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Things Every Beginner Should Know About Painting with Acrylics

Lesson One: Understanding the Medium

Of the many acrylic lessons you will certainly learn, many would argue that the first lesson should be understanding the medium itself.

Simply put, what is acrylic paint? The answer is a water-soluble medium made from a synthetic resin binder mixed with pigments. The water soluble aspect of acrylic paints means that a painting dries quickly and you do not have to use solvents to dilute the paint or for cleaning brushes or a palette.

All Dry! After an acrylic painting on canvas dries the surface becomes water resistant, and a canvas can be rolled up and stored with no fear of cracking or damaging. This is all in contrast to oil paints, which need to be thinned with solvents, take much longer to dry and harden as they do so, making them quite fragile and not so easily transported. This medium can be an exciting prospect because acrylics have so much versatility.

You’ll notice when painting with acrylic paint that they dry to a flat finish. But mediums abound that can be added to the paints to:
-Increase luminosity and surface shine
– Get a matte or semi-matte finish
– Create watercolor-like transparent washes
-Thicken acrylics for more noticeable brushstrokes as you put acrylic paint on canvas

Getting Started

To get started, a few acrylic painting basics include choosing a painting surface that does not contain oil or wax, to which acrylic paints just won’t adhere. Also, certain pigments aren’t always available by the same name from acrylic paint manufacturers. The brand of paint you choose will likely have the colors you want, but you just may have to search through a few name variations.

Another of our tips is try to resist mixing pigments too much or adding more than two or three colors to a mix because you run the risk of muddying your acrylic paints. Also, when acrylic paint is first put down, colors can look lighter than and not as bold as they will when they dry, so be patient as you first start out.
To get you in the painting mindset here are our 5 Top Tips for Acrylic Painting!

  1. Acrylics dry super quick, so embrace your inner speed demon. Paint fluidly and embrace layers!
  2. In almost every case, acrylic paints are more affordable than oil paints so if you are a painter starting out or considering a gift for a new artist, go with acrylics!
  3. Work on any surface you want. Acrylics adhere to pretty much any surface without peeling.
  4. Acrylics dry darker than they appear when first put down.
  5. Use acrylics straight from the tube for intense color or as a thin fluid for when you want to drip, pour, or use it in an airbrush.

Having Fun with Acrylic Paints: Painting Outdoors (Tips & Guidance)

Once you feel like you have a familiarity with how to use acrylic paint in your art, take your acrylic paints outdoors! It’s a thrilling and exciting way to explore acrylic painting. You’ll want to remember that because acrylic paints dry very quickly, especially when you are painting outdoors, you may want to:
-Keep a spray bottle of water on hand to keep the paints moist.
-Remember not to squeeze out a ton of paint on your palette so it doesn’t dry out and end up wasted.
-Get a stay-wet palette.

If you want to learn more about the acrylic painting techniques that you can use when painting the landscape or cityscape, check outMastering Acrylic Painting with Marcia Burtt as she paints ocean waves and palm trees in sunny California, or John Harrell’s DVD onPainting Scenes from the City. Plus Stephen Quiller’s acrylic landscape painting digital download gives you immediate access to professional art instruction on landscape painting with acrylic paint, so you’ll be all set for using acrylic paint outdoors because of the acrylic painting lessons that Quiller shares based on his own painting experiences.

Next Steps

If you are more content to stay in the studio while exploring your acrylic painting techniques, consider taking the still life as your subject, or using acrylic paint with a more decorative mindset. There are many specialty acrylic colors and pigments out there:

– iridescent colors
– fluorescents
– glimmering metallics

You can take any ideas you have and ramp them up for artworks that are really eye catching if you use these special mixes.