into oils is a stubborn and slightly childish refusal to buy into the snobbery that still clings to oils.

It saddens me that many people still think that oil is better -that you can only be a professional artist if you buy into the oil elite. Many people adhere to the misconception that oil painting is more challenging and therefore you are a more talented artist if you use oil. Yes, there is a lot of technique and ‘book knowledge’ required to begin with and this does make it less accessible for beginners. But just because acrylics are a friendly medium for novice painters it doesn’t mean that the capabilities and possibilities of acrylics stop there.

It’s a wonder that with all the advances in technology and the developing modern world, some old attitudes linger on. If we look at how the attitude towards tattoos has changed just since the turn of the new century, why is it that a world so close to tattooing has not developed at all. In fact tattoo artists who turn to oil painting are somehow elevated above the talented artists choosing not to buy into oil fever… I want to halt my assault here just to add that I think it’s brilliant that so many tattoo artists are discovering their worth as traditional artists outside of tattooing and vice-verser that so many traditional artists are turning their talents to tattooing. It enriches both and movements such as lowbrow / pop surrealistic movements would be poorer without it.

Contrary to longstanding opinion – I don’t believe you have to be a better artist to use oils and I would like to see this view disintegrate as we have seen happen to the old edict that ‘tattoos are for convicts’ for example. In many ways I think tools and techniques exist in oil painting that can actually allow mediocre artists to cheat their way to creating pieces beyond their actual talent. If we take the process of colour glazing for example – it is possible in oil painters to create a piece with a fairly safe and limited use of colour and then, in the final hour of the painting, to use a colour glaze on top of the existing painting to create greater depth and variety in tone and colour. In acrylic painting however it is necessary for the artist to consciously seek out their desired colours. They must be skilled in colour mixing and matching, and know exactly how to create the depth and subtleties without the use of glazes and other techniques which to me feel like last minute shortcuts. The acrylic artist must be precise, skilled and have an exceptional feel for what they’re creating.

It’s time oil painting was taken down off the pedestal! Realism in painting is difficult to achieve. It is incredibly demanding and I would argue even more challenging for the acrylic artist. Lets stick two fingers up at the oil elite and start praising the acrylic artists out there – sticking to their love of acrylics and fighting against the old fashioned view that ‘real artists’ use oil.

The inspiration behind Black Bryony

I get asked a lot about my inspiration and where it comes from, so although the creation of a new piece is as natural and ephemeral as breathing, I thought it might be interesting to explain a little about this piece.

Following on from ‘Sense of Self’ I’ve known I wanted to do a neck corset for a while and the uncomfortable feeling of a nightmare was also something I was keen to portray. I felt that insects in the neck corset would create this emotion in the audience. An uncomfortable, uneasy feeling that there’s something creeping and crawling inside you. The exact insects to use was a much more difficult thing to decide. I originally wanted to use insects from the UK but eventually I had to change my mind and search globally for bigger and more varied insects. It was important to get bugs that were not too attractive for risk of ruining the emotive response I was looking to invoke in the audience.

Using the plant, Black Bryony, came about very differently. I was stopped in the car, parked next to a hedgerow in the countryside. From the window I noticed a beautiful plant that was winding it’s way through the hedgerow, creating beautiful shapes as it searched for places to cling to. I wanted to find out what the plant was but it took a lot of searching to find it. A waxy, heart-shaped leaved climber was the only thing I had to search for. Eventually I found Black Bryony and through my research found that it’s named after the black poisonous roots. It was instantly a keeper and something I knew was perfect for Ardent Shadows due to my interest in poisonous plants.

The colour scheme came about naturally after the concept had come together – black bryony and insects in a neck corset. I knew it was going to be largely green due to the subject and as I like to work with limited colour schemes depicting the flesh in blue tones seemed a natural choice. An accent in the complementary colour range is always a favourite of mine. I can’t explain why I chose do the hands and lips in this colour – that’s one of those little mysteries of the creative process. It just felt right.

Here are a few photos that illustrate my journey:

 

 

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