Boosting Your Oils With Acrylics and Spying on Italian Pugs

Italian Light Sunflower Blooming
Italian Light Sunflower Blooming, 14X14, mixed media on textured paper


I’m a firm believer that pets in the studio add more joy to painting. Do you have pets in the studio and, if so, do you find that to be true? I think the most difficult thing about teaching overseas is the separation from my three little four footed pug helpers, their snorty background noise is such a comfort. In Italy last week, the hubby spotted a fat little pug snoring away on a porch just a stone’s throw from where I teach my class at the monastery near Sant’Angelo in Vado. Each day when it was time to begin painting, I’d sneak away to peek over the fence to see if this round little hound was napping outdoors. More often than not, he was indoors, where the smells of home-cooked Italian food would roll out the window, enough to tempt both humans and pugs, too, as they are, of course, the “foodies” of the dog kingdom!

I’ve been known to embarrass myself and the hubby, chasing after strangers in foreign lands who just happened to be walking pugs in public places. I’m particularly embarrassed about scaring a young girl at the beach in Italy last July. She was walking a gorgeous, fat little pug, and I’m sure the child was convinced I was that terrifying stranger her mom had warned her about since birth, shrieking at her in a foreign language and gesticulating wildly at her dog. Then there was Droopy the pug, in Cahors, France, who required a great deal of hugging and kissing, (with his mom’s permission), even though Droopy was redolent. He may have never been bathed in his life but he was still utterly, completely irresistable. And there was Penelope, the proper little pug in a pink designer harness, being walked by her extremely well coiffed British mum and dad in St. Cirq Lapopie. Their eyebrows shot up as I explained we had four of these babies at home. I’m shameless when it comes to pugs in foreign lands. What happens in Europe, stays in Europe!

Another thing that happened in Europe last week, not far from where that little Italian pug was snoozing, was a mixed media painting lesson. I packed away a few of my favorite acrylics for my class in Sant’Angelo in Vado to try out. I love for my students to step outside the comfort zone at least one day, and try a new medium. I gave the oil painters acrylics, and the acrylic painters oil paints, and set them loose upon a textured canvas to create an abstract under painting. Acrylics are such intense colors, when used as an under painting for oils, they boost the color one more level. I love almost all the Golden acrylic colors, but some of the yummiest acrylics I’ve found are by Sennelier. Not to tempt you to buy more paint, but a few of my favorite Sennelier acrylics include: cobalt teal, light turquoise, blue light and light violet. Try them out as underpaintings for your oils – or add them to your acrylic repertoire – and let me know what you think!

Here’s a peek at some of my Italy students last week, stretching their color wings with acrylic abstracts and silk scarves. Enjoy!

PS – See all the sights of Italy in my new monthly online class, The Joyful Brush, in Petal Perks! Learn more here…


No Italian pugs were kidnapped, though this one was shamelessly spied upon!


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Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


  1. For the last month I have been experimenting with painting underglazes on stone ware. Because of the change after firing this medium is very challenging to me

    • That’s awesome Kathleen, I hope you’ll share an image after you’re done! I’d love to see!

    • Laurel let me know what you think after you give it a try! I think it’s going to be the perfect complement to your style! xo

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