The acrylic painting medium is fairly new and has only been around since the 1950’s. Since then, it has continually been under development and refinement. Acrylic paint is highly favored amongst artists because of its versatility. It can be applied in a thick fashion as an impasto having rich texture or in washes mimicking the characteristics of watercolor. Another likable characteristic of acrylic paint is its permanence. Unlike oil paints, acrylic paint is not susceptible to yellowing or hardening with age. With acrylic paint, the artist does not need to be concerned with the order the paint is applied or other special techniques that ensure the paint film remains free from cracking.
So now that you know a bit more about the acrylic painting medium, I am sure you want to get started. This beginners guide to acrylic painting will provide you with all of the information and resources that you need to get started and improve your painting skills.
Acrylic Painting Supplies
The first thing you are going to need to get started is your painting supplies of course. With acrylics, there is no need to go overboard on supplies. All that is really needed is a good quality paint set, a few brushes and a canvas or other support. Since acrylic paint is a water based painting medium, there is no need for any special mediums. All you need to change the consistency of acrylic paints is plain old water. Clean up is a cinch as well. Your brushes can be cleaned with plain old soap and water.
I recommend the following paint set for beginners. The paints included in this set are of good quality and contain more than enough colors for beginners:
When choosing your paint brushes, do not buy cheap brushes! It is not worth it just to save a few bucks. Nothing compares to the control and feel of a good brush. I like to work with Robert Simmons brushes. I have been using them for several years now and they never let me down. If you take care of them, they will last for a long time. Below is a link to where you can buy them. These brushes are called ROBERT SIMMONS Simply Simmons Value Brush Sets and just like the name implies, these brushes are a great value. There are a variety of different sets below that cater to different needs and painting styles. Choose one or a few and enjoy!
Caring For Brushes
Learning how to properly care for your brushes is one of the most important aspects of painting. You should clean your brushes thoroughly after each painting session and here is how.
Step 1 – Using a soft cloth, wipe off the excess paint. This is done by gently squeezing the brush from the top of the ferrule toward the end of the brush with your soft cloth. Do not pull too hard as you can remove hairs and damage your brush.
Step 2 – Once you have all of the excess paint removed, wash the brushes in a mild soap and water. You want to wash the brush until you remove as much paint as humanly possible. I recommend using MASTERS Brush Cleaner and Preserver. This is a wonderful product and is very popular amongst the art community. Not only does it thoroughly clean acrylic brushes, but it also helps preserve your brushes making them last longer. Below is a link to where you can purchase this cleaner online:
Step 3 – Once you are sure that you have removed as much paint as possible and any excess water, dip the brush into a tiny bit of the preserver and shape it back to its original form.
Step 4 – Let your brushes dry at room temperature and do not let them dry resting on the head of the brush. This will cause the brush to dry out of shape. I leave my brushes standing up with the heads facing the ceiling in a large empty coffee can.
A support is the surface that you paint on. Stretched canvas, canvas board, canvas paper and even wood can be used as supports. Whatever surface you decide to use, make certain that the surface is prepared to accept the acrylic paint. This preparation process is known as “sizing”. Sizing is when you apply a product like gesso or primer (otherwise known as a “ground”) which seals the surface making it less absorbent. Most supports that you will purchase will already be prepared for painting, so chances are you won’t have to do any preparation on your own. In the beginning when you are just experimenting, it is best to use a less expensive support until you become more experienced. Below are some excellent choices:
Other Tools & Supplies
A Palette is a surface that you use to lay out your colors for mixing and application. There are a wide variety of palettes for acrylic paints. Everything from glass to plastic can be used. My favorite palette to use by far is the Masterson Sta-Wet Painters Pal Palette. This palette solves a major problem with acrylic paints and that is their very fast drying time. On a normal palette your paints can begin to dry within minutes and whatever extra paint you have on your palette at the end of a painting session is wasted. With the Masterson Sta-Wet Palette, your paints will stay moist on the open palette for hours. Once you cover the palette with the included lid, your paints will stay moist and workable for days , possibly weeks. I have included a link below to where you can learn more about and purchase the Masterson Sta-Wet Palette:
Painting & Palette Knives
You may also wish to purchase other supplies to experiment with as you become more experienced with acrylic paint. Brushes are not the only tool that you can use to manipulate the paint around your support. Painting knives, while traditionally used with oil paints, can also be used with acrylics. Palette knives are made specifically for mixing paint on the palette where painting knives are used for moving paint around on your support. You may run into a problem using a painting knife with acrylic paint. Not all acrylic paints are ideal for working with a knife. Some have a thick, stiff and buttery consistency, while others are more runny. If you are using a runnier acrylic paint, and you are interested in working with painting knives, then you will need to use a special medium that will give your paint more body.
An atomizer is basically a spray bottle that you fill with water. You can use an atomizer to spray a very fine mist of water over your palette or canvas to keep your paints moist and workable.
Sponges are handy little tools to have available during your painting sessions. You can use sponges to spread out your paint over a large area or to create interesting effects with paint.
Acrylic Painting Lessons & Techniques
So you now have a better understanding of the supplies you are going to need to get started. Let’s put those supplies to good use by learning how to paint with acrylics! As stated in the beginning of this guide, acrylic paints are quite versatile opening the door to many exciting and interesting techniques.
Instead of trying to recreate the wheel so to speak, and discuss acrylic painting lessons and techniques in this post, I thought it would be much easier to just direct you to the many great lessons that are posted here on this blog and my other website Creativespotlite.com: