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How Real Magic Gets On Canvas

Acrylic Paint Brushes, Layers & More Get You to the Sweet Spot

Neighborhood scenes have been the main focus of Nina Davidowitz’s artwork for nearly 15 years. “I’m fascinated with the geometric shapes of houses and buildings contrasted with their natural surroundings—shrubs, lawns and woods,” she says. “Sometimes nature is also geometric, as when we “sculpt” our shrubs.”

Davidowitz starts her paintings by sketching the composition onto the canvas in pencil. “I then proceed around the painting. I fill in areas of color one by one, starting with the sections that are the most interesting. With Summer Haze, I began with the shrubs. I usually establish the areas of darker value and then the lighter value areas. It sets up parameters for the middle values. I believe that it’s in the middle-value range where real magic can happen.

How to Layer…and Layer…and Layer

“The first layers of paint I apply are rather thin and watery. I add more thin layers of paint as I continue to move around the painting, adjusting colors and values to my liking. I prefer the look of smooth brushstrokes and saturated color. That means each area of the painting receives at least 4—and sometimes as many as 12—coats of paint. As the layers of paint accumulate, the colors become almost luminescent.”

Go-to Materials Including Acrylic Paint Brushes

Round brushes are my favorite; I rarely use any other type. My favorite paints are Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics.

I use a very limited color palette: two blues (ultramarine blue, phthalocyanine blue); two reds (cadmium red medium, naphthol crimson); one yellow (cadmium yellow medium); one green (Hooker’s green); and titanium white. Occasionally I may add one or two additional colors, but prefer to keep it very simple. That way, if I run out of a particular color mix, it’s easy to make more.