Acrylic Painting Tips – 10 Best Tips for Beginners

It doesn't matter what profession or hobby you choose, the knowledge of some cunning tips and tricks makes your life so much easier. And painting is not an exception, so let's dive deep into Acrylic Painting Tips!

Tip #1: Mixing paints.

Mixing paint is a precise process. It's very important to know some basic color theory and color wheel here as you'll be mixing very specific colors as you work. Red and yellow can be combined to make a variety of oranges. Red and blue will mix into all shades of purple, Yellow and blue turn into green.

Acrylic Painting TipsWhen you are mixing dark and light paint together, Always start with lighter color and gradually add dark into it. Never do the opposite, because it takes a little of dark color to change light one, but it takes considerably more of light color to change a dark one.

Using a palette knife, or even plastic knife is ideal for acrylic paint mixing.

Tip #2: Paint Misting. Keep your paint wet and workable.

You can keep the paint moist and workable with a regular plant mister!!!

Since acrylic dries so quickly, sometimes too quickly, it is important to have some kind of mister on hand. Spray the colors on your palette and keep them from drying out as you work. You can buy gardening misters at hardware or gardening stores, I personally bought mine in Dollar Store. You can also spray water directly onto your canvas or paper to keep the paint workable and for different painting effects, such as drips and smears. Depending on the surface you're painting on, you can water your acrylics down enough to almost resemble watercolor.

To prevent fast drying of your paint you can also use special acrylic medium - Retarding Medium slows down the drying time of paint.

Tip #3: Gesso. 

Acrylic Painting TipsEven though acrylics will adhere to an unprimed support,  the colors will be dull and the texture of canvas will be noticeable. That is why usage of primer could be a very good idea. Gesso is a white paint mixture used as a ground or primer for acrylic painting and oils. It provides a smoother and more resistant surface for the paint to pushed around on. Acrylic gesso is a little different from traditional gesso as it contains latex. You can buy pre-stretched ready-primed canvases in a variety of shapes and sizes. So give gesso a try!

You can also use gesso to create texture under the paint you're going to apply.

Tip #4: Increasing the color opacity.

Acrylic Painting TipsSome pigments, such as Quinacridone, Phthalo, or Hansa, are naturally more translucent than others. Unlike professional paints, student grade paints also tend to be more transparent because they have a larger binder to pigment ratio. There are several things you can do about it to make a color more opaque:
1. you can add a tiny bit of titanium white to the color,
2. add a tiny bit of white gesso., which is even better.
This will lighten (tint) the color a little bit but will give you the opacity you're after. You can also completely paint over the underlying color with gesso or a medium gray before applying the next color.

Tip #5: Paintbrushes.

Brushes made from synthetic materials work the best for acrylic paint. Using natural brushes is not the best idea because acrylic paint can be hard on natural fibers. It can dry them out and cause them to become brittle and degrade over time. Synthetic brushes made of nylon or polyester filament are available in a huge variety, and they are just as good as ones made from natural fiber. Synthetics hold the paint well, but also are easy to clean. In addition, synthetic brushes are less expensive than comparable natural fiber brushes. Never ever use oil brushes and watercolor brushes for acrylics.

It's good to have a variety of brushes, you'll soon learn which you're more comfortable with, click here to read the paintbrush guide.


Tip #6: Keep your paintbrush wet while painting.

Acrylic Painting TipsIt is important to keep your brush in the water during the whole process of painting so that the paint doesn't dry on the brush and don't glue bristles together. It's a good idea to have 2 cups or containers of water: one with a shallow layer of water to keep the brushes wet without soaking the handles in water (which will cause the lacquer to peel off) and another to clean the brushes between different colors.

Always clean your brushes with soap and water when you are done painting, rinse and dry them well. Store your paintbrushes lying down or standing up on end with the bristles in the air (never leave them sitting head down).


Tip #7: Acrylics can be used like both watercolor paint and oil paint.

Acrylic paint is extremely versatile! There is also a variety of Acrylic Mediums available that can extend its versatility even more: create relief stroke, texture, making the paint thicker, thinner, glossy, matte, textured, slow-drying and more. You can thin acrylic paint with water or a glazing medium to be used like watercolor for transparent effects such as washes and glazes. Or it can be used thickly, alone or with a gel medium, for impasto effects similar to oil paint.

Acrylic Painting TipsTip #8: Acrylic paint generally dries darker.

Your paint will dry slightly darker than it looks on your palette. Particularly with student grade paints, which have a higher ratio of binder to pigment, the colors tend to dry darker. Keep this in mind when mixing colors, and try to mix colors a shade or two lighter than you want for the final outcome. When this does occur, you may find yourself applying several successively lighter layers of paint to achieve the desired lightness. This layering often enhances the painting, adding complexity and richness to the color. This change doesn't usually happen with artist grade paints.

Acrylic Painting TipsTip #9: Painting in layers.

Acrylic paint is great for painting in layers. Acrylic dries quickly into an insoluble, water-resistant flexible paint film, which means you can paint layers of paint on top of previous layers without fear of lifting the color beneath.  This makes acrylic paint perfect for a variety of painting techniques such as glazing, dry brush, and scumbling.

Tip #10: Use with mixed media and collage.

Acrylic is ideal for any kind of mixed media art project or collage.

The paint and the mediums act as adhesives, and most of the acrylic mediums dry clear.

You can also use dried acrylic paint as a surface for drawing on with graphite, oil pastel, oil sticks, and more.

Best of luck along your art journey!

Now, don't forget to use this acrylic painting tips in your painting practice! And don't worry about making mistakes, this is the only way to improve yourself. Leave a comment if you have any questions about this article and share your own tips and tricks in painting, I'd love to read about it! 🙂




2 thoughts on “Acrylic Painting Tips – 10 Best Tips for Beginners

  1. Darren says:

    I’ve painted quite a lot with watercolour, but not much with acrylics. Is it an easier or harder medium than watercolour?

    I really like the idea of the misting and keeping the paint wet so you can work with it. That’s a great idea. Some really good acrylic painting tips here. I’ll have to try my hand at it some more.

    • admin says:

      Hi, Darren!
      I’m glad you liked these little tips, I personally use them all the time and find them very useful!
      As for your question, watercolors and acrylics are just really different, so I think it all depends on personal preference, and what medium you are actually used to work with. I find working with watercolor harder for me, I’m also a texture fan, so I prefer to work with thick paint and layering. If you are used to working with watercolor, it’s probably going to be a little harder to work with acrylics at the beginning, because unlike watercolors, they water-resistant when dry.

      Right now I’m working on new post about acrylic painting techniques, so you might want to check it out whenever you decide to experiment with acrylics :))


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