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Thursday, April 18, 2019

"Making Tortillas" fluid acrylic & watercolor 30" X 19"

Making Tortilla by April M Rimpo
Making Tortillas 
acrylic & watercolor
30" X 19" image
Mounted and varnished this painting arrives in a 33" X 22" frame


  • One of 115 paintings selectd for the Missouri Watercolor Society's 2019 International Exhibition. - See Mike Bailey's Juror's Statement at the end of the post.
  • One of 59 paintings selected for the Illinois Watercolor Society's 33rd National Exhibition 2017.
  • Selected for the Laurel Art Guild Open 2016
  • First Place Award in the Artist's Gallery of Columbia "Color Columbia" exhibition 2015
I have wanted to paint Making Tortillas ever since I returned from Guatemala in 2008. I have considered different color schemes; different focal points; different cropping of my source photographs, but none of the designs satisfied me. Recently I decided to try a different approach to the scene, cropped in closer and using a much more limited color palette.  It was the happiness of this woman and the gesture of her hands as she went about making her tortillas that I decided was the focus.  The beautiful reflected colors in the table top, which had been a distraction in earlier designs, were really not important.  It was the sense of joy she communicated with her expression that really mattered, so what more did I need?  Sometimes finding that quality that drew you to take the photograph is harder to find than you would expect.  Details that you may not have noticed when you took the photograph start to get in the way of that original inspiration.
For the artists in my audience, I started this painting by masking off much of the woman, the white areas, all the orange and red areas, and the light blue fabrics in the baskets. Then I poured on very wet washes of DaVinci fluid acrylic paint, tilted the paper to let the colors run and mix, added some granular light colored watercolor pigments to add interesting swirls and granular patterns, then let the paint dry.  I almost never use a heat gun or drier since I feel the colors are not as vibrant when I use these.

Most of the painting was done using fluid acrylic and small amounts of granular watercolors.  Exceptions were the red flower on her shirt and the orange/red corn in the basket.  I wanted these to be very vibrant.  I find when I use straight acrylic pigments for reds they seem a bit dull, while watercolor reds seem to almost glow. So after establishing some blues where the dark shadows would be, I applied an orange watercolor pigment to create the underlying color. When the watercolor was nearly dry I added some Alizarin crimson acrylic to create darker red passages.  A number of thin washes of Alizarin and some Quinacridone burnt orange were layered over the orange watercolor to create a variety of red shades. Blues and purples were used in the shadow areas and an Alizarin layer was added on top to add definition to the corn. Throughout the piece I repeated the same colors in different combinations and strengths so the painting holds together.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Making Tortillas and your experience with finding and expressing the essence of a photograph that seemed so right at the time, but continue to elude you when you want to express it in your art.

Mike Bailey's Juror's statement: 
Missouri Watercolor Society 2019 International Exhibition I offer greetings and congratulations to all the artists who entered this prestigious exhibition. It is indeed an honor to have been chosen to select and judge this show! I must say, however, that it was a daunting task to select the best pieces from such a large body of outstanding paintings. It truly was, at times, a ‘hair pulling’ decision making process! Most everyone asks about selection criteria and the reasoning behind the choices. I am a design “nerd !” Design is always the driving first thing which presses me to include or exclude any painting into, or out of, an exhibition. Content, or message, or story in a painting will set me thinking in ways that a simply “beautiful” painting would not. The message is very important. There is an overriding condition, which appears in a few paintings, which holds enormous power . . .and that is creativity. This aspect shows how the artist thinks and exposes the artist’s audacity, authenticity and freedom. It, therefore, carries a lot of weight. . . .at times as much, or more, than content. Lastly, expert technique counts for little. That is to say that a well designed painting that exhibits strong content and / or exemplary creativity will win out over poor technique. As an aside, I must admit to sometimes allowing personal taste to enter into the above reasons for judgment. While I try to prevent taste from entering the decision making, my humanness may, at times, unexplainably enter into the final reasoning. To those artists who did not make the cut, you have my sincere empathy while I encourage you to continue reaching for higher levels of artistic achievement. I know rejection can be painful. It can also be the stimulus needed to advance aesthetically. So, press onward and continue entering; it is very much worth your efforts! 
Sincerely, M.E. “Mike” Bailey, AWS / NWS

Contact April regarding purchase outside the United States

More of my paintings of Guatemala can be found by clicking on the titles listed below:
Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

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I look forward to hearing from you. - April

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