Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Lucy McCann | Colour In Your Life


G’day, folks. Well over the years we have filmed hundreds of incredibly talented people across the world. Many of these artists have gone on to produce their own videos as well. We hope you enjoy this great lesson from one of our Colour In Your Life artists. Hi everyone. My name is Lucy McCann. The reason I paint is to tell a story. I grew up on the land and have a great respect for it. I love the light, and especially the shadows at the different times of the day. Packing the van and heading on a trip is good for my soul. Seeing new and wonderful things inspires me to paint. I love our country; the diversity of the land and the sea, the colours and the ancient history. And I take every opportunity to record this. After a trip to the north-west Kimberly region of Western Australia, and seeing the beautiful rock paintings – their elegance, elongation and spirit, they have influenced my paintings. The Gwion Gwion rock art, or Bradshaw’s as some know them claim to be the oldest figurative art in the world. How amazing. I must admit the walk in was worth every step and I felt privileged to see them. This is another special place for me. It’s where our family had their annual holidays. It’s a happy and spiritual place. I really love the salty air; I love the sound of the waves. And if we get seagulls flying that would be wonderful as well. Light, thank goodness for the light; without light we have nothing. It gives me – when I’m looking at something, the form, the atmosphere, and the mood. Look at the light that we’ve got today – fantastic. Those shadows remind me of those beautiful rock paintings. So lets add my ideas that the spiritual dancing figures, the seagulls, and the traditional all into one painting. Can’t wait. Rhythm of the sea, taking flight, what a great name for a painting. I asked some children and their mother if they were willing to be in my painting, and I explained my ideas and showed them what I needed them to do. How to dress, what colours the outfits were, and what would work with my painting. I’m aware of the direction of the sun, and make sure it’s consistent light throughout the photo shoot. This is always vital when adding different photos together. It must be the same direction of light. Make sure all the shadows are going the same way. Welcome to our studio. I trained in dress design at college, and design my paintings using a dress makers code. The principles of good dress design in an outfit should have proportion, balence, harmony, enfaces and rhythm. This is one of my books from college, and the figures here you can see are slightly elongated, and I’m sure it influences my work. So we did a lot of work with figures; we did a lot of work putting clothes on figures, and we did a lot of work doing boarders. I do a lot of boarders now, I put them around my paintings. And let’s get started. So I’m actually stapling my canvas to my board. So I’ve measured fifty ml onto my canvas, and I need that measurement around the width of my painting for the framer to be able to stretch my canvas onto a frame when I’ve finished my painting. I also rule a seventy ml boarder for the width of the roller. Using a base photo and the images in my head I draw the headland, sea and rocks. This gives me an indication of the placement of these items. Okay, I think that’s quite good. That’ll be fine. Good starting point. I use a palette knife to mix a tone for the sky into the container that the roller came in. I then add acrylic painting medium to help the flow of the paint for the rolling process. I continue to make the mixes in the same container one after the other. This gives the painting harmony. Into the same container I mix a tone for the sea and again, add the painting medium. Using painting medium which is in my paint now helps the flow of the pigment. I like the look it gives, it gives a nice free form feel. And you can turn your board and have any direction of the flow of where you want your pigment to go. You can use a roller or a big brush, so long as you load it up and have enough medium in it, it will flow happily where ever you direct it. Okay, I’m going to drag my brush through some of this thicker paint, just so all my lines aren’t going in one direction. The sea is not like that, we get a broken – a few bits of broken movement with the swirl of it. And I’d also like to do a little bit of splattering to get the foam of the waves actually breaking some of the harder lines. It’s lovely in an area where it’s dark. Once again using the container that my roller came in, I mix the colour I require, adding enough painting medium to allow me to roll a boarder. This is placed between the fifty ml and the seventy ml pencil lines that I had originally ruled. I roll with a very light touch, leaving areas of the background area to show through. When this boarder is dry I place the A-four reference onto the canvas with Blu Tack to work out the composition and the size. I use three pastel pencils: a cool and a warm and white. I draw marks to give me hight, width and any corrections using these three colours, just as I would if I was making a dress pattern. From these coloured marks I draw a detailed drawing of the seagulls and their shadows. While I’m drawing, a line means a change in value, colour, shape and edge. And I take my time with the drawing to get a likeness. I need a likeness of the seagulls and their shadows, and each shape is very important to getting this likeness. These seagulls and their shadows represent the reality part of my painting. Acrylic paints are fast drying. I control this drying time by mixing my main three mid tones, like an oiliest with a super retarder. This retarder should be added to the paint at a ratio of two to one. This slows down the drying time and my paint remains open for the whole painting. So now I’ve got my three tonnes mixed, I’m just going to put a little bit of them onto my main palette, to be able to use all day, or how ever long I’m painting. And these will remain damp and moist for the whole time, because I’ve got the super retarder in them. Now we’re going to put the main palette of my tones into what is called a stay-wet palette. It has a damp cloth in it, and I like to drop a drop of clover oil into that to stop any mould, and I pop my tones in there. Make sure the lid is completely clicked on, and that will remain damp and usable for weeks. I also like to put some retarder in my spray bottle, depending on the climate you’re in, depends how fast your paint will dry out on your palette. So this little water bottle is ten parts water and one part retarder. And then just give it a shake and we’re ready to start painting. I’ve chosen the best quality acrylic paint. It’s in a well respected brand that works for me and the way I paint. It must be heavily pigmented and have minimal colour shift from wet to dry. Acrylic paint is non-toxic, has no smell and cleans up in cool water. I’ve been told that acrylic paint is forgiving, however I think knowing your subject and having a plan is always advisable. I’m very aware that the surrounding environment will have an influence of warms and cools on the seagulls. For instance the wings will have an influence from the sky, and the underside of the seagulls will have a warmer tone from the sand. Shadows will be lighter and cooler in the distance, and warmer and darker in the foreground. I use the shadows of the figures rather than the figures themselves to get the shapes for my dancing figures. I’d like to talk about filbert brushes. I use two. I find their mark making extremely versatile. The first one is a Toperquil made by Da Vinci. It’s shorter and fatter in the hair, and takes a lot of punishment. The second one is also made by Da Vinci, it’s a golden nylon, but it comes to the most beautiful point for calligraphy and mark making. These dancing figures represent the spiritual part of my painting, so they can be intuitive and more free form. I am so, so lucky to share a studio with artist, Barry McCann, and his passion and knowledge of art, and photography are invaluable to me. I like to write the title of the painting on my work along with a number, and this identifies how many there are in the series. I add some calligraphy marks for balance that are random and unjoined. And the signing part is part of this design. All my brushes get a though a wash out with Eco brush cleaner in cold water, reshaped and left to dry on a brush holder. It’s not a bad idea to distance yourself from your painting, so taking a photo on your phone is one way to do this. This is the time for any adjustments. In this painting I feel it needs some small figures in the background. I would like to adjust the shadows for the foreground rocks, and remove that rock that looks like a wing in the main seagull. My experiences, my memories, and my feelings have all come together in this story of reality, spirits and shadows. We would love any comments, or feedback, and our website is www McCann fine art dot net dot au. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram. Please look us up. Thanks so much for talking the time to watch my show. I hope you’ve been inspired to pick up a brush, or a roller, and put some colour in your life. Bye for now.

100 comments

  • Miz Judgie

    So inspiring. Thanks for sharing your inspiration and technique

    Reply
  • Maria Moss

    Thanks for sharing this great painting. This is the first acrylic painting of yours that I have seen- loved all the details given during the painting, with the different techniques. I’m locking it away in my memory bank for later use!😀 👍

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  • Marion Chapman Artist

    Superb!

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  • Susan Wong

    This is beautiful.

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  • alex john

    Amazing work. It was a great experience with you

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  • mariojulien001

    Great Great Great !!!
    Thank you !

    Reply
  • Robina Anstey

    Beautiful work Lucy. Do you mind telling us what brand of paint you use?

    Reply
  • Joe Nada

    Such a joyful style. Lovely work!

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  • Maysoon AlDooriaines

    What a feast for the eye to watch this magnificent work. Thank you for sharing

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  • Maysoon AlDooriaines

    What make are your brushes please can you put the details of sizes and shapes

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  • B Clark

    Lovely…great tutorial!

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  • linda lopez

    Oh my goodness…how beautiful!!

    Reply
  • cora kiceniuk

    Lol, for a moment, I am thinking how is she painting while driving. Of course it’s an American, wondering. Never like acrylic, always oil. Since I had an injury that’s limiting my getting out, I’m going to give it a try again.

    Reply
  • cora kiceniuk

    Ps, WOW TO THE SEASCAPE.

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  • Jenny Guidry

    Just wonderful! Your spirit truly shines through in your creations! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Antonia Castanon Merino

    🙌🏼✨

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  • Hye Archuleta

    Wow!! Bring a teal to my eyes, how fake I am trying to pretend I can paint Beautiful work and soul

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  • Patricia Orozco

    JUST WONDERFULL.ALL MY TASTE . Gracias

    Reply
  • Anamika Paul

    Thank you for sharing 🙂 I learned a lot through this video..God bless you.

    Reply
  • Darrell Anderson

    Very nice. I like the mix of reality and , hmmmm, fantasy(?) in the figures. Terrific explanation of your process. I also have to comment about your painting in nice clothes and not getting a drop on yourself or your clothes. I’ll be viewing this vid several more times. Thank you for your effort.

    Reply
  • Charley Wang

    简直像魔法一样完美,画面很亮,很有阳光感,鸟的背光部画的特别好,我喜欢这样的画,我也经常去墨尔本海边去画并拍成视频,只是,我画的是水彩,并且只有A4大小的规格。

    Reply
  • Dorrie Shust

    Absolutely stunning painting! I love the theme and the story behind it. You've got a God-given talent, Lucy. I will keep learning and practicing. Beautiful work! God bless you for sharing with us.

    Reply
  • Joanna Batherson

    Lucy, what a delightful and fact filling video. Thanks for sharing your beautiful painting and techniques!

    Reply
  • Pippa Davies

    wonderful you are very talented artist wonderful color in your country UK not so bright wonderful Pippa xxx

    Reply
  • Ekaterina Plekhanova

    😍👍👏👏👏👏👏👏

    Reply
  • IRENE LAYCOCK

    Beautiful!!

    Reply
  • Christina P

    PLEASE INTERVIEW BEN HOWE , MELBOURNE BASED ARTIST! INSTAGRAM @BENHOWEART. HE IS INCREDIBLE!!! WORTH CHECKING OUT!!!

    Reply
  • KantraScepter

    lol

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  • Chrissy Westbrook Rinaudo

    <3

    Reply
  • sasmita panigrahi

    Thank you for sharing, great learning.lots of love.

    Reply
  • Joanna Osborne

    So beautiful. Very interesting way at looking how you put together a composition. Thank you.

    Reply
  • lucylou353

    Beautiful work

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  • Tim Brown

    You are Awesome! Thank you for sharing.

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  • chandra carol

    Wow I just watching your process I would love to with painting I would enjoy looking at it for years .
    But I also learned from you I from you too
    I have a night photo of Paris I'm decopoging to a large canvas that had City scape on it already something had spilled on the canvas that's were I will be gluing Paris to I have repainted the canvas to match the Paris night sky that is in pink tones I did a good job I can't tell were the photo sky line is to what I wanted
    Thank you for your art and beauty . Have a great day
    chandra

    Reply
  • luis faria

    Love it

    Reply
  • christine wilde

    Thank you. loved watching the journey. x

    Reply
  • mohd khader

    Thanks Hyd India

    Reply
  • Geno Bourn

    Outstanding!

    Reply
  • Andrea Gaye Scott Westfall

    The painting is absolutely inspiring and I thank you for sharing your passion for painting… there's nothing better in the world… than… human expression and emotion displayed by the artwork of your hands 👐 on canvas… and with a result like yours!!!??? GOODNESS ME OH MY!!!

    Reply
  • Terry Ernest

    Wow! … that's a new way of working … wonderful artist ! … not sure about the figures though 🙂

    Reply
  • Atelier d'art des Rapides

    Exquisite and delightful – Bravo!

    Reply
  • Juanjo Castro Carmona

    Me encanta tu estilo, gracias porque es un regalo para mis ojos

    Reply
  • Maria Salis

    ❤❤❤❤❤❤😍

    Reply
  • Amanda

    Amazing

    Reply
  • A Mel

    I'm very curious about your support. It looks like you staple canvas to plywood and then…? Put a frame around the edge of the plywood? Thanks for the wonderful tutorial! Loved it and love your work.

    Reply
  • Truly Lynn

    I love that you use a brayer. I use on e with the grandchildren with rubber stamp art. I'm going to use your technic on a large flower I am working on. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  • ramesh patel

    very nice work

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  • Davida G

    Lovely work,thank you

    Reply
  • Di W

    how lovely very spiritual I thought you spoilt it with the figures but when you finished I loved it.  
    happy and colourful thank you

    Reply
  • Елена Петрова

    человечки явно лишние

    Reply
  • Chris Newton

    Very interesting video. (You need to "normalise the sound") But I was surprised that Lucy stapled her canvas to a board instead of having a frame right from the start. However that's just me.

    I was curious to discover the brand name of the "super retarder" she mentioned. Personally the fast drying time of acrylics is a constant nuisance to me. I live here in Thailand and it's 90 degrees every day of the year. Just the other day I tried to buy acrylic retarder, but couldn't find any in any of the shops. Eventually I've tried "hair gel" Yes, just ordinary hair gel. Not too much, just as an experiment at first, but it seems OK. It definitely slows down the drying time, so you can cover half a square foot without the usual lifting and tackiness.

    The paint manufacturer who has enough sense to market their paint with retarder already in it will make a fortune and put all his competitors out of business. I do have a wet pallet, and that does work OK. It's just when I've got the paint on the brush and when the paint's on the canvas that it drys too quickly. I need to keep rinsing the brush to remove the paint in the brush that's refuses to flow off the brush onto the canvas

    So, could you please tell me the brand name of the "super retarder" and I'll definitely try it
    I'm not totally sold on the hair gel solution yet. It's early days but I like to do things properly
    In closing I thought Lucy's finished painting was excellent.

    I've lived by the sea here in Thailand now for nearly 20 years and I love it. But we don't have even one seagull. We have pigeons and minor birds but no seagulls. Mind you I'm not complaining they do make a mess

    Anyway thanks for the video and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future

    Kind regards – Chris Newton – in Thailand WWW.100Temptations.com

    Reply
  • Tania Pushkina

    It was so beutiful before the people coming! 🙂

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  • Cynthia Gladstone

    Beautiful & fun.

    Reply
  • collagen collagen

    How beautiful you love you

    Reply
  • Mikersson

    Excellent Job Lucy! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Susan Harrison-Tustain

    A wonderful insight into a master artist's thoughts, inspiration, methods and philosophy! Well done Lucy – a superb painting with wonderful artistic license. I can see your dance and your song in this beautifully evocative painting. Excellent filming and editing Barry! What a fabulous team you and Barry are! Congratulations!

    Reply
  • Sima abedini

    Just incredible 👏👏👏👏👏👏

    Reply
  • JAMES SHERRIFF

    Love the sries, has anyone noticed the preponderance of laf handers ?

    Reply
  • Victoria Lohn

    Beautiful painting!

    Reply
  • Big Worm

    Nice work, i would've left the humans out tho.

    Reply
  • Art By Kathy Cappadona Jenkins

    Hi beautiful work. What did you put your paint on inside your stay dry palette? It was not the stay dry paper. Looked like plastic.

    Reply
  • artbiz

    Everything was great until the cartoons at the end

    Reply
  • Jo Standaar

    lovely work Lucy…. thanks for sharing your techniques and love of painting… x

    Reply
  • mike wilber

    More drugs,pls……😂

    Reply
  • mike wilber

    Lights,shades,tones,values,….contrast….

    Reply
  • Stanislav Gajdoš

    wunderschön!!! Super

    Reply
  • Irlynda

    Stunning, heartfelt and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your time and talents with us.

    Reply
  • Ayla Stargazer

    awesome

    Reply
  • Vincent Sanders

    Wow! I am happy to have found you . I look forward to seeing more. <3

    Reply
  • Pat Morton

    Lucy, thank you for such a wonderful tutorial. It has inspired me to use a much larger canvas than I have ever tried before. Loved watching you paint the seagulls.

    Reply
  • BK ART Gallery

    Super

    Reply
  • Michael Wills Art

    so sick!

    Reply
  • SuperTruten

    Kapitalne obrazy!!

    Reply
  • Barbara McLean

    Wonderful painting! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Stephanie Grace

    Keep painting Lucy, you have a beautiful soul!!

    Reply
  • Ellie Andrews

    WOW!!!
    Loved everything about this painting and you.
    Thank you

    Reply
  • Julie Bittinger

    Indeed a feast for the eyes and heart to watch you develop your subjects and paint. Thank you. Your style and techniques are new to me🌺

    Reply
  • Mariane Blanchot

    Wonderful demonstration and beautiful painting!

    Reply
  • Edward Kennedy

    Have you ever wondered what it's like to pose nude for an artist? Watch the trailer for the new life modelling documentary NAKED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8QIR2HIDvo&t=11s

    Reply
  • Sophie Reynolds

    What a breath taking painting!! Your spiritual figures gave it such an amazing dimension. Thank you for sharing with us!! Great tips also!

    Reply
  • Bill Gavin

    Beautiful person place and painting. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Benjamin Heffernan

    Love you 2 people. One of my dreams is to come and do one or maybe 2 of your workshops one day.

    Reply
  • Florisabel Castillo

    I absolutely love this!!! Thank you for sharing all your wonderful techniques

    Reply
  • Artwork Ranaji

    Awesome work 👏

    Reply
  • Tom B

    The dancing figures ruined and otherwise great painting!

    Reply
  • Alison Wünderland

    Great painting killed by those stick figures

    Reply
  • JAsisterti

    wow, so great to watch, thank you!

    Reply
  • minky hughes

    Perfect thanks for taking me to embark on my own flight, within this beautiful painting xx

    Reply
  • AROUND makeTV

    You are great mam🙏 dil se aap ko salute

    Reply
  • AROUND makeTV

    Nice painting

    Reply
  • AROUND makeTV

    https://youtu.be/kkgP-r38ar0

    Reply
  • suzycraven

    What a wonderful 25 mins watching this video. Truly inspiring. Love the finished painting.

    Reply
  • Leese S.

    Love this episode and love seeing Ms. Lucy McCann again on this show. It’s so inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Drumaier J

    I can't relate to this approach/style of mixing a realistic painting with sticky figures, it feels off to me and i just don't like it. BUT, i can relate to the artistic need to do whatever one feels like doing (weird characters and abstractions in my case for example ), without especulating if is something people in general will understand or care about. A true artist express what he or she feels has to express regardless of external opinions.

    Reply
  • Mariam Aragones Just

    Muchas gracias Lucy!!me ha transmitido sensacion de alegria y libertad su video,gracias por compartir,saludos!!😍

    Reply
  • Mike

    I love your painting technique Lucy, just wonderful – I'm so envious.. I'm a very amature artest born with Cerebral Palsy, so my hand is quite unsteady with most brushes. I'm a country boy and love the nature, and paint at CS. Art, a studio for artists with disabilities. Most of my paintings are either seascapes or landscapes, so no need for straight lines. You inspire me Lucy and I've picked up some great ideas from your painting, especially the way you use a roller…… Take care – Mike from South NZ 😊

    Reply
  • Linda Moore

    Outstanding!! The painting is beautifully done and I love your story. Thank you for sharing. I am inspired.

    Reply
  • Debra Srnek

    It’s sad to read the complaints about the stick figures. Sure landscapes are stunning to the eye; however, adding even a hint of life beyond the background expresses movement in time.

    Reply
  • mariusart gouws

    AS AN ARTIST MYSELF I HAVE TO SAY THE PEOPLE RUINED THE PAINTING.OTHER THAN THAT IT'S A MASTER PIECE OF ART.LUCY IS A MASTER WHEN IT COMES TO PAINTING BIRDS….PLEASE DON'T BE OFFENDED LADY.YOU ARE SUCH A WONDERFUL PERSON…I LOVE THE BIRDS…IT'S JUST MY HONEST OPINNION

    Reply
  • mariusart gouws

    I THINK I'M ABOUT TO CHANGE MY MIND….VERY NICE PAINTING INDEED STUNNING

    Reply

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