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Acrylic Painting for Beginners

Shrinivas Kanade
Acrylic paint is very popular with artists. If you have just started painting, then you need a few guidelines on how to use these paints.
Since its introduction, acrylic paints have become very popular amongst many artists. In these paints, one finds pigments suspended inside the polymer acrylic blend. The beauty of acrylic paint is that unlike oil colors, they dry fast which helps in using many layers to create the painting in a short time, and it also facilitates easy transportation.
While using acrylic colors, one does not have to wait too long between the two color layers. You can easily layer an impasto having rich texture and leave brush or pallet knife marks on it to achieve the desired effect; or a wash by mixing these paints with water to create a transparent effect which generally seen in watercolor paintings.
Acrylic paint can be used with different mediums such as wood, metal, canvas, glass, etc.

Tips For Beginners

Following are a few tips which will help you making the effective use of your paints:

  • Care must be taken to squeeze as little of the acrylic paints from the tubes as possible. This saves the paint from drying up on the pallet and its wastage.
  • Keep a glass of water or spray handy to moisten the paint as and when required.
  • When you are not using the brush, save it by dipping it in the water and getting rid of the paint.
  • Acrylic paints as they dry fast allows an artist to use whatever color he wants to, which is not the case with oil paints that expects him or her to strictly adhere to the order of colors.
  • If you are a person who likes to take time between brush strokes then it may help to plan your painting in advance. This will greatly help in avoiding the wastage of paint.
  • Using a damp canvas or the paper to paint on may also helps while using acrylic colors. It will allow you a little bit more time in the execution of your ideas and color scheme, by slowing the drying process of the already applied layer.
  • Sometimes, the brush strokes of this paint leaves hard edges on the surface and it pays to dip the brush in water and touch them in order to smoothen them up.
  • Never add any type of solvents to the paint.
  • Do not forget to clean the caps of the color tubes and putting them on tightly. If the paint dries up and forms a hard layer inside the neck of the tube, the task of squeezing it out of the tube becomes difficult.
  • In the initial phase of learning to handle acrylic colors, buying student grade paints will help to economize. They are of good quality and are as good as the costly kind.
  • Mixing them all can be achieved using a pallet. The other way of doing it is to apply a layer of paint and then lay the color(s) you want to go with it on the top. However, the effect achieved with the top painting is not that effective.
  • Select the pallet to mix the color carefully, if it is of porous material, then the paints will dry up fast.
It is important for any artist who is shifting his base from some other medium to acrylic, to remember that these paints offer the combined advantages of oil and water. 'Practice makes a man perfect', is a saying that everyone is familiar with.
The best tip is to know when to use them as water colors and oil paints. It is a sense that can only be acquired with practice while experimenting with different painting techniques. For beginners, it may take some time to start using these paints to their fullest strength.
Have patience! One can master a new medium by covering its finer points step by step. This can be an opportunity which allows them to try out those ideas which they cannot hope to achieve using oil paints or water colors.
One can exploit the nature of acrylic colors to create transparent effect by laying number of thin washes on the canvas or the board. Once a layer dries up, it becomes resistant to water and cannot be tampered with. This means the artist cannot modify the color.
On the other hand, he can correct the mistake, if any, by applying a new layer using the color or the desired shade. One can add water to acrylic paints to apply washes, however, it is important to remember that it diminishes the effect of these paints to a certain degree. This problem can be overcome by adding acrylic medium to the paints to make it thin.
Use of thick layers of paints in the artwork gives it different dimensions. The care must be taken to blend the acrylic colors properly while doing so. Blending takes time and it is not a commodity that the artist can waste as these paints dry fast.
Working in patches and covering small areas of the canvas or the board with the colors to blend is the technique to use. Use the damp brush to take out the hard edges of the strokes and move the brush sideways, up, and down where the patches meet.
As solvents such as turpentine are not used during acrylic painting, it becomes a pleasant activity as the budding painter does not have to cope with its fumes and smell. The versatility that these paints offer to the painter can be exploited by implementing challenging ideas for beginners on different materials.