I found a great step by step acrylic painting tutorial on YouTube created by the very talented Artist and Instructor Bob Davies. Bob has a number of free excellent demonstrations, tips and tutorial on his YouTube page, so be sure to head on over after viewing this lesson.
Red Wharf Bay Painting Tutorial by Bob Davies
In this lesson, Bob will demonstrate how he paints a landscape using a photograph of a place called Red Wharf Bay, as his reference. He is using watercolor mount board as his support. Watercolor Mount Board is usually used as a support to mount watercolor paintings but also makes an excellent surface for acrylic paints.
The first step is to prime his surface. He does this using a wash made of yellow ochre. He does this to cover up the white of the canvas making it easier to judge values during the painting process.
The colors he will be using for this painting are Permanent Rose, Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burn Umber. He is also using a medium called Acrylic Retarder which slows down the drying time of acrylic paints making them workable for longer periods of time.
He thins down some Ultramarine Blue to an almost watercolor consistency. He will use this to sketch in his composition. There is no need to be too detailed at this stage, just a simple sketch will suffice.
Then, he begins to block in the lights and darks. He leaves some areas of the painting untouched during the block in process. Areas like the sky and water can be suggested with the yellow ochre primer.
In step 2, Bob starts with a mix of Yellow Ochre, Titanium White and a bit of Ultramarine Blue. He will use this mixture to paint in the sky with a fan brush using a criss-cross motion. As he approaches the horizon, he uses more white. He is careful not to over blend the sky color as it will take away from the realism. He uses a darker blue in portions of the sky to balance the painting with the darker blue boats. He has plenty of paper towel on hand to clean his brush before changing colors. Still using his fan brush, he begins to lay in hints of white clouds. He then works on the shadows in the clouds. To paint the shadows, he uses a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Rose and White. He is careful not to make the clouds appear too “breezy”, as this will be too busy and therefore compete with the subject matter in the foreground.
He now begins to work on the distant hills and trees using various mixtures of Yellow Ochre, White and a touch of blue to create a pale green. He will add touches of Burnt Umber in spots to create some variety. He makes his more distant objects paler and bluer. He adds darker colors behind the houses to make them stand out more. He makes certain that tree clusters that are near each other are different heights to make them look more realistic.
He paints in the most distant house with a similar color to the sky which will push it back into the distance further. The houses that are closer to the viewer are painted with a color that is a bit lighter. Don’t make them too bright otherwise they will jump out of the picture.
He now sets up three mixtures of colors using White, Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre. These three mixtures will vary in value from light to dark. He will use this to paint in the ground of the sea floor. He uses some of the sky color to block in the base color of the water. Paint your water in horizontal strokes to make it look flat and level.
With a mixture of Raw Sienna, Burn Umber and White, he paints in the rest of the exposed sea floor. These colors are only partially mixed as it creates variety and interest, darks and lights. He adds more details to the boat and adds the reflections in the water. He adds some other details like windows and chimneys on the houses. Then, using his palette knife, he adds some dark colors to the foreground. He lays this on quite thickly to give a sort of 3-d effect to the painting and give the illusion of rocks. Using a small round brush he paints in the small distant boats. He then adds in some other finishing details to the painting to bring everything together.