The PULP WESTERN and ANGELS & OUTLAWS Series of acrylic paintings combines images of the old West with Hollywood cowboys, pin-ups and characters from pulp fiction novel covers of the 1940’s
When I used to think of paint and paintings, I would think of either watercolors or oil paints, I never thought of acrylic paint. I had heard of acrylics, but I never really gave them any thought until recently when I saw some wonderful acrylic paintings at the Fairhaven Originals Gallery. There were a couple of things about them that really caught my eye, things that turned out to be advantages of acrylics over other types of paints.
But first, a little bit of history about acrylic paint. Most of us are primarily familiar with oils and watercolors, the first because that is the paint used by all of the old masters; the second because we all used watercolors in school as children. Though ours were on a little tray instead of in tubes! Acrylics have not been around for very long. They were first introduced for use in the art world in the 1950s under the name of Magna by Bocour Artist Colors. These original acrylics were mineral spirit-based paints, though only a few years later water-based acrylic paints became available. Andy Warhol was one of the first famous painters to adopt the use of acrylics. Not much else can be said about acrylics, without discussing their benefits. So here are the advantages of using acrylic paints.
Acrylics can be used with a wide range of techniques. They can be thinned down with water and used as a wash like watercolors or used to build up thick layers of paint, even to the point of having relief features that are sculptural. Anywhere from a gloss to a matte finish can be accomplished using different techniques. It can be used on a wide range of media. Though oil and water paints can be used on different media, acrylics can bond to a greater variety of different surfaces. Besides canvas and paper, acrylics can be used on wood, metal, concrete, stone, and more. Plus, the appearance of the paint can be modified depending upon the surface and other media introduced to the paint. acrylic paints are fast drying. This is one of the primary differences between acrylic paint and oils, and depending upon what you are doing, it is either good or bad. With some techniques, long drying time is beneficial, it allows for more time to blend colors. But for the artist who likes to work quickly, acrylics are a must. It is the fast evaporation of water that allows for the quick drying time, and if it dries too quickly for you, you can add in retarders to slow down the drying Acrylics can be mixed with a wide range of media. You can add a lot of textures and variety to your art by mixing other media into the paint. Some of the possibilities include sand, rice, or pasta. Or, when the acrylic dries, you can use other media, such as charcoal, pen, and pastels on top of the paint. Acrylics seem to be more stable than other paints. They have only been around for 60 years, but so far there are no signs of cracking, yellowing, or other deterioration.
If you have not yet tried acrylic paints, give them a chance. With some of their many advantages, you may be quite pleased with your results.
One might justifiably wonder about emotion and its relationship to modern art. It’s a natural thing to consider, given that experiencing art often provokes an emotional response in the viewer. In fact, many people have felt, and feel, that the real purpose of art is not to express emotion but to give rise to emotion in others. On the other hand, there are those who argue that the real purpose of art is to act as a medium of expression for the artist, one that allows him or her to graphically portray their own emotions through a painting, sculpture, or other created piece. So, what is the role of emotion in modern art? Is it an effect or is it a cause?
In asking whether an emotion is a cause or effect of modern art, we might first consider our own experiences with emotion in general. First of all, it is something we can all relate to because we all have experience with it. There is clearly reason to believe that emotions are caused by things and events that are external to the self. For example, think of the last time you remember seeing something in nature that made you feel an emotion.
For me, it was the other night as I was driving into the small town where I live. As I crossed the two-mile bridge crossing the lake going into town I was moved by the scene. The huge varied gray clouds were hovering menacingly over the turbulent water world below. The mountains looked resolute, almost somber in their dark majesty. The lake reflected the mood of the clouds. And the people driving past me on the road seemed insignificant and unnecessarily harried. I felt something. For me, it was melancholy and peace. I have always liked days like that. The point is that I had an emotional response to something outside myself. I looked at something, and I felt something inside.
When I look at modern art, do I have an emotional experience? Yes, I do. So I could certainly say that emotion is an effect of art. But another aspect of our common experience with emotion is how it wells up from within and gives rise to creative acts, like modern art and other manifestations. It wasn’t that long ago when I experienced this phenomenon for myself when I found myself creating something in my woodshop, not because I needed that something, but because it was a way for me to express the emotions I felt. As I experienced the transformation of the wood I was aware of my own emotional need. I learned that indeed, emotion is a cause.
Perhaps you might object to the way I phrased the original question. Maybe you think that emotion is both a cause of modern art, as well as an effect of looking at it and that it would be a mistake to make such a categorical distinction. I wouldn’t argue with you. There are ample reasons to see things this way. In fact, given our human nature, it would be pretty difficult to separate the two. Modern art is such a wonderful thing because it both rises from emotion, as well as gives rise to emotions in the viewer. It is both cause and effect.