To make prints of your painting, begin by scanning your small 8×10 inch canvas painting at 600 dpi. This will enable you to have enlarged sizes printed, like 11×14 inches or 16×20 inches. If your printer can manage larger paper up to 19 inches wide, you could scan a larger original. An 8×10 painting that has been scanned at 600 dpi can be converted into a 16×20 print at 300 dpi, the quality standard for printing for producing a clean, sharp reproduction.
After you have scanned your artwork, save the original scan as your “master copy.” Then use Photoshop, if needed, to fine-tune the levels a bit. For example, acrylic paints may reflect the scanner’s light, turning black into grey, so you can adjust the colors a bit darker to compensate for the fade. Once you have your adjusted 300 dpi version in PhotoShop, save it as a jpeg and a pdf (you never know which one a printer will require).
Some printers print with a laser printer so as to be of better quality, however, printing has come a long way. For example, for gallery quality reproductions I found this site online as one example that uses watercolor paper and a new type of inkjet printer for fine art. Some printers print on canvas paper as well. To sell or give your fine art as gifts, you can offer framed, matted or unmatted.
Acrylics are very versatile paints. They are fast-drying do not have the toxicity that oils have. They are used straight out of the tube and also can be thinned with water or a medium. Artists paint on paper, canvas and board with acrylics. Here are four simple tips to help you get nice results painting with acrylics.
Tip 1: Keep Your Colors Wet and Workable
Acrylics dry quite fast so squeeze out only small amounts of paint from the tubes onto your palette, adding more as needed. To keep the colors workable, be sure they stay wet. Use a recycled spray bottle to continually spray a fine mist over the paint on the palette to keep it moist. Otherwise, it will dry out and will not be usable. You can also mist your painting to keep the paint workable/wet.
Tip 2: Palette Paper
The best palettes are the paper, wax-coated sheets that come in a pad. Avoid the ones with the thumb holes as these are awkward to hold. Best to keep the palette on the on a table where you are working. If you cannot find this kind of palette paper in your local art supply store, you can also use kitchen waxed paper.
Tip 3: Clean the Brushes while Painting
It’s important to keep you brushes clean while working with acrylics. Keep two pieces of paper towel handy – one beside your water jar and another in the hand not holding the brush. Two good habits to develop are 1) with the first towel, squeeze extra paint off your brush before you rinse it – every time you rinse; and 2) whenever you rinse a brush, blot it on the second towel that is next to the water jar. These habits keep the water cleaner and the brushes cleaner so your colors won’t get muddy and gray on the palette from the brushes.
Tip 4: Glazing with Acrylics
Glazing is the term for applying a transparent and very thin layer of paint in oil painting and acrylics. Glazed layers are painted on top each another and each layer must be absolutely dry before the next is applied over it, preventing colors from mixing. This also allows the colors beneath to show through. While painting a glaze, spread the paint out thinly with the brush. The glazing technique is used build create depth as well as to modify colors in your painting.
The most important thing to remember about how to paint a landscape is that landscape painting is not just browns and greens. As you can see in the great landscape above by Dix Baines, landscape painting gives the artist an infinite variety of color mixing to accomplish the beauty of light and color. Here are some steps for how to paint a landscape:
1) PAINT A SKY by blending multiple colors together with a big brush: Examples:
- Blue sky – Ultramarine or Cerulean Blue mixed with white and a bit of Alizarin Crimson and Pthalo Green. Paint with or without clouds.
- Sunset sky – Orange, red, pink, purple, magenta.
- Night sky – Purple and dark blues such as Prussian Blue.
2) SKETCH MOUNTAINS – Use any slightly watered down color that shows up on your sky to paint a mountain range or just 1-2 mountains.
3) IF SKY IS DARK/NIGHTTIME – Paint the mountains a dark color and soften the bottom edge. They must be dry before doing Step 6.
4) LIGHT SOURCE – Decide where the light is coming from.
5) MIX MOUNTAIN COLOR
- With a palette knife, mix a lot of light color and then wipe the paint off the knife on the palette paper.
- Drag the painting knife horizontally through the paint to get a roll of paint on the bottom edge.
6) PAINT MOUNTAINS – Paint the light side of the mountains:
- Place the edge of the knife with the paint onto the edge of one of the mountains – on the side where the sun is shining (the light side).
- Drag the paint away from the edge of the mountain. IMPORTANT: Do not press the knife onto the canvas. Be SURE to let the dark color of the mountain show through to create texture and the illusion of dimension on the mountains. (We call this “holding the darks.”)
- Next, lightly move the knife around to create a rocky texture on the light.
7) PAINT THE GROUND – With a large brush, paint your colors on the ground and blend them so there are no hard edges anywhere:
- If your sky is nighttime, paint the ground with very dark colors. Example: Mix Alizarin Crimson with greens to make dark greens.
- If your sky is daytime sky, mix blues and yellows with greens and a little white to make lighter greens.
- For a desert or fall colors ground, use browns, reds and burnt sienna with yellow and white and a bit of blue for a desert feel
8) PAINT THE TREE TRUNKS – Begin with roots and paint up the trunk and out the branches. We call this “growing the tree.”
- Place trees that are farther away higher up and make them smaller.
- Paint the bark texture – lighter on the side where the light is coming from.
9) PAINT THE TREE TOPS
- With very dark green (i.e., mix Alizarin Crimson and Viridian Green together for a blackish green) dab bunches of leafy areas onto your trees.
- With “middle” tone green (not dark, not light) dab leafy bunches on the light side of the trees, on top of the dark green from previous step. IMPORTANT: Use a LIGHT TOUCH! Let a lot of the dark green color show through!
- Use very light green mix to dab in the areas where the sun is touching the leaves. IMPORTANT: Allow dark and middle toned greens to show through.
10) FINAL TOUCHES
- For a bank of trees (or forest) at the base of the mountains, no details should be visible; only paint some texture to represent a tree area.
- Paint shadows for mountains and trees. Be sure to soften the edges of the shadows.
- Paint texture on the ground for grass, flowers, bushes, etc. Example: Use a fan brush to paint grass, using smaller and smaller strokes the farther back in the distance they are.