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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Struggles in the Sourthwest", 24" X 34" gallery wrapped fluid acrylic on paper

Struggles in the Southwest by April M. Rimpo
You may remember my June blog post called Pouring Paint, about a workshop I had taken from Linda Baker.  During that workshop I painted Harder Times which was a close up of one grave in Mission Tumacácori.  I designed Struggles in the Southwest earlier but decided it was too much to tackle in a workshop and went with the simpler version. I visited Mission Tumacácori sometime in the 1980s as part of my explorations of Arizona. After moving to Arizona in 1980, my husband and I continued to explore many National sites with Indian ruins during our 17 years in the state.  One of my interests, in fact my initial major in college, was archaeology, so visiting these sites allowed me to catch a glimpse of the past.  To learn more about this Mission visit the National Park Service site.

Like Harder Times this painting was poured, but with fluid acrylic instead of watercolor. Below are a few images showing steps in creating this painting.

Value Sketch
I generally start each painting with a drawing of the outlines of the shapes in the painting, but this one was complex enough that I decided to do a value sketch. The purpose of a value sketch is to work out the darks, mid-value, and lights in the painting. I admit I went beyond a value sketch and toward a much more complete drawing. However this was done on tracing paper to allow me to more easily transfer the drawing to watercolor paper.

The image at right shows the result of the first pouring of acrylic paint.  The acrylic was poured after I transferred the drawing, then masked areas I wanted to keep white. The first pouring uses the lightest colors in the painting, filling the role of the lightest mid-tone.  To accomplish this with acrylic, the pigments are very diluted with water.

When the first layer dries, more masking fluid is added to some areas where I want the lightest mid-tone.  A second pouring is done that has nearly the same amount of water mixed with the paint. Since it is on top of the first layer of color, it looks darker.  I added more blues to the second pour allowing them to mix with the Quinacridone Coral pigment to create lovely lavender shades in areas where there are shadows.

In this third process photograph I have added a few darker areas and, when the paint dried, I removed the masking.  

Notice the golden tan stripe along the left edge.  After I gallery wrap the painting over a stretcher frame, the stripe will be on the edge of the painting. Sometimes I run the image around the edge and sometimes I use color stripes.

This last photo was taken after several touch-up sessions. A variety of dark colors is added in the darkest shadows under the rocks and more color to the crosses. A great deal of work was done on the rocks to blend some of the dark edges and to emphasize the twigs and grasses in the sand around the stones.

There was a small amount of additional touch-up to finish the painting after this image was taken.  The finished painting in the top image shows just the front of the painting after gallery wrapping. 


  1. Beautiful work
    Thank you for the explanation of the process

    1. It always means a lot when a fellow artist likes my work. I few people have asked me to share my process more often, so stay tuned for more of this.

  2. Hi April, I meant to leave a comment here after seeing this on your Facebook post. I remember the original watercolor poured painting...initially thought this was the same one, but see that this is larger and the pours were with acrylic. I know you put a lot of work into this one and it shows. I was struck by your use of Quinacridone Coral...good choice. Great painting...thanks for sharing your process.

    1. Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Coral is one of the few watercolor pigments that I have not found a substitute in acrylic that combines so beautifully with just about any blue pigment to great great violets to purples. So I mix the watercolor paint with satin acrylic medium to make my own acrylic, which I dilute heavily to make it the consistency of fluid acrylic. I just love this pigment.

    2. Thanks for replying and for the tips April. I do have this pigment, but never thought of using as you did. It is a beautiful color. I will try using it with the blues. I would have never thought of mixing the watercolor with an acrylic medium, but then why not, they're all water soluble.

  3. April! I just love your work. Your subjects are varied and your experimental approach to achieving color and texture is exciting. Thank you for sharing these with us.

    1. Thank you, Donna. I do enjoy experimenting. It keeps things exciting for me. By the way I loved your Cactus painting.


I look forward to hearing from you. - April

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