December 8th, 2014

Acrylic Study on Gessoed Paper

Guadalupe Diaz Hidalgo (Lupe) is a New York City portrait artist who uses Beta Series sketchbooks to create acrylic paint studies. These studies are used to plan a final rendering which will be on canvas or board. In the following, Lupe explains the process in which he primes Beta Series sheets for use with multiple layers of acrylic paint.

“As an old art teacher once told me, ‘to be a great painter you just have to paint’. So having a sketchbook that can handle paint seems like a great way to practice as much as you want without committing to the expense and space required to store canvases and boards.

I use a Stillman & Birn wirebound Beta Series sketchbook. Although the extra heavyweight paper can handle paint without preparation, I’ve found that priming it with gesso gives the surface a texture that is closer to that of a canvas or board. I do this by first taping a border on the paper and applying a few layers of gesso. What is great about this is that the additional layers won’t stress the paper. I’ve been doing this for two years and none of my work has warped or damaged. I always let the gesso dry overnight, giving the paper time to settle back into its original flat state. Once the paper is dry I can go crazy and paint to my heart’s desire.

I use acrylic paints and prefer to the Golden brand, but I’ve used several other brands and they all work fine on this paper. Acrylic is a great medium to use because it dries fast but still has a heavy body that allows you to experiment with a large range of painting techniques. I usually do a detail pencil sketch of the subject and start applying thin washes as a foundation to help me establish where colors, tones and highlights will go. And as I progress I add more paint giving my painting texture and body. I try not to get caught up with fine details because I consider this ‘sketching’: my goal is to simply capture the likeness of my subject within one or two sessions which usually adds up to a few hours. I have found that this process of creating preliminary studies with acrylics in my sketchbooks has made me a more confident painter. My work has improved and my actual paintings show it.” To see more of Lupe’s artwork, please visit his blog here:

MEDIA: Pencil and acrylic paint on gesso-primed sheet
SURFACE: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

Acrylic Study _17


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