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How To Paint Acrylic Tips

Updated on July 2, 2011

Baubo and the Eight Gates

Baubo is a mythological figure who beckons you to brave the gates of the second half of life. She offers to show you the way through the darkness to find life after youth.
Baubo is a mythological figure who beckons you to brave the gates of the second half of life. She offers to show you the way through the darkness to find life after youth.

How to paint acrylic for symbolic expression

I've been painting with acrylics most of my life, over 40 years. Acrylic paints are by far the easiest to learn and the most versatile. Many new types of paint--metallic, glossy, transparent, heavy bodied--have been developed to make learning how to paint acrylic fun and easy.

In addition, learning how to paint acrylic also teaches the painter to work fast, to jump in and do something, secure that if it doesn't work, it can be painted over quickly. You get confidence from being able to see the results of your work without having to wait a week or two for each level to dry enough to continue, which is part of the process with oils.

This painting, which is 28in x 32in (71.1cm x 83.3cm) in the full size (This is a detail for family friendly webs) was painted in one weekend over two days. It was a project for a grad school class to express the concepts we were discussing in a visual way. Some of it is several layers deep, but each iteration helps develop the idea further.

Some acrylic painting tips: Another layer can be added to bring out a detail or to create depth with rich shadows. A color can be changed to shift the mood, or a wash can obscure one part to make another stand out.Judicious use of metallics can enhance the decorative nature of the work, though metallic paints don't show up on the web.  

All the details are symbols. The subject of the painting is the Eight Gates that represent the journey through the second half of life. Baubo, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, is a trickster to show the way. The first gate is fearsome, an arch made of silver snakes, which are ancient images of death and renewal.

The second gate represents the old things in life that don't work any more, such as the old American dream of the house with the picket fence that now needs repair and paint. But so much more awaits in the distance--the cave of the inner self, the altar of the relationships, the cauldron of creativity in the wilderness, the bone gate of perception beyond the appearance, the deep woods of the valley of the shadow of death, and finally, the golden gate to the new life. In the distance, is a new moon, which sets with the sun, but we have our torches and our guide to aid us on our quest.

While you can paint any kind of subject matter with acrylics, learning how to paint for symbolic expression involves your total being. You not only use your visual sense, but the motion of your body in painting, your conscious mind for matching your experience to the concepts with your memories and inner Knowing.You choose the images that make sense for you, and you are not limited to representational images, but you can work directly with color, texture, line and shape to express yourself. Learning how to paint acrylic gets you in touch quickly with your inner self, and you pick up the skills of the tools as you go along.



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    • sheryld30 profile image

      sheryld30 8 years ago from California

      Glad you did this hub. This is definitely a must! Thanks!! :)