Acrylic Painting Tips For Beginners

by denisesanger on December 20, 2011

Acrylic paints are a relatively modern addition to the staple of tools that artists have at their disposal.  Acrylic paints offer a unique spectrum of versatility that simply cannot be matched by other painting mediums.  Although acrylic painting offers many benefits, it presents many challenge as well.  For a beginner, learning to paint with acrylic paints can be intimidating, however by following these 5 tips you will find that acrylic paints are an ideal medium for you to work in.

1.  Use a slow drying medium.  Acrylic paints are water based and dry very, very quickly.  Anyone who wants to be able to blend colors together will need to make use of a slow drying medium.  Although your paints will still dry fairly quickly while using a slow drying medium, you will have an added few seconds to work your paints that can make a huge difference.  You should also frequently add small amounts of water to the paints on your palette to keep them from drying.

2.  Work in layers.  While the fast drying time of acrylics paints can be a disadvantage, it can be very advantageous as well.  The fast drying time, and permanent nature of acrylic paints makes working in layers an ideal method to paint with them.  Oil paintings are traditionally done in many layers over the course of several weeks or even months.  When using acrylic paints you can achieve similar results in a matter of only days or hours.

3.  Experiment with a variety of techniques.  The main appeal of acrylic paints is their versatility.  You can dilute them down and work with them like watercolors, or you can work with thicker impasto techniques like you would with oil paints.  By experimenting with the versatility of the paints you can develop your own unique painting style that combines different techniques of both thin and thick paint application.

4.  Work on different surfaces.  Working on canvas with watercolor is difficult if not impossible.  Oil paints need a primed surface to work on.  Acrylics can be painted on virtually anything.  You can use paper, canvas, cardboard, and just about anything else that comes to minds.  As an artist you should embrace your creativity and explore the seemingly limitless options that acrylic paints provide to you.

5.  Clean your brushes thoroughly with soap and water.  High quality acrylic painting brushes are expensive.  While they will wear out in time, they will become ruined very quickly if they are not cleaned with soap and water.  While working on a painting you should keep your brushed in jar of water.  Once done you should clean them immediately.

Acrylic painting offers many great advantages for artists of all skill levels.  You can emulate the rich colors of oil paints without dealing with the toxic fumes for lengthy drying times.  You can also emulate watercolors, but can mix in both thick and thin painting techniques.  By experimenting with their great versatility, and remaining optimistic, you can develop a unique painting technique that takes advantage of the many opportunities that acrylic paints give you.


Learn To Paint With Acrylics Beginner Online Art Class

Learn To Paint With Acrylics Beginner Online Art Class

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen January 8, 2014 at 3:25 am

Hello. I used acrylic to paint an image on Bristol Board (unprimed) then discovered it warped a bit more than planned while I was working on it. Before painting, I taped the boarder of it to a Masonite board. Is there a way I can remove or reduce the warping in the Bristol Board? I read somewhere that I could use a hair dyer or mist water on the back of it then staple it to a stiff board to dry…any other suggestions? Thank you for your time.


Neadeen Masters February 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

Hi Kristen, unfortunately poster or Bristol board is porous and will absorb water making it stretch and buckle. Before painting, you can seal it with a good acrylic sealer and then proceed to paint. Yes taping will be helpful. But if you tape dry board and then wet it, the paper fibers will expand when wet and cause the buckling. Tape it after you have sealed the surface with acrylic sealer. Here is the brand I use. DecoArt Traditions Sealer


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