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Loosen Up!

One of the most attractive things about a painting, and one of the most challenging to master, is the art of making it look “painterly.” It’s more than just using different brushes or tools for marks or unexpected color; it’s combining these elements in a way that enhances the overall design. New Jersey artist Anne Kullaf understands this, and when she uses Atelier Interactive for her acrylic paintings, she is able to produce beautiful, expressive works that are based in realism, but with an attractive loose feel.

In fact, Anne calls her teaching blog, “Loosen Up! Drawing and Painting with Style and Confidence.” (Click here to view.) This blog is a resource for her students and other artists; she posts her demo paintings and new work, ideas and notes for her classes. Anne says she learns a lot from her students, because, “Their questions and comments in class force me to really think about why I approach things the way I do.” She is a faculty member of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, the Hunterdon Museum of Art, and the Somerset Art Association, and has been teaching for over 5 years.

Currently, Anne is exhibiting some of her Interactive paintings at JAG Fine Art in Philadelphia. These unique cityscapes are representative of her expressive style. And when it comes to mark making, Anne starts at the very beginning. She frequently uses a dark neutral such as Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna for an underpainting, which she applies in a crisscross fashion using a small paint roller from a hardware store. This not only covers the surface quickly, but leaves an interesting pattern and texture which she is able to paint into, or on top of, as the painting dictates. By using a dark neutral and establishing her value range early on, she is able to focus on getting the right colors in the right places. In her painting, Crab Market , she also used sponge applicators and very large brushes to keep it loose. She found that the rollers allowed her to “scumble large areas, combining colors by layering them one on top of another, yet letting the underlayers show through.”

Anne includes elements of the abstract in her representational paintings. She uses rhythm, shape and composition in her paintings to enhance the abstraction. In her floral study, the flowers form a pattern of light and dark, and heavily painted and thinly painted areas are juxtaposed. Some areas are blended, while in others the colors lay next to each other so they are not overworked. All these elements create a pleasing flow to the piece. Anne’s use of unconventional tools is evidenced in this painting as well, as it was done on cardboard. “I like the way cardboard looks and the way it takes paint. I find it a great surface for practice pieces and studies.” she says. She does not prime the cardboard first, but uses its natural color in these practice pieces.

Anne’s basic palette includes the three primaries, a dark neutral and Titanium White. She varies her primaries depending on the piece, sometimes limiting them to just a red, yellow and blue, sometimes including a warm and cool of each. She mixes her secondary colors from her primaries in order to keep an overall color harmony. When it comes to painting mediums, she favors the Thick Slow Medium, because it “makes Interactive feel so creamy. I can mix up very vibrant batches, and they just take to the canvas or board in such a smooth way.”

You can find Anne’s paintings on her blog and website. She is represented by the Michael Ingbar Gallery, NYC; JAG Fine Art, Philadelphia; Gallery MacEgan, Morristown, NJ; Trudy Labell Fine Art, Naples, FL and Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA. In addition to her local classes and workshops, Anne is leading a painting trip to France this summer.

So try using some new colors, tools, techniques and surfaces with your Interactive paintings. Even if a loose style is not one you typically prefer, just stepping outside your comfort zone will bring a new dimension and consideration to future paintings.