Acrylic Painting For Beginners
Acrylic Painting For Beginners - For many beginners new to painting, acrylic paints is the ideal medium to start of with. In this article we explore what is important for you to know to get started painting with acrylics.
When starting to learn to paint one of the first choices the beginner has to make is which medium to paint with. There are so many options to choose from these days. The main mediums to consider are drawing, charcoal, watercolour, acrylic, oil paints, water mixable oil paints, pastels, gauche, coloured pencils, pen and wash and many more. These are the most popular mediums to use when starting out as a beginner.
Many believe that acrylic painting for beginners is the best medium. Especially when getting started out painting.
There are many advantages to using acrylic paint to learn to paint with. We will explore both the advantages and disadvantages in this article.
Firstly thought what is acrylic paint?
About Acrylic Paint
So what is acrylic paint. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are water-soluble, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water, or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media. Acrylic paint is typically used for crafting, or in art classes in schools because it does not require any chemicals, and rinses away with just water. It also is less likely to leave a stain on clothes than oil paint.
Acrylic paint is a synthetic paint combining the properties of oil and watercolor. They were first made commercially available in the 1950's.
Acrylic paint is water based and water soluble so they can be washed up in water avoiding the necessity of toxic solvents that you might need with oil paints. However once they are dry they are resistant to water. Some brands of acrylic paint can be re-hydrated after they have dried like the Atelier Interactive range of acrylic paint.
Painting With Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint is a great paint for beginners. It is versatile and easy to use and for the most part can be thinned down with water.
This allows for a variety of painting techniques to be used such as Alla Prima painting, or painting by building up layers.
One of the advantages of acrylic paint is they can be used like watercolours. By thinning the paint down with water you can get thin transparent washes of colour in the same way a watercolour artist would do. Alternatively acrylic paint can be used like oil paint. Many brands of acrylic paint are quite thick and viscous when squeezed out of the tube and can feel like traditional oil paints.
Many artists will choose to use acrylic paints as a hybrid of both watercolour and oil paints. Starting with thin washes to establish the structure of the painting, and then moving to thicker paint as the layers build up is a common practice with acrylic painting for beginners.
At the Learn To Paint Academy we teach you to paint with acrylics in the same way we teach oil painting. The process is almost identical which allows our students to transfer between acrylic paint to oil paint with ease.
One of the big challenges many beginners have with acrylic painting is the drying time. As acrylics dry fast many beginners struggle with how to blend the paint to best effect.
Watch this video on acrylic painting for beginners and the blending techniques you can use:
About Acrylic Painting For New Painters
So is acrylic painting right for beginners?
In most cases we would say yes definitely acrylic paint is ideal for beginners when you use the right approach.
Over the years, and with the experience of teaching hundreds of students in one day workshops, and more than 30,000 students online to learn to paint, we have found that there is one approach in particular that works really well with acrylics.
That approach is known as the Moore Method of Painting which is a simple 3 step process to creating a painting.
The key to this approach is knowing when to let the acrylic paint dry and when to work into it using a wet on wet approach.
We mentioned before that one of the challenges beginners have with acrylic paints is the rapid drying time and therefore how to blend the acrylic paints. In the video above we share tips on how t make blending acrylic paints easier.
But here is one thing many acrylic painting beginners are not aware of ... when acrylic paints start to dry they go tacky. To the touch it feels like they are sticky. This is the half way point between wet and workable, and bone dry.
During this tacky phase of the drying process you do not want to continue working with acrylic paint. When acrylic paint is tacky it is not very agreeable to being worked back into with fresh paint.
So the Moore Method of Painting is designed to work with this naturally occurring drying process of acrylic paints. The way we teach is to take a break and allow the paint to dry fully before trying to work over it. This usually takes place between step 2 and 3 of the Moore Method of Painting.
A word of caution ... many beginners will be tempted to use a hair dryer to speed up this drying process so they can get back to work on their painting. This works however it will make your paints look dull and flat if the heat is too intense. It's far easier to go and have a cup of tea for half an hour and allow the paint to naturally dry.
Which Acrylic Paint To Use When You Are Starting?
Acrylic paints generally come in different qualities or grades.
Student grade paint is more affordable and often a good way to start if you are on a budget. The downside of student grade acrylic paint is that they are often lacking in pigmentation. So the amount of pigment to the amount of binder is quite low. This results in inferior quality of paint and can make the painting process more challenging. If you are on a budget then start with student quality.
As you improve your painting skills with acrylic paint though you will want to consider using artist quality or professional quality paints.
These are generally richer in pigmentation with less binder. The quality of the paint is better so it is easier to mix vibrant rich colours, often easier to apply the paint, and will look better over the long term long after you have finished the painting. If you plan on selling your paintings at some point then it is advisable to paint with an artist quality acrylic paint.
Acrylic Painting Mediums
A question we often get from beginners is what mediums should they use with acrylic paints.
Often when we walk into an art supply store we see this array of mediums and think we need them all. In truth you can start painting with acrylic just using water as the only medium.
This is how we teach beginners to paint with acrylic paints at the Learn To Paint Academy.
Just use water to thin the paint down so that it flows better when you are applying it to the canvas, and water to clean up the brushes.
In time you might want to add a retarder medium into the mix. Retarders will slow the drying time of your paint down so that you have more time to work into the colours and to blend the paint.
The other medium that many beginners have found useful is a medium to make the paint flow easier. This is useful for when blocking in colours. Sometimes acrylic paint can be a little viscous (or thick) which may make it challenging to spread evenly on the canvas. By using a little flow medium the paint will flow much easier.
Beyond these two mediums though we suggest just use water to thin the paint where appropriate.
All of the courses and painting projects we teach at the Learn To Paint Academy in acrylics just use water as the medium.
Conclusion About Acrylic Painting For Beginners
Acrylic paints are an ideal medium to learn to paint with.
The most important thing when starting out is to learn the right technique for using acrylics.
At some point in the future it is likely you will want to try your hand at oil paints or water soluble oil paints. For that reason we suggest learning to paint with acrylics using the same process you would with oils. This makes the skills transferable between the two mediums.
The Moore Method of Painting will show you this approach and help you make a great start with your acrylic painting journey.
Enjoy your painting
One of the best ways to learn how to paint with acrylics is to get the basic knowledge you need and to watch an experienced instructor demonstrating the techniques you need to learn.
Click the link above to access the Acrylic Painting Starter Bundle to learn more and to start your journey painting with acrylics