Ready to embark on your acrylic painting journey but feeling a little lost? Or perhaps you’ve already begun but could use some guidance along the way. Acrylic paints are a fantastic choice for beginners. They are user-friendly, dry quickly, and won’t break the bank compared to oils or watercolors. To help you get started and enjoy the creative process, here are 25 simple acrylic painting tips that will set you on the right path.
Acrylic Paint: Enhance Your Skills
1. Opt for Professional-Grade Paints
If your budget allows, invest in professional-grade paints rather than craft paints. These paints have a higher pigment concentration, making blending easier and providing better coverage. Don’t worry if professional paints are out of reach; many major brands offer student-grade paints that work well for beginners.
2. Quick-Drying Nature of Acrylic Paints
One advantage of acrylics is their fast drying time. This means you won’t have to wait for days for layers to dry, as you would with oil paints. However, it can be tricky if you want to blend colors. To overcome this, work swiftly with acrylics or use a drying time extender specifically designed for this purpose.
3. Master the Art of Color Mixing
Learning to mix your own colors will save you money and expand your range of hues. By understanding the color theory, you can create any color using the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Check out my post on color theory to deepen your understanding.
4. Consider the Drying Shade
Keep in mind that acrylic paint often dries slightly darker than it appears when wet. Cheaper paints with less pigment and more filler tend to dry even darker. Take this into account when planning your color palette.
5. Start with Basic Colors
When getting started, it’s advisable to begin with a basic set of colors: red, blue, yellow, black, white, and an earthy tone like burnt umber. As you progress, you can mix additional colors as needed. Consider purchasing starter sets, like the one from Liquitex, to kickstart your collection.
6. Enhancing Opacity of Craft-Type Paints
If you’re using cheaper craft-type paints due to budget constraints or availability, you can add a touch of white to increase their opacity. Cheaper paints often have less pigment, resulting in more transparency. However, adding white will lighten the paint, so be mindful of achieving the desired tone by using a slightly darker paint or layering multiple coats.
Brushes: The Artist’s Essential Tool
7. Proper Brush Care
After each painting session, clean your brushes with mild soap and water. Dried paint can be extremely challenging to remove. Lay your brushes flat to dry, as water getting into the ferrule can loosen the glue and cause the wood to swell or the lacquer to peel on the handle. Avoid leaving brushes sitting in water for extended periods.
8. Correct Brush Storage
Store your brushes with the bristles facing upward to prevent them from becoming splayed and bent. Ensure they are clean and dry before storing them in a jar or container.
9. Synthetic Brushes for Acrylic Painting
When it comes to acrylic painting, synthetic brushes are recommended. Look for brushes that strike a balance between stiffness and softness. While expensive brushes aren’t necessary, avoid cheap dollar-store brushes as they tend to shed hair and have bristles that separate quickly.
10. Start with a Few Essential Brushes
To begin your acrylic painting journey, a few brushes will suffice. Filbert brushes, with their flat, oval-shaped bristles, are a great starting point. Acquire brushes in different sizes, and consider including a larger flat wash brush and a fine detail brush in your collection. Beginner-friendly brush sets are widely available and reasonably priced.
11. Utilize a Palette Knife for Paint Mixing
Palette knives are practical and affordable tools for both mixing and painting. If you don’t have a palette knife, you can use alternatives like a plastic knife, an old credit card, or a craft stick. Check out my post on how to use a palette knife for more insights.
Additional Painting Tips
12. Avoid Comparisons
Remember, your art journey is unique to you. It’s unfair to compare your beginner work with those who have been painting for years. Embrace your own progress and avoid self-criticism.
13. Sign and Date Your Artwork
Even for your initial attempts at painting, sign and date your artwork. This act reinforces your identity as an artist and provides a reference point to track your growth over time.
14. Capture Your Art with Photographs
Taking pictures of your artwork serves as a visual record and can be utilized for social media posts, online portfolios, and web pages.
15. Document Your Process
Make notes as you paint, recording details such as color mixing techniques, compositions you liked, sources of inspiration, and acquired knowledge. These notes will prove invaluable in future painting sessions.
16. Rectify Mistakes with Gesso
If you make mistakes and want to start over, covering most paintings with a coat or two of gesso is usually effective. Refer to my post on how to gesso a canvas for step-by-step instructions.
17. Embrace Consistent Practice
Improving your painting skills is a gradual process. The more you paint, the better you become. Aim to paint something every day, even if it’s just experimenting with blocks of color or random shapes. This regular practice will foster comfort and familiarity with brushes and paints.
18. Gain Perspective by Stepping Back
Take breaks and step away from your painting frequently. Viewing it from a couple of feet away offers a fresh perspective, allowing you to evaluate the overall composition and assess color harmony.
19. Keep a Spray Bottle Handy
Mist your paints with water to maintain their moisture and prevent premature drying. You can also mist your painting surface to keep your paints blendable. Opt for a spray bottle with a fine mist sprayer to avoid large water droplets.
20. Master the Art of Blending
Blending with acrylics can be challenging due to their quick-drying nature. Wet-into-wet blending requires planning, ensuring you apply and blend the colors swiftly before they dry.
21. Experiment with Different Surfaces
Although canvas is the typical choice, feel free to explore other surfaces that paint adheres to, such as wood or paper. The possibilities are endless! In fact, my first painting was done on an old ceiling tile. Refer to my post on unique painting surfaces for inspiring ideas.
22. Tackle Large Areas First
When approaching a painting, work on large areas first and then focus on smaller details. This approach saves paint since acrylics dry rapidly. Additionally, using a diluted wash of paint to cover the white canvas before starting the actual painting can be beneficial.
23. Two Jars of Water
Keep two jars of water at hand—one for cleaning your brushes and the other for diluting your paint. Any jar, such as a large mason jar, will suffice. Brush basins for cleaning brushes are unnecessary expenses.
24. Utilize a Color Wheel
Purchase a color wheel to enhance your color mixing skills and assist you in selecting harmonious color palettes for your paintings.
25. Seek Guidance and Ask Questions
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and advice. Most paint manufacturers offer valuable resources such as fact sheets and instructional videos on their websites. They’re usually happy to assist if you email them with your queries. Check out these paint manufacturers for further guidance: Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, and Golden.
I hope you found these acrylic painting tips helpful for your artistic journey. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you. Additionally, don’t forget to join our private Facebook group, Trembeling Art Creative Corner. It’s a vibrant community open to all art enthusiasts, where you can share your work, ask questions, and engage with artists of all skill levels. Everyone is welcome! 😊
Thanks for reading,