For this next piece, I worked on incorporating a more elaborate background. Since Mr. Burns works at the nuclear power plant and is often seen polluting Springfield’s air, I included a billow of smoke. This is in addition to the dollar signs, which are a symbol of his wealth. I quite enjoyed painting a “villain” or antagonist this time around, as I could experiment with slightly darker colours. I am also very pleased with my incorporation of more background elements without taking away from the character as the actual focus of the painting.
I used the sponge brush to create the smoke effect. In researching the sponge brush, however, I discovered that it is actually called a foam brush. According to heartlandpainters.com, one of the negatives of using the foam brush is that it leaves a ridge of paint on both sides of the paint stroke. I used this to my advantage as it created a texture within the smoke and gave the illusion that the smoke was thicker in some places.
While incredibly happy with the stylistic advantages of the foam brush, the cleanup afterward was not the best. Unfortunately, the foam absorbs a lot of paint and, compared to the standard brush head, requires a lot more work to get the paint out (in my experience, anyway). I developed a technique of letting the foam brush soak in the water, and then ringing it out like a regular hand sponge. This seemed to work.
I had originally wanted to use a silver colour for the smoke, however, the acrylic paint that I had purchased at Dollarama was very hard and would not come out of the bottle. It was unusable. For this reason, I had to mix black and white together to make my own sort of grey. This disappointed me, as I had initially envisioned a more metallic silver. My disappointment lead me to doing a bit of research.
This site offered many great solutions for thinning hardened acrylic paint, including a product called the “Acrylic Flow Improver.” I also read a great WikiHow that offered solutions that could be reached by using simple household products. Chipping the paint out with the end of your paintbrush and then grinding it up and adding water to it seemed to work for me, however, my painting was already finished at this point. I also noted that doing this to the acrylic paint turned it into more of a water colour, which gave me a great challenge for my next painting: using water colours. Stay tuned.