Demonstration of expressive painting with acrylic

Ali Cockrean

Ali started the evening by summarising her background and how she had become a professional painter. She started drawing as a child with some success, but somewhat surprisingly after A-levels left school and started a career in marketing and business while continuing to paint and draw as a background activity. She later went on some formal courses but found the traditional 'rules' too restrictive so branched out into the abstract world to enjoy more freedom of expression. After a successful one day exhibition she decided to go into painting as a full time career.

Ali used a large white dinner plate as a palette and mixed her colours with a palette knife. For this demonstration the colours used were; titanium white, burnt umber, prussian blue, red ochre, yellow ochre and phthalo turquoise. She then mixed several different shades of pale blue, (a litttle prussian blue mixed into white, with just a touch of burnt sienna, a cream (a little yellow ochre mised into white) and a sea colour ( phthalo turquoise mixed into white). The mixed colours were stored around the edge of the palette as little piles as the colors would dry out too quickly if spread too far and too thinly. This is much easier to do with a knife than a brush.

Ali the applied some paint to a canvas board. For this she took a small square of cloth, wrapped it round her index finger, folded over the end and gripped it with her thumb. With the cloth moistened she picked up a little paint with the tip of her finger and applied it directly to the board. She started with a sky colour then blocked in some cliffs, beach and sea.


The clouds were built up from multiple layers of thin colour applied with the same piece of cloth using short rapid gentle circular movements but importantly without lifting the fingertip from the board.


Some burnt umber was worked in for the dark clouds and white for the distant clouds on the horizon all with the same piece of cloth.
Detail in the clouds is shown below.


After the tea-break Ali adopted a different technique for applying the paint. Whereas the use of cloth to paint the clouds gave a smooth finish, a more textured finish would be more appropriate for the rocky headland. For this Ali used a palette knife to apply the paint. More colour was also applied to the sea and the beach using the knife.


Details of the rocks showing the textured finish.

Ali also uses synthetic pastel shapers to apply paint. Here she adds some touches to the clouds and adds some spray breaking on the rocks.

The finished demonstration

Altogether a most enjoyable demonstration after which Guild members will look at acrylics in a new light.