5 tips for How to Paint with Acrylics

Uncategorized Mar 25, 2020

Once you start to paint with acrylics, you might discover that they are your new favorite medium. In this article I will show you 5 easy ways for how to paint with acrylics.

Before we start, you should know that acrylic paint is water based. Because of this, you will find it to be one of the most forgiving mediums. When there is something you did that you don’t like, there are two things that you can do: either you can rub it out with water or just wait about five minutes for it to dry and paint over it. If the mistakes keep piling up and it seems like you’ve reached a point of no return, you can just cover the whole piece and start over. Unlike oils, you can put a layer of modeling paste, or house paint and just restart with a clean slate.

Acrylic paint is so incredibly versatile, which is one of the reasons I love using it so much. When starting with a wash, acrylics run beautifully in all kinds of colors. Both transparents and opaques. You can use iridescence, golds and silvers too. You can even mix acrylics with inks to create a fun and interesting effect. When applying a wash to your canvas or paper, you will want to be generous with the amount of water you brush on the canvas. When you paint with acrylics on canvas, the colors bleed and flow very fast with the water. So if you want things to drip and run down the surface apply more water. There are a ton of fluorescent acrylic colors that add a strong glow as you layer more paint on top. Adding oils on top of your acrylics is one of the best ways to create dynamic and dramatic color to your paintings.

Now let's say you want to paint a landscape starting with acrylics. A lot of students at Milan Art Institute ask how to paint trees in acrylic. Starting with a gentle, light wash, you would next move on to placing in darks and more details where there are the shadows. To make the paint spread further you can use an acrylic retarder that will decrease the drying time. It will also thicken the paint so it will act more like oil paint and you can use subtraction techniques to get more details. After putting in those darks you can move on to adding midtones and highlights, so make sure you finalize the details and add finishing touches to your acrylic tree.

You might be wondering if there are special brushes that are designed for acrylics and the answer is yes. They are great to have because it helps you keep your brushes cleaner when you have them for a specific medium. Also, it's easier to have assigned brushes for painting clouds in acrylic or maybe you want to paint flowers in acrylic. The more brushes the better! But it isn’t completely necessary to have these specific brushes, you can get along just fine with oil brushes for acrylics. However, when oil paint gets in a brush it's not as easy to clean and to remove the oils from it. So if you then use that brush as an acrylic brush it will mix the oil in with the acrylic and the bristles will not be as soft. You will want to make sure you also do not leave your brushes out while they are wet because the paint will dry and it will become very difficult to bring them back to being soft. At the same time leaving a brush in water is also bad because it will get under the metal part attached to the bristles and make it so the glue gets removed and the hair will just fall off. So you want to wash your brushes in the sink with soap when you are all finished panting and then drying them.

There are many different reasons you should paint with acrylics! They are incredibly fun and forgiving, so I highly recommend you give them a try. Make sure you tag us on Instagram or Facebook so we can see your wonderful creations.


Dalia Milan
Professional Artist

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