A Canal Scene in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in muted colours of a canal scene. A lock and a lock keepers cottage.
A Canal Scene

Hello everyone. This is my canal scene, a recent acrylic painting that I did while following an online tutorial by Care Visions. Actually, the teaching by the tutor John Skelcher was very good. And, it was free, so that can’t be bad! To be honest, my natural style of painting is not usually this realistic. On the contrary, I like to take a more loose approach and slightly impressionistic. Really, I do find it very difficult to describe my own painting style. But, on this occasion I found it very helpful to follow the instructions and paint like John! Or, at least, to paint in the style he adopted for the tutorial.

A Canal Scene in a Muted Palette

As you can see, the colours we used are quite toned down – the buildings in cream and brown. And a pale, unobtrusive sky, with brownish green trees in the background. However, I did manage to indulge my love of colour by painting some vivid greens in the foreground. But, I must admit that this restricted palette is very effective. Perhaps it’s a better representation of the actual canal scene than my usual highly saturated, intense colour choices would give? Hmm, something to think about here! Just have a look here at this post of some really monochrome paintings.

I’d like to to pass on to you a good tip that John gave us. Just don’t worry about not having an in depth knowledge of a subject when you’re painting. If you can reproduce the shapes of the elements of a scene fairly accurately, that will suffice. Hopefully the viewers eye will recognise the objects because of the surroundings. And, that’s just as well, for I know nothing at all about lockgates! Apologies to any canal experts!

More Houses by the Water

A bright, vivid painting of the view across the lake to some houses  on the hill.
Cusworth Hall

Finally, by way of contrast, this is an acrylic painting that I did a couple of years ago. And, as you can see, here I gave full rein to my enthusiasm for bright colours. In my defence, I must point out that it was a beautiful, sunny winter’s day. And the water and the grass sang out to me. So, no muting in sight! Admittedly, I can now see several bits that I could improve. Maybe I will! Because, I am quite fond of this painting. Perhaps a before and after version would show me the modest improvements I am making. So, the practice and studying are all worthwhile. And that’s good to know!

7 Replies to “A Canal Scene in Acrylic”

  1. I`d put that foreground tree on the other side and have its branches framing that lovely cluster of buildings. It would balance up the painting as well – and check the shadow on it, it seems to contradict the light on the houses and rocks.

    1. Thank you, Vivienne. It is quite crisp and ‘outlined’ – not like my usual style! But it’s good to go back to basics sometimes.

  2. While I like this painting ( and I’m not a lock expert but I knew right away that it was a lock) I agree, it’s well done but it seems stiff compared to your usual style. I think you assessed what you learned from it well. I just really like your free and colorful style! I think the advice you mention from the instructor is wonderful. I’ve been thinking lately that sometimes I am using words and then painting (such as this is a cow and I am painting a cow) when I should just look at the cow shapes and let the cow emerge.

    1. Thank you, Claudia. Really I just did this as an exercise – I wouldn’t have chosen this scene or the colour palette. But, it’s good to do something different. Yes, John’s advice is very useful and it takes away some of the tension when you’re painting realistically.

      1. I admire your openness to trying new methods and techniques. It seems to me that you are good at extracting from each experience some information that adds to your next work.

Let me know what you think !