Photo caption: Acrylic paint is a flexible medium that allows artists to quickly express their power and their vision on canvas. Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay.
There is so much versatility and freedom when it comes to acrylic paint. It’s water-based, fast-drying, and offers countless artistic possibilities that add intriguing texture, form, and color to your art.
Some people might be put off by it at first, intimidated by it’s quick drying time or suspicious of it’s potentially “plastic” look and feel. But despite this, acrylic can be a powerful and impactful medium if you use it in the right way.
The key is to know how to approach it and take advantage of these qualities, because they can set the beginning of your painting up for tremendous success!
These easy acrylic painting tips will help beginners get a handle on how to use this medium. That said, even the most advanced acrylic artist is sure to find something here, too.
Acrylic paint offers you an amazing opportunity to be free, expressive, and transcendent in your art.
The pressure to be accurate or to make beautiful marks the first time is lifted because you don’t have to worry about your colors getting muddy, or having to stare at a mistake for a long time before you’re able to cover it.
This way, you won’t have to risk discouragement by looking at something you’re not pleased with. While there’s something to be said for hard work and determination when you’re learning how to use a new art medium, it’s also good to try to reduce the chance that you’ll be discouraged unnecessarily. Acrylic paint makes this possible.
Another great thing about acrylic paint is that it comes in a wide array of colors so you can create a color palette that is unique to you. Keep in mind that going over acrylic with oil paint will really add life to the piece.
For example, fluorescent colors are widely available in acrylic. They may look garish at first, but with oils glazed over top, the piece really comes alive. Illuminated depth will shine through your painting, and it will glow from within!
Finally, acrylics are a flexible medium if you want to work with mixed media techniques, like collage. In this case, acrylic’s quick drying time allows for agility of expression and movement.
Some great sidekicks for acrylic are a spray bottle of water, a spray bottle of alcohol, and a medium called “retarder,” which slows the drying time of acrylic paint.
The spray bottle of water is incredibly useful for helping the paint move and blend into beautiful forms on the surface of the canvas. It creates lively drips, and swirls, which have a powerful emotional impact on the viewer.
The spray bottle of alcohol can be used on the paint when it’s still slightly wet to add interesting texture to the color on the canvas.
Acrylics are also great for washes, because it’s a quick way to get rid of the white of your canvas and add movement and flow to the background. As students in our Mastery Program know, we often recommend getting rid of the white of the canvas before they start to paint.
Since you can paint over acrylic with oils, it’s often easier to coat the canvas with acrylics first, even if you ultimately want to paint with oils.
Video caption: Learn how to use rollers and water to add texture to your acrylic paintings.
Retarder, as mentioned above, slows the drying time of acrylic. This makes it easier to work with and blend.
The paint will still dry fast compared to oils, so it offers a nice balance of having adequate workability while still allowing for quick and intuitive decisions and changes.
Retarder is also a perfect medium to glaze with. Glazing is a technique that utilizes transparent or semitransparent colors mixed with a glazing medium (like retarder). This creates a layer of color that still shows the layers beneath.
Using a dark transparent color is a great way to block in the darkest parts of your subject after you’ve put down your initial wash.
Even after laying down large brushstrokes and blocking in the subject, you can move on to smaller details with the acrylic paint. Here, the retarder really comes in handy to help you achieve precision in your blending.
Although many beginning artists feel intimidated by acrylic paints due to the medium’s quick drying time, they shouldn’t be. As with any other art medium, art students must sometimes work with acrylic paints in order to really master them. However, the payoff for such hard work is stunningly powerful paintings that express your true artistic voice.
Implementing these tips will open up so many more possibilities in your art, and you’ll have a newfound appreciation of acrylic paint. Be free, be intuitive, and create beautiful work!
If you’d like to learn more about painting with acrylic paints, why not try a free one-month membership to the Milan Art Institute’s Art Club? This social learning platform offers plenty of art tutorials to help you up your art game.
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