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Calvin deRuyter Demo Notes-CMW October 9th Membership Meeting

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Calvin deRuyter the demo artist for CMW’s October membership meetings begins by describing his early years of painting. He painted landscapes-he had a cloud obsession-and then landscapes started to bore him. “What could be different?” They were no longer a challenge for him. He told himself he couldn’t do abstracts. Abstracts are a totally different process. He could complete a landscape in two to three hours, where an abstract painting takes 8 to 12 hours. Obviously, he started painting abstracts.

Calvin shared a lot of information about products and materials he uses. He has no set standard. One of the paintings he displayed was watercolor but usually they are mixed water media, primarily acrylic.





He picks complementary colors – will paint a tomato blue. He says one should always strive for some new technique-learn.


He says abstracts take so long because it is an intellectual composition. There are no errors only learning experiences. He said about “mud” happening in a painting. It’s how you use it. Put color next to it and it will sing. Abstracts are the same.

There is a certain freedom in letting the painting talk to you.

Options he gave us to add red were: fluid acrylic, “soft body” just a little thicker, tube paint, interference paints (acrylics that if you want, you can move after they dry), acrylic ink (shake and if you see bubbles when the bottle is upside down they are mixed well—use stopper or put into pens). He used brushes to spread the reds-some were transparent and some opaque.

*DON’T WATER DOWN ACRYLICS…plastic is the binder and water will separate the binder from the pigment.

Calvin uses air brush thinner not water but uses as water…it has a strong odor. It is milky but does not alter the colors.


He also talked about a fixative—for special areas with marks spray and when you paint over, it won’t pull up.

Also Golden has a Multipurpose product…all these products have slightly different consistencies.

*DON’T USE A HAIR DRYER ON ACRYLIC—hot dryer will melt plastic

He showed an Air Duster and Vacuum that costs about $35 on Amazon. It blows out air without the heat so it will dry acrylic faster without affecting the plastic component.


How does Cal approach fixing the painting at this point?

He breaks down his process. Does the purple stay or turn it to black? Red stays. Establish a cross composition. He thinks to add more white as it appears too dark. He generally uses Gesso for white and to mix he uses titanium white. Here he added white Gesso.

At this point his painting is 5 to 6 hours from completion. He notes that all his reds are equal right now so he will add another color later on to add interest.

He says he’s still playing at this point. The most important thing he’s learned about abstracts is his own self limitation. Abstracts are his inner spiritual feelings and emotions. How am “I” reacting to the world around me. He said that was evident in his paintings during the pandemic.

At this point he says that “Pink Soap” product will reinvigorate ruined brushes. He’s hard on his brushes.

He also shares information on one of his favorite artists Brian Rutenberg. He says Rutenberg is an amazing colorist. He works in oil and it takes 6 to 8 months for him to complete a painting.



Brian Rutenberg

Calvin thought his painting was disjointed and he pulled it together with a yellow wash. He marked the composition with charcoal. He said how will he pull it together? ….start with bigger shapes. Big shapes go in first. He added more red ink because it’s transparent. He reminds that the canvas should constantly be turned. He wipes out areas when he doesn’t like them.


Someone asked, “How do you know when you are done?” If Cal thinks he is done but has doubts he will send it to a friend. He also says if you think it’s finished it’s probably overdone.

You need to give your viewer something to become part of that painting. Don’t give them all the information. And don’t get attached to certain areas to keep as they are.


Thank you Calvin for a close up look at all the products you use and your way of creating colorful exciting abstract paintings!

We wait in anticipation to see how the completed painting will evolve from the last painting shown here!

Submitted by Paula Tift, CMW Social Media Coordinator

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