beach, acrylic, acrylic art, ocean, Nags Head, water, waves, surf, adele castillo art

acrylic mixed media
private collection

I’ve been experimenting with new materials and techniques for the last 10 years and I have struggled to NOT let it influence the style my customers tend to love. I want to explore, yet stay true to who I am as an artist. My solution has been to let it happen organically. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve been randomly painting all over the place. Instead, I paint in series, exploring with specific goals in mind. As it turns out, my work has improved because of my willingness to branch out, and I’ve found new fans with some of my different series of paintings.

beach, surf, ocean, Nags Head, water, acrylic, acrylic painting, fine art, adele castillo art

“Wave Pull”
acrylic mixed media
private collection

One series was based on exploring materials with texture. While the playtime results will remain in the closet, I learned much that led me to create a series of tiny seascapes that really turned out well. These are nothing like my usual, so they have appealed to a whole new set of collectors. I’ve also used some of the discoveries in my recent dog portraits and my Behind the Face selfies series.

Self portrait, portrait, woman, face, selfie, acrylic, acrylic painting, fine art, adele castillo art

“Self Portrait Eight”
Behind the Face series
acrylic mixed media on canvas
18 x 24
Available for Purchase

detail of “Self Portrait Eight” Acrylic over a ground of micaceous iron oxide

Another thing I do when I hit a really dry spell is paint landscapes. I loathe painting landscapes (don’t hate, plein aire painters!) but it forces me to concentrate on color interaction, light and shapes in ways that I don’t usually connect to. I have to think differently and paint differently. It’s good practice and I often end up noting or being reminded of something that I can apply to my animal paintings and portraits.

Give it a try…challenge yourself to try one thing new and see where it leads you. It could be as simple as a new combination of colors or an entirely different subject, including something you really may not like. You might be surprised what you will learn from this exercise in changing it up.


A Simple Color Exercise

Choosing a Color Family

acrylic, acrylic art class, art class, color family, color, adele castillo art, dare county arts council, crossroads art center

Study using one design to explore 4 color options: monochromatic, analogous, split complementary and random colors

I am often asked if I plan the colors in my paintings. The answer is no. I plan my composition, but I let the color evolve. Acrylic dries so quickly, the underpainting gets covered up as the layers pile on. (Which is a separate lesson in depth and transparency.) What’s more important for me is to begin. So I grab the colors that are on my palette and get started. That doesn’t mean there is no thought at all to the process. I use light colors and dark colors accordingly, choosing what speaks to me. Once colors are blocked in, then I worry about where the painting needs to go with color.

Not everyone is comfortable working in such a random fashion. So for those artists, I recommend choosing a basic color family to start, but be open to the possibility of change. Using a color wheel, it’s fairly easy to find a basic color combination. Primary, Secondary, Complementary and Analagous colors all are great places to begin. Not sure how they will look? Try repeating a simple design sample and explore the colors you have in mind.

Personal Color


Boxer, Boxer pup, acrylic, art, animal art, pet painting, adele castillo art

“Get it Ocho”
Acrylic on Canvas
Private Collection
Prints available upon request

Do you have certain colors that you love? I know I do. Chances are you find yourself using the same 2 or 3 colors when decorating, buying clothing and in most of your paintings if you are an artist. My top go-to color is purple and another favorite is teal. I use them straight out of the tube plus I find them both quite flexible in mixing with my preferred palette choices. 

cat, tabby cat, acrylic painting, acrylic art, acrylic workshop

“Miss Sassy”
© Adele Castillo
(sold-private collection)

Purple is a low value color that can deepen other dark colors. Mixed with green, it creates a luscious black which can also become a gorgeous gray. I use this gray to create neutrals in my work, whether it be subtle or obvious. Lavender, which is purple plus white, has a softness that neutralizes every color. Purple also helps calm yellows that are intensely bright right out of the tube. 

Teal can behave as a neutral when mixed with pinks and purples, but on the lighter end of the value scale than purple. It mixes beautifully with most colors and alone is unlike any other color. Try and make teal, then compare it with cobalt teal single pigment…you will see what I mean. It’s green, but not exactly as it leans slightly blue.  

dog howl, dog, animal painting, pet painting, teal and purple, acrylic, art, adele castillo art

“Arina Sings”
Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 18
Available for Purchase

Wouldn’t you like to discover how certain colors help define your style? I’d love to help with that. Consider taking my 5 day retreat and workshop in Manteo, NC, this October 1-6. We will work together to identify your strengths, define your style and make a plan to reach the goals you wish to accomplish. All that AND you get to paint all day, following morning lessons. I can’t wait! If you haven’t signed up yet, deadline is JULY 1. I’m here if you have questions – don’t hesitate to contact me: email = 

For all the details, check out this page under workshops on my website.

Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color

Yes, a payment plan is available. 


Capture Your Color

pet painting, acrylic painting, acrylic, acrylic workshop,

“Cabin Fever”
©Adele Castillo

Why do students take art classes? I’ve found the top reasons are to learn techniques and to develop a style. Experienced painters who come to me often want to learn more about color. I will be addressing all three of these topics this October. I’d love for you to attend my workshop, Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color, which will be held at the Dare County Arts Council in Manteo, NC.

cat, tabby cat, acrylic painting, acrylic art, acrylic workshop

“Miss Sassy”
© Adele Castillo

Students often are first drawn to my work because of the color choices I make in my paintings. Even though students often want to paint like I do, we all have our own style. I am happy to share all that I know about color, so students can apply that knowledge to their own work and develop their own style of painting. 

French Bulldog, acrylic painting, pet painting, acrylic art, acrylic workshop, adele castillo art

© Adele Castillo
Check out all the colors and the pup still reads as white.

So let’s briefly talk about color. 

There is color theory that we all learned in grade school, based light. You know, the rainbow and ROYGBIV. It’s a place to start, but hardly helpful when as a painter, we use pigment combinations based on chemistry. HUH?!! It’s true! Learning to choose your color based on pigment mixtures rather than our grade school science lesson can make a world of difference. (It’s still science, by the way.) As we all know, blue + red is supposed to equal purple. Then why doesn’t it work?? Why are you getting brown? Chemistry. Pigments can be natural or man-made, organic and inorganic. While you don’t need to memorize what each pigment is, it does help to know how each pigment actually reacts with other pigments when mixed or layered. I’ll show you how to spend a little time learning what the colors in your stash will give you and how to organize using color families, so you can make better choices and spend more time painting with success. 

puffer fish, acrylic painting, acrylic art, acrylic workshop, adele castillo art

“Puffer Papa”
© Adele Castillo

Would you like to read more about the workshop? Check out this link on my website. Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color. If you prefer to avoid links, then look under workshops on my site menu. 

I’d love to see you there! 

p.s. Save $100. Early bird registration will end May 15!

Find Your Style

Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color

I have launched a weeklong workshop to take place October 1-6, 2017 in Manteo, NC at the Dare County Arts Council. It is Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color.

In the last blog post, I mentioned that techniques are the most preferred reason to attend a weeklong workshop. Finding a style is also at the top of the list.

horse, color, light, acrylic, acrylic workshop, acrylic painting

This gorgeous horse titled “Spring’s A Poppin’ ” by Cat Slusser is a great example of Cat’s exuberant mark-making and love of color and light.

My weekly students often lament, “ I don’t know what my style is.” “ I’m all over the place.” “ I don’t know what I’m doing.” All of which is simply a sign of frustration. This is perfectly normal for beginner students and surprisingly very common for experienced painters, especially anyone who likes to try everything! You’ve heard that term “body of work?” Developing a consistent body of work will accelerate the ability to see a certain style, plus it will give artists work that is ready to exhibit. Exhibit and membership jurors love consistency.

dog, dog art, acrylic, acrylic workshop, acrylic painting

“Pedigreed Pedicure” by Shirley Silberman. Shirley has a background in drawing and cartooning which is often a subtle element in her paintings, making them instantly recognizable as Shirley’s work

I think it is common as a student to want to copy what others do and it is a great way to learn. Artists have studied by copying the masters for decades. Breaking out of that habit of copying can be so difficult, it is such a feeling of success!  Yet continuing to copy inhibits the ability to find your own voice. Like a fingerprint, every single painter has their own unique style. Let’s explore ways to loosen up. Allow your own voice to sing in your art. 

Paint Along, acrylic, acrylic painting, acrylic workshop,

These Paint Along participants each brought their own voice to their work, even when following the same demonstration.

In this workshop each student will set specific goals to help them recognize their style. Together we will develop a plan to pursue during the week. Students will learn to self-evaluate, using very specific questions so they can begin to see their strengths. I’m pretty sure most students have no trouble identifying their weaknesses, but we want to focus on the positive! Shirley (Pedigreed Pedicure, above) had always identified her cartooning as a weakness in her art, when in fact, it turned out to be her greatest strength AND the cornerstone of her style. 

Would you like to learn more about this workshop? Check out this link                                           Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color.

If you prefer to avoid links, then look under workshops on the website menu.

I’d love to see you there!

p.s. Save $100. Early bird registration will end May 15!


Learn Techniques

 Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color

It’s official. I have launched a weeklong workshop to take place in Manteo, NC at the Dare County Arts Council. October 1-6, 2017. 

I began planning by asking my local students what they would want out of an out of town workshop. After all workshops come with expenses attached…supplies, lodging, and food are the big items. For those who work, it’s a vacation. Spending that kind of money and time away, it had better be worthwhile. The answers I received were varied, but on the top of every list was (drumroll, please) : techniques. 

acrylic, rose, painting, art class, acrylic class, acrylic workshop

Martha using transparent layers over a burnt sienna underpainting. She is using acrylics to mimic a traditional oil painting technique known as glazing.

I’m not surprised. That is why so many students come to me in the first place. To learn about color, but also to learn HOW, how to mix paint, how to blend, how to layer, how to paint a background, how to deal with fast-drying acrylics. The list is long. So I’m including how-to lessons to start every morning in this workshop. 

acrylic printmaking, acrylic, art class, acrylic workshop, adele castillo art

MaryKatherine has taken her old palette paper and squished it onto watercolor papers, making a print. She’s taken this easy solution to leftover paints and created individual quote cards. Yes, the hand lettering is all hers!

Of course, there will be much more. I’ll cover another element of the workshop in the next post. 

Would you like to read more about the workshop? Check out this link on my website. Capture Your Style, Capture Your Color. If you prefer to avoid links, then look under workshops on my site menu. 

I’d love to see you there! 

p.s. Save $100. Early bird registration will end May 15!

p.p.s. Do you have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask. You can find my contact form on my website, or simply email