5 Helpful Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

Acrylic is great for beginners for a lot of things. It’s cheap, water-soluble, and dries quickly, which makes it easier to handle than oil paints. These qualities also make it the most forgiving medium compared to others.

Here are five crucial tips for anyone looking to get into acrylic painting:

1. Don’t worry too much about the brushes.
When it comes to this medium, there’s no need to go overboard on expensive brushes. You can simply start with cheap brushes you can get anywhere and work your way towards a collection of them that you’re comfortable using.
This is because the drawback is with the paints themselves. Student-grade is fine to start with if you’re on a budget, but if you want a higher pigment level, artist-grade paints are the way to go.

2. Create families of colors.
You need to be precise when mixing paints to get the exact hue that you want, so having a good knowledge of the color wheel is a must for any beginning painter.

Different amounts of the primary colors mixed together gives different secondary colors and browns. For instance, red and yellow results in different hues of orange, and by adding a small amount of green in the mix, you get a wide range of brown and burnt umbers.

3. Paint in blocks of color.
One quality that makes acrylic painting forgiving for beginning painters also makes it a challenge to work with – and this said quality is its fast drying time.

You’ll have to work fast to get any textures or fix any mistakes that you’ve made on the canvas before the acrylic dries on the canvas. However, you can make painting much easier by starting with the largest blocks of color first before working towards the finer details.

4. Bring a water mister for outdoor painting.
Acrylics can dry out a little too quickly, so if you plan on painting using this medium outdoors, be sure to bring a lot a water mister and give your layers a light spray to keep slow down their drying time a little bit.
However, be careful when using water, as too much will make the paints too runny and feel more like watercolor instead. Paint under a shaded area as much as possible.

5. Always prime with gesso!
Whether you’re starting out your paintings on canvas or hardwood boards, what’s important is that you prime them before proceeding with your underpainting.

Acrylics are primed with acrylic gesso (not to be confused with traditional gesso), a type of white paint containing latex that provides a smoother, surface that’s resistant to leaching, which lets you push the paint around better.

(Disclaimer: this list is compiled in no particular order.)