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It is best to invest in good quality materials when it comes to acrylic painting. You may be restricted by a budget, but if you invest in good paints and brushes you will save money over time. This is especially a must if you are wanting to sell your work.
Poor quality acrylic paint can often be translucent requiring you to lay down a lot of layers to get an opaque layer of color. For example, a cheap acrylic yellow is notoriously translucent. If you are painting yellow on your painting you will have to paint down multiple layers of the color before it stops showing whatever color or ground is beneath it.
If you are restricted by a budget, the good news is that you do not need a lot of colors right from the start! You could even start with a limited palette (red, blue, yellow, white and burnt umber). If you have a little more money left to purchase more colors you can get 12. However, you will never need much more than that as you will be able to mix your colors to get the specific colors you will need!
Supports – what to paint on
You have a wide range of surfaces available to paint on when it comes to acrylic painting. There is canvas, canvas board, paper, and MDF board.
Cotton – This is what most artists use for their acrylic paintings. It is a popular choice because of its weave and affordability. It can either be stretched over stretcher bars or glued down to a hard wood surface. When using acrylic paints you do not need to prime the surface of cotton canvas. This is because acrylic paint will not seep into the cloth like oil paint does. So, you can just get started right away painting on raw cotton canvas!
Canvas Board – These were initially made for painters to use outdoors. However, some use it consistently in and out of the studio as they are less likely to get damaged than stretched canvas. They are also typically easier to frame than a regular stretched canvas. However, often the surface of canvas boards can be very poor and cheaply made.
Paper – Paper is a great surface to use for acrylic painting! Just like cotton canvas you can apply acrylic paint directly to a paper surface. It can be a good affordable painting surface. Just be sure to get a proper heavyweight watercolor paper.
MDF – MDF board (medium density fiber board) is also a good option for an acrylic painting surface. It is available in most DIY stores. I have purchased some from a lumber store. The downside of this surface is that it can be very heavy. So, when it comes to framing and hanging up a painting… you need strong nails 😉 Just be sure to prime the MDF surface.
Keep your Paint Moist
Acrylics dry very fast, sometimes too fast! Especially if you are painting out of doors in a dry climate. If your acrylic paints are drying faster than you would like give your colors a little spray of water from time to time during your painting session. This is one of the best acrylic painting tips and will help to keep your colors moist! You can often find small spray bottles at a drug store, dollar store, or on Amazon!
Just be careful not to add too much water to your paint. Otherwise it might be difficult for the paint to adhere and or it will slough off the canvas. Keep the misting of your paint in moderation.
Blending with Acrylics
Oil paints are known for being ‘blend-able’, however you can blend with acrylics paints too! You just need to work a little quicker than usual to be able to blend paints since acrylic paints dry so quickly.
Paint wet paint on top of another layer of wet paint. Stroke the paint blending the two colors together.
Mixing Colors is Important
Learning how to mix colors is so important that you should spend more time mixing colors than on your actual painting.
If you don’t have it yet – grab my FREE Color Mixing Guide for helpful color mixing instructions and techniques!
Be sure to use your palette to mix your paints and not your canvas. Since acrylic paints dry so quickly you do not want to mix on your painting because your paints might dry before you are able to mix the desired color!
Acrylic Paint tends to darken as it dries
Acrylic paints have a tendency to darken as they dry. So, when you paint with acrylics keep this in mind!
When mixing your colors allow for a slight darkening. This darkening effect is more likely to happen with lighter colors than colors that are already dark. Over time you will gain more experience as to how your painting will darken which will allow you to make decisions on how to mix your colors.
Clean your brushes properly
It is very important that you wash your brushes after every painting session. Failing to do so will result in many ruined brushes! The acrylic paint will dry on your brushes rendering them unusable.
It can be quite time consuming to wash brushes after every painting session, especially if you paint very often. To save time you can instead submerge the tips of your brushes in a bowl of water. Try to keep your bristles as flat as possible as you do not want your brushes to lose their shape and fold. When you are ready to paint again, simply take the brushes out of the water and dry them on a paper towel.
Use large sized brushes
There are multiple advantages to using larger sized brushes when acrylic painting. They increase brushwork economy allowing you to cover more of the canvas in a shorter period of time. In addition, larger sized brushes make you think of each stroke more than when painting with smaller sized brushes.
It is a misconception that smaller sized brushes are used to create realistic painting. In fact the opposite is very much the case! The old masters used much larger brushes than you would expect.
It is important to simplify when painting. And nothing helps you to simplify more than using larger sized brushes. They help you to think in terms of the bigger picture instead of smaller details.
Recommended Acrylic Paints
Windsor and Newton Acrylic Paint Set
Golden Acrylic Paint Set