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by Jean Bell July 15, 2018 4 min read

Are you new to acrylics and feeling a bit overwhelmed? Hey, we all start somewhere - even Da Vinci was a beginner once!

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to embark on your acrylic painting journey. We’ll also provide some ideas for acrylic paintings that you can try once you’ve mastered the basics.

Why Use Acrylics?

Why do so many beginning painters choose acrylics? Why not oil paints?

Both mediums have their own unique benefits and challenges, and the only way to find out what painting style you prefer is to try them both - most people like to start out with acrylics simply because they're versatile and don't require the same investment as oil colour - which require solvents.

Acrylic is an adaptable medium. You can safely paint with acrylics on just about anything - paper, cardboard, wood, a ceramic pot—you name it.

You’ll hear a lot about how acrylics are more convenient to use than oil paints, but that’s generally down to drying times. Acrylic dries quickly so you can mix and blend colours on a palette or canvas as you go. A stay wet palette is a great addition to your start-up.

Acrylic Painting Basics

Easy to learn, there’s no limit to what you can create with acrylics. But before you can start making masterpieces, you’ll need the right supplies.

  • Brushes: Acrylic is suitable for use with a whole range of brushes including synthetic, nylon and bristle.

 

  • Sponge: A small sponge is a great way to dab paint and add texture to a piece. Sponging techniques are perfect for creating textured foliage or adding detail.

 

  • Palette Knife: A palette knife is handy for both painting in thick, textured strokes and for mixing colours. When using a palette knife, use undiluted paint or heavy body acrylic for the best results.

 

Acrylic Painting Techniques

Now that you’ve got everything ready to roll, it’s time to put paint to paper. Here are some basic painting techniques to get you started.

 

  • Dry Brushing: Most people start with a simple dry brush technique, which is exactly what it sounds like - applying paint to a dry canvas using a dry brush. Use this technique to create bold, clean lines or add a brush-like texture.

 

  • Wet on Wet: Remember how we said that acrylics dry fast? It's still possible to get a nice blend if you work quickly to apply paint which can be diluted with water to increase the flow. If you’re still having trouble, you can slow down the drying process by using an acrylic retarder and create a similar wet on wet effect.

 

  • Glazing: Glazing is a more advanced technique you can use to add shine and brightness to your paintings by applying a thin mix of colour or even just plain water. Personally, I prefer to use a glazing medium for more consistent results.

 

5 Acrylic Painting Ideas You Have to Try

If you’re anything like me, you have a hoard of art supplies you’ve hardly touched or never even used because you just don’t know what to do with them.

Don’t let your blank canvases and unopened tubes of paint collect dust - get inspired by these ideas for acrylic paintings and put your art supplies to good use!

 

  1. Striking Silhouettes: Painting a solid-coloured silhouette of a person, animal or object is a great way for beginners to get a feel for the medium. Instead of worrying about the tiny details, all you need to do is focus on creating a well-defined shape that stands out against the background.

 

  1. Go Impasto: The impasto technique is used to add texture to paintings - it was famously used by Van Gogh in pieces like Vases with Pink Roses. While Van Gogh used oil paints, you can use thick layers of acrylic paint to create the same 3D effect.

 

Van Gogh 

  1. Make it Pop with Pop Art: Love comics? Then take a look at the work of Roy Lichtenstein, whose iconic pop art was inspired by American comic books. By using dark lines and bright colours, he created art that, well, popped!

 

Roy Lichtenstein

  1. Embrace the Abstract: Acrylics have been a popular medium for abstract art throughout the 20th century - famous abstract artists like Morris Louis used them to express ideas and emotions through their work. There is no right or wrong way to create abstract art, so let loose and take a crack at it!

Morris Louis 

  1. Take a Stab at a Self-Portrait: Andy Warhol used acrylic paint and silkscreen ink to create his iconic self-portraits. Try creating your own self-portrait using the same bright, saturated colours.

Andy Warhol

Explore Our Wide Selection of Acrylic Paints  

Now that you’ve got the basics down and have some ideas for acrylic paintings in mind, all that’s left to do is stock up on the right art supplies.
Check out our wide range of high-quality paints to find everything you need to become an acrylic aficionado!

Acrylic paint texture images by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Jean Bell
Jean Bell


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