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Art et peinture

Get to Know Gigi Chen, Host of Painting Together With Acrylic

Learn more about the artist, who will lead acrylic painting lessons in Artists Network’s new YouTube series!

Perhaps you’re already well-acquainted with Drawing Together, the free live-streamed drawing series on YouTube hosted by Scott Maier and produced by Artists Network. Well, now we’re launching a similar series for acrylic artists of all skill levels, Painting Together With Acrylic, hosted by contemporary artist Gigi Chen! This series, which Chen calls “our collective art party,” will launch its first YouTube session on October 22 and continue every Thursday. You’ll get to follow along with each lesson as Chen creates a painting from start to finish. No experience necessary!

The best part? Painting Together With Acrylic is an easily accessible resource, not only for improving your skills but also staying engaged with a community of artists — things that mean even more to all of us during a global pandemic. Stoke your creative fire, live-chat with Gigi as she paints, share your art, comment on others’ work, and return week after week for more creativity and connection with fellow acrylic artists.

In the meantime, if you’re not already familiar with Gigi Chen, brush up on the magnificent artist below.

Photo by Bill Wadman

Gigi Chen is a notable contemporary artist based in New York City whose work creates an aesthetic that combines her training as a traditional animator and painter with her love of the techniques of old masters. Entrenched in the art of storytelling, Chen’s artwork pulls together her love of contemporary idioms of cartooning, photo realism, texture, and design to produce works that coalesce into “love, craft, and fun.”

Born in Guang Dong, China and raised in New York, Chen first exhibited her work in New York at Deitch Projects as part of the ARTSTAR reality-based television program. Her exhibition credits also include the Queens Museum of Art, Superfine! Art Fair and Deep Space Gallery. 

We caught up with Chen to learn more about what she looks forward to as the host of Painting Together With Acrylic, what she loves about the medium, her best advice for acrylic artists of all skill levels, and more.

A Q&A With Gigi Chen

What makes you excited about hosting Painting Together With Acrylic?

“It is hard to put into words how super excited I am to be hosting a painting show. Like many kids in the 80s and 90s, I watched Bob Ross almost every morning. Afterwards, I would sit in my backyard with my mom and my watercolor set and paint trees, landscapes, and flowers. There would be piles and piles of paintings every week. That kind of influence is incredibly powerful. My goal is to be a good guide to everyone who watches Painting Together With Acrylic. I want everyone at all skill levels to follow along and learn something new. Hopefully it will give a nudge to a few artsy kids as well.”

Heaven (More Than Everything) by Gigi Chen

What do you love about working with acrylic paint?

“I was trained as an oil painter, working closely alongside professional artists for almost two decades. I was taught all the fundamentals of color mixing, mediums, and studying the old masters and all of that fun stuff. Oil painting is an older craft and has so much history behind it. The process itself is beautiful, but I never felt like I could personalize it, and the pressure of adding onto that legacy made me nervous.

“I picked up acrylic painting about five years ago and felt a real kinship to the medium. While some of the principles are the same as oil painting, I was pretty amazed at how incredibly different both mediums are. For me, the faster drying time was the major reason why I liked acrylic. I can paint at the speed of thought without waiting in between layers. I also really like how the paint sits on top of the surface instead of getting absorbed like with oils. To me, acrylic paintings can look more vibrant for that reason. And the best part? I can clean everything with soap and water and not have to fuss around with turpentine and other chemicals.”

Love Collection by Gigi Chen

What’s your best advice to beginning acrylic painters?

“I would really advise patience. People come into a class hoping to get really good, really fast. That is just not always the case. I taught myself acrylics in order to find a new identity as an artist and to challenge myself. That was five years ago and I am still struggling and discovering new things every single time I sit down to work. Very few things have ever come naturally for me, but I have stubbornly stuck to it.

“As for starting out, please do not glob on a lot of paint initially. The paint will dry and you will not be able to remove it. Therefore, you must work in fairly thin layers and build up your surface. If you mess up, just wait a few minutes and do it again. Always have water and rags nearby to keep your brushes clean and moist.

“Always remember that acrylic is its own animal. You can bring a lot of the fundamentals from mediums such as oils or watercolors, but allow acrylic paint to have its own identity. Do not fight its best base qualities, like the short drying time. Use that to your advantage and plan ahead.”

How will hosting Painting Together With Acrylic help you stay creative and connected during COVID-19?

“This year has been bizarre for everyone. I am used to spending a lot of time on my own in the studio but have always maintained an almost too active social life. There was always a wild dance party or art opening to go to. I would also get together with my artist friends and we would throw little art parties. Everyone brought along a personal project and we would catch up and make things. I have even had several writers come to my studio to get a change of scenery while we both worked quietly in our own corners. I really want Painting Together to be our collective art party. Every class will be a new way to socialize and be together like a little art troupe.

“As for staying creative, this class will be an extra nudge for me. I am a believer in ‘an object in motion stays in motion.’ As long as I am painting, I am also getting practice. Also, teaching is fairly new for me, let along painting live for a camera. While I have been preparing for Painting Together, I have had to consider what would help someone learn as well as what would keep myself engaged. Admittedly, I do not casually paint a lot of flowers. For the class, though, I have had to think beyond myself, and that has been really refreshing after several months of painting on my own.” 

Learn more about Gigi Chen at gigichen.com and follow her on Instagram at @gigichen.art.

Join the collective art party!

Painting Together With Acrylic will launch its first YouTube session on October 22 and continue every Thursday. Follow along with each free live-streamed session as Chen creates a painting from start to finish. Once again: all skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary!

More about Gigi Chen:

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