Do you want to start painting with acrylics but don’t know where to begin? Not to worry - acrylic paint is a fun and versatile type of paint that’s perfect for beginners! It’s cheaper than most mediums, it can mimic oil and watercolor paints, and it’s extremely easy to use. Here’s a short beginner’s guide to jumpstart your creative journey to using acrylic paint!
Learning About Acrylics
Acrylic paints are water-based paints made of pigments suspended in a binder of acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylics are generally non-toxic and do not emit any harsh or foul smells making it an excellent medium for environmentally and health conscious individuals.
When you’re using acrylic paint, you will notice that the paint dries very fast. You’ll need to work extra fast before the paint settles and always remember to keep your paint wet. The quick-drying feature can also work to your advantage as it’s much easier to cover up mistakes once the paint dries. Compared to oil or watercolor, you could say that acrylics tend to be more forgiving!
Tools of the Trade
You’ll need a few materials to get started painting with acrylics. Here’s a list of the essentials:
1. Acrylic Paint
There are two types of acrylic paint: student grade and artist grade. Artist quality acrylics are more heavy-bodied and pigmented than students’ quality - of course, they’re also more pricey. It’s recommended that beginners start with student-grade paint first and move up as they progress. Make sure to get a set with basic colors such as black, white, blue, red, and yellow. Starting out with primaries is a great way to learn how to mix colors!
2. Paint Brushes
Buy synthetic instead of natural hair paint brushes as these are better suited for acrylic paints. They hold paint well and won’t dry out the way natural brushes do. There are many different types of brushes used to achieve certain acrylic painting techniques. If you’re just starting, one large and small round brush and flat brush will suffice.
A palette is the surface where you place and mix your paints. Unfortunately, you can’t use just any surface if you’re using acrylic paints. Choose a non-stick palette made from glass, porcelain, or plastic, to place your paint in.
There are different types of support but the most traditional and popular one is the canvas. Your canvas can be made of linen or cotton and can come primed or unprimed for use - get the primed canvas if you’re just starting out! Other surfaces that can be used for acrylic painting include wood, metal, paper, artist panels, art boards, and more.
Once you’ve gathered all your materials, you’re ready to go to work on all your acrylic painting ideas!
Step 1: Set up your paint palette
Place the colors you’ll be using on your palette but make sure there is enough “white space” for each individual color so that the paints don’t mix.
Step 2: Mix your colors
Make sure you have black, white and all primary colors on your palette regardless of whatever it is you want to paint. This will prove very useful if you need to create new colors not included in your paint set. Since you’re just starting out, purchase a color wheel to learn how to mix your paints.
Step 3: Get started!
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to bring your acrylic painting ideas to life! Start out by adjusting the consistency of your paint by using a small amount of water on your brush and add more as needed. If you don’t know what to paint, start with easy subject matters such as flowers, trees, still life paintings, or go abstract and let your creative juices flow!
Keep practicing until you get a feel for the medium. After all, the best way to improve in painting is by painting. You’ll be experimenting with different acrylic painting techniques before you know it. Remember to enjoy the process while you’re at it!