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Guide to Acrylic Painting

A Beginner's Guide to Acrylic Painting

Try this intricate technique that's perfect for budding artists

Gather your painting essentials and try this fine-art medium that's relatively inexpensive, water-soluble and versatile. With a little practice you can master decorative strokes that will take your painting to new heights. Read on for a basic breakdown of the kit you'll need and a few techniques that will help you along your artistic journey.

Brush selection

The brush that you choose to work with is crucial to the way your masterpiece will look. Of course it makes sense to use big brushes for bigger areas, and small ones for detailed areas. Stiff-bristled brushes are great for thick acrylic paint, and soft varieties for watercolour effects. Finally, look for brushes where the hairs are firm and quickly spring back up when you bend them.


Quality over quantity

When it comes to selecting your paint, it's better to spend a little bit more on good-quality products. Aim for artist- rather than student-quality. Artist-quality paints have better coverage while others contain more filler and less pigment, so the results will be less satisfactory. Aim for artist- rather than student-quality. Artist-quality paints have better coverage while others contain more filler and less pigment, so the results will be less satisfactory.


Complete your tool stash

A suitable canvas will ensure your project has a professional finish. If you’re buying a pre-made canvas or board, check that it has been primed with something suitable for acrylics. The next tool is easily accessible: water! Get two big jugs of water, one to rinse your brushes when switching between colours and the other to dilute paint and dampen brushes when needed. Finally, ensure that you have paper towels to hand to dab brushes after rinsing and to help correct mistakes.


Avoid mishaps

While slow and steady wins the race, it's best not to work at a snail's pace when you've got acrylic paint on your palette as it will dry out fairly quickly. To avoid any challenges try to paint the largest shapes of your composition first and work quickly for as long as possible before moving on to the intricate details. Ensure that you have a plant mister on hand to spray the colours on your palette to keep them from drying out.


Master the basics

When applying paint to paper, it's best to know a few techniques beforehand. If you need a solid colour, try dry brushing. This is when paint is applied to a surface using a dry brush and undiluted paint. For a translucent effect, dilute your paint with water – you'll be able to make a variety of textures this way. To create an illusion of grain and texture, use the end of your brush bristles to dot on small spots of colour. If you love landscape pieces, it's best to try a splatter effect using a fairly wet brush and flicking paint onto your work surface.

Guide to Acrylic Painting