In my life I’ve pursued numerous creative avenues. There was that time that I did cake decorating, a short stint sewing baby products, and even working as a muralist for awhile. One thing that never changes though is that I always come back to paint. Some people make a big deal out of painting. They look at the process or the supplies and let it overwhelm them.
Here’s the thing – you can paint. Anyone can paint and the best thing about paint is that you get to decide if it’s what you want or not. However to help you paint, today I’m going to go over the basics of how to paint with acrylics.
I like using acrylic paints. Oil paint is amazing and gives great texture but I need something that is going to be simple to clean up. Acrylic paint cleans up with soap and water and if you spill a drop on your tile floor or desk, usually you can scrape it off if it dries before you see it. I need easy. Mama don’t have time for oil paints.
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So How Do You Paint with Acrylic Paints?
The first step when painting with acrylic paints is to decide the surface that you want to paint.
The great news about acrylic is that it bonds with a lot of surfaces. I paint on three main surfaces – scrap wood, canvases or wood panel canvases.
The main thing when painting with acrylics is that you want to avoid shiny surfaces. Acrylic will peel off of shiny or slick surfaces.
If you are just starting out with learning how to paint with acrylics, don’t spend a ton of money on a professional level canvas. Either grab a scrap of wood and play around or buy the cheaper beginner level canvas until you feel like you are ready to move up.
Next, decide on what acrylic paint you want to use for your project.
There’s different levels and kinds of acrylic paints, so what acrylic paint is right for you? Start simple. I recommend starting with craft paint. Why? Because it’s affordable and there’s a wide selection of colors.
Part of learning how to paint is the process of how to mix the colors that you want for your painting but if you start out with craft paint, you can use the color you know you want straight from the tube and then as you get braver, start mixing it with other colors to get the look that you want.
Tip: You’ll need a pallet for mixing your paints. You can buy plastic pallets but I like using small white plates. Corelle plates work really well because when you’re done you can wash them off and they won’t stain. But if you forget to wash it, pour some water onto the plate and let it set for a while and then you can peel the paint right off.
Acrylic paints are made for layering.
This is important. You might be frustrated because the first pass of paint won’t cover the surface. Don’t be frustrated by this, use it as a reason to be even more creative. Let it dry and then layer to your heart’s delight or work with it while it’s still wet.
Once you feel more comfortable using acrylic paint and know how to mix them, then you can slowly start adding higher-level paints to your toolbox.
Higher-level acrylic paints usually have less color selection because they’re made to be mixed and will come in a variety of thickness. Some might be heavy-bodied, meaning much thicker and some will be more translucent.
If you’re still using craft paints and want a little bit more body or texture in your paint, you can add different painting mediums into the paint to build texture.
Lately, I’ve also been adding in some acrylic ink, which dilutes the paint more or can be used directly on my canvas to create a variety of looks. This is why painting is fun – because you can constantly add new tools and techniques.
Finally, what paintbrushes should you use when painting with acrylic paint?
This is when you’re going to get mad because I’m not going to answer your question. While synthetic brushes work best with acrylic paints, basically it depends on the style and type of painting that you want to create. Personally, I prefer Taklon brushes but sometimes I just want a rough natural bristle brush to get a certain look from the paint.
Plus I don’t want to spend a lot on natural bristle brushes because I tear them up and sometimes I forget to clean them. OK, I forget to clean them a lot. Once acrylic paint is dried in a paintbrush, it’s really hard if not impossible to get out.
That’s why I recommend you buy a cheap variety pack of brushes until you learn the type of brush that you prefer. To be honest, I still buy a lot of variety packs because I really like them. Then when I want to spend a little bit more, I’ve started slowly buying better quality brushes that fit my style and preference.
Tip: After cleaning brushes, lay them horizontal to dry or with the bristles pointed up in the air. Do not store them with the bristles pointed down, especially if they are still wet from being washed.
You have your acrylic painting supplies, now what?
If you’ve never painted before or aren’t sure where to start once you’ve gathered your acrylic paint and brushes, I use a very simple style that anyone can do. Check out the tutorials below for help:
- Simple Paintings Anyone Can Make – Perfect for adults and group gatherings
- Helping Your Child Paint Their Favorite Storybook Character – Good for kids
The Next Steps…
The most important thing when it comes to painting with acrylics is being willing to learn and experiment. The first time you paint you’re most likely not going to paint something that’s worthy of hanging in a world-famous museum. It takes time and occasional failures.
Want to shop some of these products I’ve mentioned? Here’s a list with a few different options:
I love Amazon and how easy it is to shop but don’t forget to shop sales at your local craft stores and always use a coupon! Also if you want to use canvas, most craft stores have huge sales on them about every 6 weeks. Michaels often does a buy 1 – get 2 free sale where I stock up. For wood canvases, I prefer the ones at Hobby Lobby and grab those when they are on 40% off.
If you want to see what I’m painting, follow me on Instagram – @ClumsyCrafter.