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Featured Artist: Ken Muenzenmayer

New Doors Open for Acrylic Paint

I’ve spent twenty-five years painting with acrylics on canvas and other gessoed surfaces. Three years ago, however, I discovered an entire new approach to acrylics when I found Ampersand’s White Pastelbord. This new surface allows me to expand the already versatile medium of acrylic paint.

Step 1: Starting with Washes

When I begin a painting, I first lay in washes of color. This establishes my composition, values and palette for the painting. I prefer not to use acrylic mediums with the acrylics because I've found I can achieve my desired paint density by mixing my paint with water alone. This use of pure paint gives me pure clear color and a rich surface texture that can get lost by mixing in too much medium. With Pastelbord, the pigment is absorbed deeper into its clay surface than on a traditional gessoed surface. This allows more resonant color and also keeps my washes wet much longer, permitting me to achieve the wet on wet effect of watercolors with my acrylics! This technique allows me to retain clear concentrated color.

Step 2: Using Dry Brush Techniques

After I lay in my washes, I have to decide what to use as underpainting for my dry brush techniques and what to leave untouched as part of the finished painting. Pastelbord plays an important part in this stage of my painting process because the sandy surface tends to grab the brush more which shortens my strokes and pulls off more paint than I am accustomed to. At first, I was not sure how to deal with this because my past painting surfaces lent themselves more to blending rather than leaving an active brush stroke. By using shorter brush strokes, I am able to bring more life into my paintings.

Step 3: Layering Color

Pastelbord’s clay surface helps me achieve a richness of color not found in other surfaces I’ve worked with in the past. I begin layering complimentary colors of similar value and allow much of the underpainting to show through. I alternate layers of washes and drybrush to establish the continuity of colors. In this painting, I used Quinacridone Gold to unify and smooth the layers of washes.

Step 4: Blending the Final Stages

By not totally covering the Pastelbord with an opaque layer of paint, the final washes continue to absorb into the board and tone the other layers of paint. I continue this process until all the colors get along. The fracturing of the dry brush technique and the unifying effect of the glazing creates a visual blending and luminous depth of color. Using this process as a starting point, I allow my emotions to take over, just as a musician draws from his technical ability to improvise in the hopes of creating a resonant and provocative effect. I encourage you to try using your acrylics with the white Pastelbord and see what doors open up for you.

For more information about Ken Muenzenmayer, please visithttp://www.muenzenmayer.com/.