Acrylic paint is a highly flexible medium. Unlike watercolor, you can build up thick layers of paint, but unlike oil paint, it dries relatively quickly. It’s a popular choice of paint for many artists, as it’s easy to work with, doesn’t smell like oils, and produces fabulous results. If you are considering trying acrylic painting, here are a few things you need to know.
You don’t need much to get started with acrylic painting. A good range of art and craft supplies can be picked up relatively cheaply from local art stores or online retailers. The following items will get you started.
- Paints – there are many different brands of paint. The most well-known include Windsor & Newton, Golden, and Daler Rowney. There are different types and quality of paint. Student quality paint is cheaper and thinner, but for beginners, it’s fine. Artist quality acrylic paint is thicker with a higher concentration of pigment. If you want to work with thicker paint (impasto), you will need this type of paint. Begin with a starter set and then if you enjoy using acrylics, slowly replace your individual tubes of paint with better quality paints.
- Paper, Canvas, and Boards – Because acrylic is so versatile, you can paint on many different surfaces. Paper is the cheapest, but make sure you buy paper that’s suitable for acrylics. It needs to be primed, acid-free, and heavy-duty. Around 300gms is fine. Ready-made canvases are a nice surface to paint on. These can be bought from all good art supplies stores. Again, look for pre-primed canvases to make life easier.
- Brushes – To begin with, you won’t need too many A flat half-inch brush and a round nylon brush will do just fine. Some starter kits come with a small set of artist brushes included.
- Palette – Plastic palettes are handy, but disposable palettes are even easier to use, as you can tear a used sheet off and throw it away at the end of your painting session. In time, you may wish to invest in a stay-wet palette to ensure your paint stays workable for longer.
- Easel – You don’t need a big studio easel, but a small table easel is quite handy. These are very cheap to buy.
Choosing a Subject
When you are an artist, the whole world is your subject matter, but it helps to narrow things down a bit. Choose something that appeals to you. Still-life is good because it means you don’t have to leave the house. The landscape is another popular subject. Experiment with different subjects until you find one you enjoy painting.
Learning Different Techniques
There are many different acrylic painting techniques, from impasto to wet-on-wet. Unlike oils, you are not limited by technical considerations, so your painting won’t fall apart if you paint thick on thin, and if you mess it up, you can paint over the ruined section. Look on YouTube for painting tutorials and read some books. There is no right and wrong, but the more you seek out useful resources, the more you will grow as an artist.
Have fun with acrylics – they are a great medium to work with!