The Art of Painting in Acrylic

Darice Machel McGuire lives on the beautiful island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. She is an artist, an painting instructor and co-author of "The Art of Painting in Acrylic" book published by Walter Foster. We have conducted an interview with her.

Darice Machel McGuire

What kind of fine arts painting do you teach in your art school?
Art E Studio is a dedicated art school focusing on teaching children and adults the fine art of oil and acrylic painting. My students learn the basic process of creating a painting. I help each student achieve their goals and encourage them to expand their skills by trying new techniques and styles such as realism, impressionism, surrealism and once in awhile abstract.

What is your background in art?
I had a great art education. My parents owned an art gallery in Kings Beach, a town on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe for 36 years. The gallery had an art supply store, frame shop and classroom. My mom taught art classes and my dad did the framing. Mom was my first oil painting teacher and dad taught me how to frame. Growing up in the business was pretty natural for me. The education I received was more valuable then going to an art school. From May through October each year we had weekly workshops with many very talented instructors. I learned many styles and techniques that I now pass on to my students. I have an extensive knowledge of art supplies and framing as well. Having the opportunity to try as many mediums as I wanted such as clay, watercolor, acrylic, oil paints, drawing, jewelry making, sculpture, and glass etching ( just to name a few), has allowed me to really explore my creative side.

What kind of subject/composition do you usually like to paint?
My main body of work is realism. My main subjects are landscapes and seascapes. However, I also love to explore other styles and techniques. I allow myself the freedom to play and create like a child. This helps me to keep an open mind to new possibilities and new creations. I get great joy from my play time because what ever the outcome I know it comes from my inner child and not my adult self. I try to not take myself to seriously.

Do you always paint sea creatures and animals like this? It's really beautiful!
Thank you. I enjoy painting realism, which is the style of this painting. It's fun and challenging. I strive to get as close to a realistic look of the animal as I can. I also enjoy painting animals in a more naive style. Such as this one:

How long did it take to co-author the book, The Art of Painting in Acrylic published by Walter Foster?
Walter Foster publishing made the process of writing "The Art of Painting in Acrylic" very simple. They are an art publishing company that has been around since 1922. Their staff had an outline and deadline for us to follow. There are six artist represented in the book. I have four "step-by-step" landscape paintings of my beautiful Maui island. Walter Foster Publishing contacted me in November 2013 and by mid Feb 2014 I was done with my portion of the project.

Walter Foster books were a daily part of my life growing up and through my adult life. There was a prominent wall in the art supply room of my parents gallery dedicated to Walter Foster "Step - By - Step" books. I loved looking at them and reading the many techniques they offered. My mom often used them as teaching tools for her many students. When I opened my own art school, I started to refer to my collection of Walter Foster books whenever I needed good visuals and explanations on how to do a particular technique. I have amassed quite a collection. Every time I come across one of the older ones at a yard sale or used book store I buy it. One special W/F book I have in my collection is "32 Lessons in Oil Painting" by Bela Bodo. Bela was one of the instructors at mom's gallery. He became a close family friend. Sometimes I would babysit his daughter while he taught a workshop. His book has been out of print for a long time now.

One of the biggest highlights I've had in my life was calling my mom to tell her I was going to be published with Walter Foster.

What is your approach with someone who is learning to paint but is unable to grasp the lighting and shadows concepts/perspectives in painting?
Understanding where the light source is coming from is a key element to painting visually pleasing paintings. It's hard at first for beginner students to learn. The concept is something they've never had to think about. One approach I teach them is to take a flashlight or small lamp and shine it on a subject, say a vase of flowers, and move it all around to see how the light and shadows react on the object. The lower the light, the longer the shadows. The higher the light, the shorter the shadows. I also encourage them to pay attention to the sun at different times of the day. Observing nature is one of the best tools for learning to paint. Squinting, looking at a subject through half closed eyes, is another great way of simplifying what is before you. It will enable you to see the relative tonal values more clearly. Another trick is to view your painting in a mirror. You'll be amazed at what you see in the revers.

Depth in a painting is a wonderful illusion that invites the viewer to ‘enter’ the picture. Simple techniques one can use to create a sense of distance is the use of cooler colors, lighter tones and less detail for what is distant. Warmer colors, greater tonal contrast and more detail for objects that are closer. Overlapping shapes and linear perspective using foreshortening and converging lines along with repeated shapes of diminishing size all add to the sense of depth in a painting.

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