Back To Basics – Painting With Acrylics

Acrylic paints are a real godsend to almost every artist.

It’s the real chameleon of the art world. This modern paint can be used to mimic the appearance of oils or watercolor; it’s permanent, easy to clean and widely available in a broad range of colors and price points. Since it’s a plastic polymer, acrylic paint can also be used in mixed media projects and can act as an adhesive to add dimensional ephemera to your work.

Start With A Basic Set Of Colors

There are about a zillion colors available from many, many manufacturers. However, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get started with acrylic painting. It’s easiest to just purchase a basic set and then add additional colors as your interest and experience grows.

Buy the best quality you can afford. Inexpensive paints have more filler and are less intense than quality paints. They may also be less vibrant and appear dull in comparison to other brands of paints.

I would say that the majority of painters use heavy body paint. The more liquid soft body acrylic paints are suitable for airbrush, and they’re good for craft products. There are loads of colors available, and they’re fun – just not the same quality you get from a name brand, professional paint.


Choose The Right Brushes For The Job

You don’t need a lot of brushes when you paint. However, when you’re just beginning, it’s fun and useful to try out the different sizes and shapes available to see what works best for you and your style.

Do not buy the cheapest brushes you find. That ‘I’m just a beginner’ stuff has no bearing here. When you work with junk, you’ll have a very difficult time producing good results. A good brush makes a big difference in the quality of your workmanship.

A few rounds, a couple of flats and a detail brush or two are all you really need to get started.


Mediums, Additives, Texturizers And Water

If you want your acrylic painting to look like a watercolor, you can go ahead and add water to your paint. The more you add, the more transparent it will be. However, there are lots of other products you can add to your acrylic paint. Here are a few of the types of products you can use:

Gloss Or Matte Medium – Add one of these products to your paint to give it more shine or to keep the shine away. It also makes the paint thinner. Mix both for a semi-gloss appearance.

Gel Medium And Modeling Paste – These products thicken your paint. The gel medium enhances the adhesive quality of your paint so that you can use it in collage. Modeling paste is really thick and allows you to build up three-dimensional effects with your paint.

Flow Improver – Water used to thin acrylic paints dilutes the intensity of the pigment in your paint. Flow improver thins the paint without reducing the pigment strength or diminishing the finish of the paint. You’ll find it maintains the intensity of your colors while allowing the paint to spread more easily.

Texture Gel – These products imitate different textures like sand, stucco and glass beads. This line of products is great for easily adding texture and interest to backgrounds and focal points.

Retarding Medium – If you want to slow down the drying time of your paint, adding this to your palette allows you to spend time blending your paint without fear of it hardening before you’re ready.


What Painting Support Is Right For You?

Acrylic paint adheres to just about anything from your wall to your aluminum siding to your face or even your cat. However, most of us will use customary and accepted painting surfaces for most of our work.

You can use watercolor paper, if you’re going for the watercolor look, but if you plan on using the product straight from the tube, you’ll need something that can hold up to the weight of the paint.

Students often use canvas boards or canvas textured paper pads to practice their craft. These products are inexpensive and a good way to get started.

When you’re more adept and want to use a professional quality support, stretched canvas and wood panels are most commonly used by working artists.

Don’t forget, if you don’t like the way a canvas turns out, you can always apply a couple coats of gesso and reuse your less-than-masterful masterpiece.


Don’t be afraid to jump right in and take the plunge to start painting with acrylics. Cruise the internet for beginning acrylic painting videos and give it a try – you know you want to!

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