How to paint portraits in acrylics with master artist Barry McCann I Colour In Your Life

G’day viewers, my name is Graeme Stevenson and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world, and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists in in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi viewers and welcome back to Colour In Your life and also welcome back to the studio of an (Graeme) amazingly talented man, Barry. ( Barry) Great to see you again Graeme. (Graeme)  This is sensational. The last time Barry was on, it was about twelve months ago wasn’t it?
  (Barry) That’s right. (Graeme) Yeah and Barry and Lucy had such a phenomenal (Graeme) reaction to your show, or both of your (Graeme) your shows, you said that you had emails coming in for over a week?
(Barry) Oh amazing response. (Barry) And we have to thank you. It was truly (Barry) lovely. It was a huge compliment, we ended up getting (Barry) so many emails and phone calls and we thought that (Barry) a lot of those were asking questions that weren’t (Barry) attributed to the last episode. So what I wanted to this time is answer some of those (Barry) those questions.Using the paints and mediums that I do.(Graeme) sure (Barry) And that’s what most of the questions were.
(Graeme) Yeah definitely. I mean obviously there’s so much (Graeme)   that’s involved and you sort of look at all of the mediums that Chroma produces and (Graeme)  the fact that you use Interactives…Lucy uses Free Flow (Barry) Yep (Graeme)watercolours, but obviously there’s so, so much it really does get (Graeme)   confusing. But because Barry, you know, I would think he and Lucy would probably be two (Graeme)     two of the best teachers in the country,you’re going to take us through that today (Graeme)  and learn a whole bunch of stuff. (Barry) What I’ve done is I’ve got a painting that’s (Barry) mostly done. But I wanted to show… (Barry) A lot of the questions were the process of painting. So what I wanted (Barry) to do is show the little things if you like. There’s areas that aren’t (Barry) aren’t completed. So today what I’m going to do is I’m using Atelier (Barry) Interactive paints and these are… (Barry) I hate calling them acrylics. They are acrylics but they are (Barry) and they aren’t. Acrylics traditionally are a very fast drying (Barry) paint and with Interactive I can (Barry) control the drying time. So if I add things like mediums (Barry) mediums or water, I can keep the blending time open. (Barry) There are a lot of mediums, I’ve got a large range of mediums (Barry) but today what I want to do is concentrate on just one or (Barry) one or two mediums, and really show you one particular medium that I (Barry) I just love. It’s my favourite medium out of all of them. The other main (Barry) thing with Interactive is obviously this fine mist water spray. (Barry) If you can constantly keep your paints (Barry) moist they’ll last. I put these out in the morning (Barry) and they last all day long. You know, the thing that I’ve seen (Barry) in the past with acrylics, you put them out and they skin (Barry) skin over, dry, scrapping them off, squeeze out more Paints (Barry) With Interactive I don’t have to do that. I squeeze them out once in the morning, (Barry) they keep moist all day long. (Graeme) Part of what you do is building the atmosphere in your pictures (Graeme) as well (Barry) Yeah, the inspiration is basically the light. (Barry) I love that idea of warm versus cool. There’s a warm side of (Barry) the painting and a cool side of the painting. So I want to show you (Barry) guys how I go about setting that up, because I think that’s important. (Graeme) Alright well (Graeme) Alright well lets go and have a look at that and then…
(Barry) Then we’ll do some painting.
(Graeme( OK (Barry) So my favorite genre of painting is obviously figurative (Barry) work. And so with regards to setting up the photo I get (Barry) a model in, in this case it’s a gorgeous, lovely lady. And (Barry) And then what we do is set up the lighting. The main reason I want to (Barry) paint the painting, the figure, is because the effect light has (Barry) on matter. In this case what I did was, we used the props that were around (Barry) our home and I put in a warm light and (Barry) a cool light. Warm light obviously with the candles and the cool light I made up (Barry) and it was a fake light. So what I did was I put Lucy Anne (Barry) in different positions and now giving her props with wine glasses (Barry) and the candles obviously. But the wine glass is there as a light (Barry) light breaking the dark, and I make sure that her hand is (Barry) in a way that leads the viewers eye in. I then actually told (Barry) her where to put her nose and where to place her eyes so that I’m actually (Barry) a director. I’m controlling what I want to happen. Where the light (Barry) light is bouncing off her nose, where the light is bouncing off her cheek,where the light (Barry) is bouncing off her clothes. And so I’m setting all of that up as I’m doing the photo. (Barry) The main thing that I want to capture in (Barry) the photography was that chiaroscuro look, that beautiful light that (Barry) versus dark. How wonderful painters like Rembrandt and Caravaggio (Barry) and John Singer Sargent, to an extent, had that beautiful effect of light. (Barry) That beautiful dark versus light. (Barry) Okay because this show was (Barry) designed around showing some of the products and mediums (Barry) from the Chroma company, one that (Barry) I just love is, sometimes you might (Barry) forget to wash your brush out, and what happens is you get this (Barry) clag on the end of this brush. Anyway Mr. Cobb has (Barry) come up with this great product. It’s called Incredible Brush Cleaner (Barry) and when I read that…I thought yeah that’s (Graeme) Yeah OK (Barry) pretty gutsy to put that on there. But you know what?
It actually (Barry) is incredible. It’s brilliant. So what I’ll do is, I’ll just demonstrate how good (Barry) good that is, you saw how hard that was. That’s set rock solid. So I’m going (Barry) to put the brush into a little decanter (Barry)amount and I’ll leave that there and we’ll come back to that later.
(Graeme) sounds great (Barry) The next thing I want to show you was (Barry) this is a safety net thing. I’ve got a mountain of (Barry) mediums over here but I love, my favorite (Barry) medium is this one here. It’s called Fast Medium Fixer – I use (Barry) use this everyday. And the reason I love it is because (Barry) is because it’s so versatile. Fast Medium Fixer has got a (Barry) duel name; Fast Medium so you can add it to your paints to speed up the drying process, (Barry) but I use it for the second part of the name the Fixer part. (Barry) Now what does that mean? In effect when I draw on my (Barry) my canvas, okay I can rub (Barry) that off. The drawing part of it (Barry) is not fixed. Now I get some of this stuff (Barry) and I decanter that into a small container and you can see it’s (Barry) beautiful and milky like. Gorgeous, easy, lovely consistency (Barry) and I’m going to put that over (Barry) the area of my drawing. (Graeme) So it dries clear? (Barry) Dries perfectly clear. It comes out lovely and milky and dries (Barry) within mere minutes.
(Graeme) Yep (Barry) And I’m using a lovely soft (Barry) brush. A Golden nylon, a lovely soft brush, put that on (Barry) and within mere minutes that will be dry. (Graeme) Okay. So what’s the advantages then? (Barry) If I seal this (Barry) area it gives me a safety net. (Barry) It’s really seal and save.It’s like having a save button on your computer. (Barry) So what happens now is I’ve already Fast Medium Fixed this, ( Barry) look what happens, I can’t rub off my drawing. I’ve got a safety net. (Barry) It means its there, I can’t lose my drawing, so (Barry) that’s, to me, invaluable. The last time you were here I was painting on a (Barry) white palette. I’ve gone to a mid grey tone now because what (Barry) it does is helps me with my… I can see the transparency of (Barry) paint and it helps me with my tones. And I’ll also, instead of using (Barry) the palette over here on the side, I was constantly turning, painting here, (Barry) turning here. So for my back, I’ve now got (Barry) got it in front of me and I can paint here and the action really is quite (Barry) quite easy. (Graeme)   But this is great as well. I mean if you look at, this actually comes out. (Graeme) You can spin the whole thing around?
(Barry) We lift this up here. (Graeme) Yeah. And it just turns all the way around. How about that. I think that’s amazing. (Barry) It’s actually quite good. So that means then I can get in and (Barry) adjust my paintings if I need to as well. This was made by my Uncle Peter. (Barry) I came up with this idea and said could you do this and he’s gone and (Barry) made this up for me. (Graeme) We love Uncle Peter. ( Barry) Thank you Uncle Peter. So (Barry) back to my colours. (Graeme) Yeah. (Barry) The colours haven’t changed. (Barry) I’ve still go…my Carbon Black, I’ve got a Phthalo Blue, (Graeme) The black. (Barry) okay I’ve got French Ultramarine Blue, this is (Barry) magenta, its a gorgeous Quinacridone Magenta, this is Cad Red. (Graeme) Yep (Barry) A scarlet. This one here’s Transparent Red Oxide. (Barry) This one here’s a beautiful Yellow Ocher and this one is Cadmium (Barry) Yellow Deep, I love this colour. And this one here is a Transparent Yellow. (Graeme) OK (Barry) Alright so I’m going to paint the hair section on here and show (Barry) and show you basically why I seal that with Fast (Barry) Medium Fixer. I’m going to go in and start off and paint a dark to start with (Barry) So that I can get a value sense. So in and around here is (Barry) is a lovely dark. So as soon as I put this in, I can actually (Barry) now judge my values according to this is the darkest dark area; (Barry) area; this is a light area, so I can go ahead and actually paint all this. (Barry) Lets put in some of these darks. Now an oil painter (Barry) would have a mountain of time for blending. (Barry) With the Interactive paints we can control (Barry) that amount of blending time so I don’t have to blend all (Barry) all day long. Okay getting to this stage here where I can put (Barry) some beautiful warmth into here and I get to the (Barry) o the end and think ‘it’s not (Barry) going right I don’t like it’. What I can do is (Barry) I’ve already got my seal and save, my Fast Medium (Barry) Fixer. Wipe this straight off. (Graeme) Oh you’re kidding. (Barry) Comes right back to the drawing. And because I’ve got my Fast Medium Fixer on there… (Graeme) Get outa here. (Barry) I don’t disturb anything that’s underneath it. It’s a seal (Barry) and save. And that’s the part that I love. It means (Barry) I can do an eye for example and then seal it. (Barry) Put Fast Medium Fixer just on that eye, seals it. It means I can’t (Barry) ever lose it again. And then I can re-paint over the top of it. So the advantage of it (Barry) is for me is I can paint wet over dry or (Barry) I can keep it open as long as I want to, and I can blend. So (Barry) that to me is the beauty of this product. Now I’m going to repaint that again and we’ll get (Barry) it to a stage that I can then seal the hair. (Graeme)  Okay. A great technique isn’t it. (Barry) Look I find it so liberating. I love this (Barry) this beautiful warmth that’s on the outside here. I’m going to really push that with a bit of Cad Yellow (Barry) and Cad Red and get some lovely orange light (Barry) bounce back into it.
(Graeme) As an oil artist myself, and I’ve painted some quite (Graeme) large paintings too, but you’re obviously on the move a lot. You’re painting (Graeme) ta and some of the really well known celebrities in Australia so this has got to be… (Barry) That’s the other advantage with the acrylics. Those guys (Barry) can only afford so much time, They donate so much (Barry) so much time for me to go and meet them and paint them. (Barry) And what I found with oil painting, to cart an oil painting down to Sydney and bring it back (Barry) home again, it was just mission impossible. Where as with the (Barry) the acrylics, because I was in control of the drying time I can actually (Barry) go down, paint sections, seal it off and it was just so (Barry) so much easier. It was just beautiful. (Graeme) So you look at your work like this and obviously this is a picture of a woman that (Graeme) you love more than anything else in the world, but a lot of this comes down to inspiration (Graeme) inspiration too doesn’t it? (Barry) Ah Yes ( Graeme) And it’s… I can remember that you, (Graeme) we’ve screened up a picture of… a Julian Ashton (Graeme) Ashton picture, at the local museum here that you’ve actually went in and were privileged (Graeme) enough to sit beside the picture and then reignite it (Graeme) again through your own… (Barry) Isn’t that amazing? Over in Europe we travel, (Barry) we’re lucky enough to be traveling over in Europe, and you go to an art gallery over there (Barry) and you see people all around the beautiful big museums (Barry) with their easels setting up and painting. In Australia we don’t do that. (Barry) Yet up at our gallery here, because we’re artists, honoured (Barry) to be artists in residence up there, they actually said would you like (Barry) to pick a painting from the collection and paint it. And yes I (Barry) was lucky enough to have an original Julian Ashton there, which I love. It’s a beautiful (Barry) painting called The Awakening and I was lucky enough to copy that. And it was (Barry) just so much fun and just beautiful.
(Graeme) Another (Graeme) one of the great products that Chroma actually puts out is the Heavy Gel Gloss (Graeme) Gloss and you said you were going to put some of this on for the hair? Explain how that works. (Barry) The Heavy Gel to me is a lovely way to make (Barry) my paint thicker. So I’m going to put thick paint onto my canvas. It goes (Barry) It goes on… See you dip straight out of this and lets say I’m working on the hair at the moment and I (Barry) I want to give my hair texture and I’m trying to get, if you like, an impasto feel to (Barry) eel to this paint. Now there is a lot of body in the (Barry) the acrylics anyway but this is only to add further texture. It goes on (Barry) lovely and thick and cloudy but it will dry crystal clear. (Barry) So now what I want to do is I want to do some glazing and I need a (Barry) clean area to do that. What I want to do is use Fast Medium (Barry) Fixer again, but I’m going to be using it as a glazing medium. (Barry) And I know there are other mediums that do that. There is actually a glazing (Barry) medium over there. A glazing liquid…(Graeme)   Ok (Barry) …but I’m just going to show you, this will do it because I’m going to use it (Barry) the fast medium part of it. So I want this to dry fast (Barry) I can then do another layer over the top of it. So I’m just going to squeeze out (Barry) a warm and a cool area for where I’m going to be mixing. And what I’ve got if you like, (Barry) I’ve got two puddles, one’s going to be my cools and one’s going to be my warm.
(Graeme) Oh Ok (Barry) I’m going to dive into a lovely Phthalo Blue and I’m going to add it into (Barry) here. Pick it up and I want to coat this in all over. (Graeme) It’s still pretty rich isn’t it?     (Barry) Oh it’s beautiful. Look at that for a colour. (Barry) And I love what it does, it just mixes in just beautiful. (Barry) beautiful. And put some of that on there and spread it around and it does (Barry) does its thing, which is great.Now because the (Barry) the whole painting is based about warm versus cool, I want to go (Barry) over to the warm side of my palette now and put this on over here (Barry) These if you like are glazes, just (Barry) beautiful veils of colour. There’s… All I’m doing is really putting (Barry) an under-coating on that will then dry really fast (Barry) fast and I can go over and paint. In here is this gorgeous (Barry) yellow and I’m going to mix that in with my Fast Medium Fixer. (Barry) Now I can paint over the whites of the candles because if I (Barry) need to I’ve got a safety net on. I can bring that white back (Barry) If I need to (Graeme) Viola (barry) Voila (Barry) In here it goes lovely, lovely and red and (Barry) put that in so it’s lovely and rich and vibrant. (Barry) These will all be down played because I’m going to put another, if you like, a glaze (Barry) of darks over the top of it. And again (Barry) I’m cooling it down because it is a shadow area and I’m going to go (Barry) to around about a diagonal its there, it’s in my reference material. (Barry) Now really what I do is, there’s a little bit of light (Barry) bounce just in this plate, just put that (Barry) put that in. I’m just going to put a little bit of warmth in. (Barry) I don’t want it to be stark white. If you can give me five minutes we’ll (Barry) come back and I can put the darks on for you.
(Graeme) That sounds fantastic (Graeme) Alright. Dried off, ready to go. (Barry) Beautiful. Alright so within (Barry) minutes because the Fast Medium really does, (Barry) it feels tacky but it’s dry, nothing is going to come off in my hand. (Graeme) Yep (Barry) What I’m going to do now is I want to try and create the atmosphere that it is (Barry) at night time: it’s dark. And I want to really push this (Barry) beautiful glow that’s happening around the candles and then I’m going to try (Barry) and advance the figure and push the background back. (Barry) At the moment this is screaming at me because it’s so colourful,So now
(Graeme) Sure (Barry) I’m going to use the same method, the glazing method. I’m going to (Barry) emphasis my darks, my lights, and I’m going to try to pull this painting together so (Barry) so it resembles the atmosphere or the effect light I had on the matter… (Graeme) Fantastic (Barry) …when we took the photo. (Graeme) You know just re-capping I use a (Graeme) number of the Atelier Interactive products myself, (Graeme) myself, even Free Flow. And then obviously (Graeme) with Jim who is sort of like the Colonel Sanders and quiet scientist of paint. (Barry) He’s an amazing guy. We were lucky enough to meet guy (Barry) guy in his studio. It was an absolute honour (Barry) and we felt very privileged; at the same time (Barry) very humbled. We were lucky enough to see the factory and (Barry) these huge vats of paint. Because I love (Barry) this product I met a hero, I met a person that I (Barry) genuinely respect in this world so, it’s just beautiful, (Barry) beautiful stuff. (Graeme)  And he definitely has changed the landscape with art for many, many people. (Barry) It’s great. ( Graeme) many people   (Barry) Now I just push this in here (Barry) here and I don’t mind that textured look because it (Barry) can create the illusion of (Barry) of light in there. I actually think that I took the dark too far (Barry) in this light area. I’m just going to bring back the light. Go back in (Barry) and bring out the light again.
(Graeme) Beautiful (Barry) Okay, and the last chink (Barry) chink of light on the candlesticks again. (Graeme) Voila ( Barry ) Voila (Barry) Alright just before I pull the tape off, I have to show you (Barry) this brush thing. Can I do that? ( Graeme) lets have a look (Barry) Here we go. So take this.
(Graeme) The Incredible Brush cleaner (Graeme) and its a (Barry) isn’t that amazing (Graeme) Its a brand new brush (Barry) Isn’t that incredible? So I actually I love that product. And it takes the paint (Barry) out of your clothes it’s really amazing. It’s great stuff. It’s (Graeme) its amazing (Barry) Alright I’ll take the tape off but I just want to talk to you about (Barry) finishing off a painting. So now with the white border around(Graeme) Alright (Barry) around it you can see the effect of light and I still wanted to play (Barry) on this beautiful cool and this warm. I can now (Barry) tweak that if I wanted to. Now if I was to get this (Barry) to a gallery level, it is becoming a gallery painting. (Barry) What I would do is I would fix it: (Barry) Fast Medium Fixer – I’d put a coat of that on it. And then what I do is I’d (Barry) make it so it was all the same gloss. In this case (Barry) I take my painting back to a matte varnish. A matte look. So I use (Barry) this, this is a water solvent matte varnish. I’ll put a couple (Barry) of coats of that on it, and again it’s so liquid it’s very similar (Barry) to the Fast Medium Fixer and then if I wanted to turn it into a… (Barry) I’ll leave that there. If I wanted to turn it into an oil look-a-like (Barry) what I can do is put a solvent based varnish on it. (Barry) And this comes invisible, which will, in this case, will be matte (Barry) and then after that satin and gloss.
(Graeme) OK (Barry) And so then this is actually solvent so you’ve got to wash brushes out in turps after that.
(Graeme) Yes (Barry) But it gives it a really hard enamel, nearly like a (Barry) nail polish finish.
(Graeme) Thats Fantastic (Graeme) Well another fantastic day. I think part of the legacy of (Graeme) oday, and that’s really what it is, a legacy of education. And the fact is (Graeme) that a lot of people will sit down and play with these paints (Graeme) and the mediums and not really know what they do or what they’re for. (Graeme) So today really was one of those shows that Barry and Lucy have (Graeme) really graciously given their time for to do this. (Graeme) But sensational stuff mate. Really appreciate it. (Barry) Thank you. Look they’re great products. (Graeme) They speak for themselves. (Barry) They make it easy. (Graeme) yep absolutely they do. (Graeme) Now if people want to see your work? (Barry) If you want to see our work you can go to our website, obviously, which is (Barry) Or at the moment a gallery in Sydney (Barry) is really promoting our work. A beautiful gallery,, (Barry) and please (Barry) like us on Facebook. What we are going to do is put up some (Barry) some of this on Facebook. And if you want to, please (Barry) come in and join us and like us on Facebook.
(Graeme) Definitely, definitely. We’re sort of created Graeme)  a bit of a bond with each other over the last twelve months or so. We just think Lucy and Barry Graeme) are just sensational people. Ah once again you can go to Graeme)  and see what we’re doing and our Facebook page, which is Colour In Your Life as well. Graeme)   We’re going to head off, but before we go what do we say? (Barry) Make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. (Graeme) So well said. Thanks guys. See you. Bye bye. (Barry) Bye Bye

86 Replies to “How to paint portraits in acrylics with master artist Barry McCann I Colour In Your Life”

  1. Very informative video in Acrylic mediums & I loved the paintings, wish I could see more videos from this artist!

  2. Fantastic, I thank you very much for making this available for us all to view. Is there a possibility to obtain a list of all the materials that Barry uses in his paintings. I was not able to keep track of the products and names. Thank you.

  3. What a master piece.  Truly, so glad you've created this channel to share so much goodness.  The artists and the products.  Thank you so much.  Really enjoying it all.

  4. Thanks for your post. What is the best medium to blend acrylics with please? Looking at the subtle blending on the shadow side of the figure in particular.

  5. Thank you,thank you,thank you! I'm an oil painter that has just started in acrylics (due to CIYL!) and have  been having trouble with the acrylic fast drying time. Also,love the fast fix and sealer options. Couldn't have watched this at a better time, I'm off to purchase these much needed items.

  6. very interesting subject … i learnd more than i thought i would. top teacher and an incredible artist , thanks 

  7. if you painted some of that fixer on your actual painting will you be able to paint over it without causing it to shade?

  8. Oh that's such a refreshing technique! 
    I want to throw all my oils away and immediately start painting with acrylic now! 🙂

  9. (colour in ur life)…… thiss iss seriouslyy.. a great help to me…. tnxx… grt episode just like others……

  10. Do u have a video showing how to blend portrait skin? I am pulling my hair out over acrylic portraiture. We have to paint in acrylic for school. My skin colors dry before I blend. The retarder does not give me enough open time. Any techniques would be greatly appreciated . I have to paint a singer

  11. its nice to know there are people still making wonderful art, it gets depressing seeing all this abstract and modern art junk.

  12. a question please, what is in the spray bottle to help the paints? I can not hear what you called it and on DickBlick can not see it, thanks so much!

  13. im not complaining brownbearscout. I personally learnt a great deal from this particular episode from how he sets out his palette to how to organise and capture cool and warm tones in an original artwork! What mediums Barry uses and how to get the most out of them. I'll unashamedly watch as many infomercials as you put it if it'll teach me as much as this episode of CIYL just did. Amazing work Barry and Thankyou so much to you and Graeme for getting me back infront of some canvas again.

  14. brilliant!!!! The work is amazing and I'm supposed excited about trying the products. Can't wait to go see more of this artist.

  15. I've watched this episode from start to finish several times and have learnt something new every time….! Thanks so much….

  16. I have worked with acrylics since the early 70's… mate, all acrylic manufacturers usually offer binders, retarder, gel mediums and on and on.. Atelier in MHO is one of many quality Australia paint makers.. I'm wondering, do you have a sponsor deal with them..LOL..because you sure do promote them well… Graeme could have had 10 more minutes of your great techniques without the Atelier product promotions.. just saying..

  17. Thank you Graeme Stevenson for the opportunity to learn heaps from Barry McCann. The results in his painting is proof of successful applications of varnishes together with the interactive paints and helpful mediums. I now will improve my own techniques accordingly, and improve the effects of conjuring warm and cool lights, and then painting them accordingly. The added understanding of sealing and saving my underdrawing with fast medium fixer is a huge help. Together with finishing varnishes, I hope to establish some effects of an oil painting, on my interactive acrylic work. Barry McCann is a great instructor, and inspirator. Thank you, very much appreciated Barry, Beverley Stowe.

  18. Just watched this a second time with the first being a couple months back – absolutely gobsmacked and congratulations Barry and Colour in Your Life 🎨👌

  19. Interesting video about Barry McCann's use and endorsement of Atelier Interactive Acrylics.  However, from what I've seen lately on his Face Book page, he has since moved on to PRIMAcryl paints by Schmincke.  I sent him a note asking why he made this change, but never got a reply.

  20. this episode is just big advert, barry even said "this show was built around showcasing chroma products" 8 mins in and ive seen a showcase of his work, a big advert for the sponsors and him telling a model where to stand… very dissapointed.

  21. It seems to be wonderfull products, but I wish you had written the names of the products and also put a link to where they can be bought

  22. I've always heard you cant get as realistic with Acrylic as you can with oils(Boris Vallejo) I guess this disproves his theory!

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