Acrylics are fun to work with and their versatility allows for them to be used on a variety of surfaces: canvas, paper, wood and clayboard to name a few.
Acrylics can be laid on thick like oil paints or thinned out and built up in glazes like watercolours - or a combination of both in the same painting. The fact that they are permanent and therefore cannot be reactivated with water after drying makes them an excellent candidate as the foundation for mixed-medium pieces.
I am so excited to explore this medium and all of the painterly possibilities for creating archival works of art.
From blending with mineral spirits on watercolour paper to using special blending mediums on sanded paper, it is now possible to create beautiful unique works of art with tremendous colour saturation and feeling of depth with coloured pencils that anyone would be proud to hang on a wall. Colouring between the lines in an adult colouring book this is NOT!
I avoided painting with oils in my home studio for so long because of the mess, toxic solvents, fumes, flammable rags, etc.
Recently, I was so happy to discover water-mixable oils. Water mixable oils are real oil paints that are water mixable, not water-based.
They were developed to be used with water in the place of turpentine, mineral spirits or other solvents. Like traditional oils, water soluble oils must dry through oxidation – absorbing oxygen through the air. Like traditional oils, water soluble oil paintings cannot be reactivated with water when dry. Once dry, they are just like any other oil painting and should be treated as such.
I never tire of working in this medium and every painting brings a new discovery of how the pigments and water flow and work together. It's like magic!
This is one of the mediums in which I love to explore negative space in the painting. Briefly, negative space is the space between objects or parts of an object, or around the object.
Whether painting wet-on-dry, wet-in wet, dropping colour in or lifting colour out, watercolours are so versatile that I never run out of ways to experiment and be surprised by what's left behind once the pigments have all mingled and dried. Additionally, the transparency of many pigments allows the inherent brightness of the white paper to glow through, even after many layers of glazes have been applied.
I also employ the use of gouache, at times to provide some opaque final touch-ups to a watercolour work, or to paint entire pieces.
Sometimes a composition, a mood - or my proclivity towards experimentation to stave off boredom -cries out for "mixing" or layering one kind of media on top of or beside another.
On paper, I have mixed watercolour & gouache with ink and gel pens. On canvas, I have painted oil on top of an acrylic base and I have mixed paper collage with acrylic paint and acrylic mediums. More recently, I have been experimenting with collage in some acrylic paintings.
I live, love and create in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. If you would like to contact me, here are some options:
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Vanessa Ali is a full-time artist, dividing her time between creating original paintings and working as a graphic and web site designer. During the 2020 COVID pandemic, Vanessa expanded her role to that of pattern surface designer with her work designing cloth face masks.
From a very early age, Vanessa displayed a love of design and creativity, from drawing and painting and a flair for understanding the impact and influence on us of the spaces where we live and work. Classes in art and design and drafting were always a part of her elective courses throughout her early school years and at high school.
At the University of Alberta, Vanessa took studio art classes in the department of Fine Arts that included live figure drawing, sculpture and painting. She graduated with a BA in Art History. Right after, she obtained a diploma in Architectural Technology from NAIT and worked for 10 years in a variety of architectural firms producing the plans and specifications for major projects, working in traditional hand-drafting methods and by using Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD).
After starting a family, Vanessa became a self-employed graphic designer and expanded into web site design, hosting and management, all under the umbrella of Ali Cat Graphics. Over the past few years, Vanessa has found the time to get back to her original passion of free-hand sketching and painting and she now splits her time equally between graphic/web design and creating the original works displayed on this website.
In addition to dabbling in visual arts, Vanessa loves to perform as a singer with her jazz ensemble JoySpring, to knit, crochet, make jewellery, play guitar and piano, garden and read great books. She lives with her husband, son and daughter who all patiently share space with all Vanessa's projects that continuously spread throughout the house and garden.
The primary forces in my work are colour and light. Whether creating a traditional landscape, exploring and capturing the negative spaces in a thicket of undergrowth or a forest of trees, studying the play of light and reflection on inanimate objects, colour and light make me swoon and yearn to portray their power and beauty. I use oil and acrylic on canvas; watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil on watercolour paper in my endeavour to capture movement, depth, life and light.