Acrylic Painting 101

Acrylic paint is very versatile as well as fast-drying. You can use it right from the tube or add water or another thinner to it and use like watercolors. For those who are new to the use of this material, Acrylic Painting 101 offers a few tips to help you get started.

1. Keep your paints in working condition

Acrylic paints dry very fast, so make sure you only squeeze a little paint out of your tube at one time. If you are using a plastic palette while you are painting use a plastic spray bottle to regularly spray a fine mist over the paint so that it will remain moist. Another option is using stay-wet palettes that sit on a sheet of wax paper atop a damp piece of watercolor paper. Though these types of palettes eliminate the need for spraying the paint, they also lack a hole for your thumb which makes them more difficult to hold than an ordinary plastic palette.

2. Blot your brushes

While you are painting keep a paper towel or cloth next to your jar of water so that you can wipe your brushes on them after you use them. If you get into the habit of doing this you will decrease the chances of water drops getting on your painting and creating blotches.

3. Opaque or transparent

The effect of your colors depends upon how you treat the paint when you prepare to use it. If you use it straight from the tube or with very little water you create an opaque effect while diluting it with water allows you to use it like water colors or for airbrushing.

4. Acrylic vs. Watercolor washes

There are advantages to both methods, but you need to understand the difference. An acrylic wash is permanent when it dries, is insoluble and you can paint over it without worrying about disturbing the original wash. All future washes will mix optically with prior washes while a watercolor glaze can be removed with a damp cloth.

5. Think thin when you're thinking about glazes

If you want to achieve a transparent glaze, it's necessary to build it in thin layers. You will achieve a glassy surface if you use a heavy layer.

6. Improve the flow of your colors without losing the strength of your colors

If you use a flow-control medium instead of just water you will be able to increase the flow of your color without losing any of its strength.

7. How to blend acrylic paints

Because of the fast-drying nature of acrylic paints, you must work quickly to blend colors. If you're working on paper you can dampen it to increase your working time.

8. Hard edges

Masking tape is an excellent way to create edging because it is easy to apply and remove from dried acrylic paint. Make sure the tape is firmly secured in place and do not paint too thick along the edges or your line will not be clean when you remove the tape.

9. Washing up liquid with masking fluid

You can use masking fluid with both acrylic washes and watercolors. When this material dries in a brush it is extremely difficult to remove. If you dip your brush into some washing-up liquid first will allow you to wash the masking fluid from your brush much easier.

10. Using acrylic paint as a glue for collage

You can use acrylic paint as glue in a collage if it is used thickly and the item you are trying to glue is not very heavy.