Speed Painting from Acrylic Painting With Passion

(This tutorial was previously published in the book Acrylic  Painting With Passion by Tesia Blackburn, copyright 2014. It is republished here courtesy of CreateMixedMedia.com and North Light Books.)

When you’re stuck creatively, it can feel like an insurmountable obstacle to get something done. Pulling out the paint, setting up an easel, gathering up brushes . . . it’s time-consuming, right? But what if you needed only twenty minutes and a minimal setup to get ten paintings started? Really!

“The more you work, the more good work you will do.”
—Paul Russo


Sacred Love XXV
Tesia Blackburn
Acrylic on canvas
24″ × 24″ (61cm × 61cm)

Ten Paintings Right Now

You can start ten paintings in twenty minutes without much fuss at all. Sometimes just having a few minutes will do the trick and get the pump primed if you’re stuck. And you may find a hidden nugget or two in these quick paintings. Then you have something to develop into a full-blown painting.
You may also find that it doesn’t take that long to create something really wonderful that needs no further work at all. When asked how long it took him to paint Elegy to the Spanish Republic, which measures nearly 7′ × 10′ (2m × 3m), Robert Motherwell is said to have replied, “Twenty years and twenty minutes.”
Ten paintings, right now! Here’s how.

What You Need

-Setup time: 10 minutes
-Painting time: 20 minutes
-assorted paintbrushes
-mat board, bristol board or heavy watercolor paper 8″ × 10″–11″ × 14″ (20cm × 25cm–28cm × 36cm), 10 pieces
-fluid paint, one color plus black and white
-palette (foam plates, aluminum foil, palette paper or freezer paper all work equally well)
-various line makers (forks, Catalyst Blades, old credit cards, etc.)
-paper towels
-water container
-egg timer

Version One: Lines Only

Set up your table with ten substrates. Put out some fluid paint; choose just one color, plus black and white. I used Quinacridone Magenta, Titanium White and Bone Black.


1. Set out some water and paper towels. Get an egg timer and set it for twenty minutes. The only rule here is that you must paint on every piece of board and you must stop at twenty minutes. Try it first with lines made with a paintbrush.



2.  Get some really interesting line makers and make varying types of lines on all ten pieces of your surface. The lines can intersect but your focus should be on making lines only, not shapes.



3. Use line makers from the hardware store, kitchen or wherever you can find them. Here I’m using a paint scraper from the hardware store.



4. Keep repeating the lines with different types of line makers until you’ve covered all ten pieces in the allotted twenty minutes.

When the egg timer goes off, stop! You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve done. And this is only the beginning. Imagine having only twenty minutes a day for a week. That’s a lot of work getting done!

Version Two: Shapes Only

Keep everything the same as the previous exercise, except use shape instead of line.


1. Again, cover all ten pieces in the allotted twenty minutes and this time use only shapes.



2. Keep repeating the same shape or different shapes on top of each other until the egg timer goes off.

Version Three: Shape and Line Together

It just makes sense that at some point you would want to use both line and shape. And why not? It will flow easily and make for a great composition. But remember, twenty minutes only!
Using my old friend contrast, I spiced up the composition, never straying too far from the main elements I’ve decided upon—shape and line.


Here’s the end result, a small painting I completed based on these speed paintings. I added a bit of collage and a glaze made with soft gel gloss and a bit of Nickel Azo Yellow.

What’s next? Continue at your own pace, working on these ten pieces with collage, more paint, layers of gels or polymer medium.
Use any of the other techniques in this book to work on top of these ten paintings. This technique will get the pump primed. It’s up to you to continue.


Lynn Glenn
Acrylic on canvas
24” × 24” (61cm × 61cm)
Collection of the artist

Lynn Glenn makes use of repetitive shapes in her abstracts. Notice here how she is making the most of simple organic shapes by repeating them and varying the sizes.

(From Acrylic Painting With Passion by Tesia Blackburn, 2014: courtesy of CreateMixedMedia.com and North Light Books.)

U2175_U2175.inddClick here to find out more about or purchase a copy of Acrylic Painting With Passion: Explorations for Creating Art That Nourishes the Soul by Tesia Blackburn.

You may also like these articles:

This entry was posted in Make: Mixed Media Art Projects, Mixed Media Collage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.