Acrylic Painting Lesson 5: Using the white of the canvas

The goal of the fifth lesson is to learn how to use the white of the canvas as an opaque color.

This lesson had another cartoon like example in the book for using the white of the canvas to paint a simple rowboat. 

I found a much more interesting photo associated with this Lone Star 12 boat video on YouTube. The exact image I used came up as a thumbnail of the video when I was searching for images.

I liked the idea of painting things reflected in the water. Instead of detailed tree branch reflections and clouds, I chose to make it look more leafy.

painting: boat and leaves reflected in water5 of 50 - Rowboat on the water 4/2/2018

Status: Not for sale yet

Ok, so I did attempt to make some cloud reflections, but it was not happening, so that was make back into water.


I used the round 5 and 8 brushes for this painting and stayed away from my fancy brush types.

I was also trying to make myself paint quickly in order to take a roast chicken out of the oven for lunch. Painting took slightly longer than I initially expected, but the chicken turned out just right.


I started with outlines like in the book, but I used unbleached titanium white since that's what I had left on my palette. Then I did the colors and textures inside the boat. Hooray for burnt sienna! Next I did the water and the shadows. Then I did the leaves around the edge, and I went over them with a little of my water color and some more white. Finally, I added a dark bank edge in the upper corner and tried to make the real leaves brighter.


When I took a watercolor class in college, I took naturally to the medium, but I remember a classmate who was by preference an acrylic painter. He couldn't help trying to use the watercolors like acrylic paint and often ended up with thick color blocks that looked more like gouache.

I have a feeling I am doing the same thing in reverse. I know I am trying to make the acrylics look and behave more like watercolors.

When today's painting was done, I thought, if this were a watercolor painting, I would do another layer of yellow ocher over the boat. And then I thought, why not? So I did, using the paint and some acrylic medium, and it did improve the tones a lot. 

Working Conditions

My young observer (age 5) was fairly good. She went off and played "Row, Row Your Boat" on the piano. She did invade my space at one point after asking to see my palette, which is fine when she asks first, but I was a little annoyed that she did not back out as fast as I would like when done or stop touching my arm. But this was all minor compared to our struggles before, much better!  

More to Explore

acrylic painting lessons
acrylic painting supplies
acrylic painting for beginners

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