Acrylic paints are fantastic to use thanks to their fast-drying and versatile nature combined with wide colour range and user friendliness. You can use acrylics straight from their tubes or thin them with water and use in a similar fashion to water colours, depending on the effect you want to achieve.
These paints are ideal if you’re a beginner or if you simply want to explore a new medium for your art. You can create different styles, mix and blend the paints, and have some fun with what you achieve. Once dry, these paints are waterproof, they can be used on a range of oil-free surfaces and they’re durable – which are just some of the reasons they’re a popular paint choice. You do need to be aware how quickly the paints dry so you can manage the painting experience, but once you know how to work with acrylics you’re bound to enjoy their range, versatility and potential to create powerful artwork.
Don’t squeeze too hard
Acrylics dry in rapid time so take care not to squeeze too much out of the tube at one time, unless you’re working on a big painting and don’t intend to pause for a significant amount of time! Instead, squeeze small amounts of each colour onto the palette and top-up as you go. And make sure you place the lids back securely on the paints after each use too.
Spray as you go
It’s a good idea to invest in an atomiser bottle and to spray a fine mist of water over the paints on your palette at regular intervals to help keep them fresh. If you need your paints to last a long time on you palette, you can buy Stay Wet palettes which are designed to retain moisture and prevent your paints from drying out for several days and longer.
Choose your paint brush
There are several types of acrylic brushes to choose between, each offering a unique style and use. The ones you need will depend on your art project, but here’s a quick overview of the main types.
- Flat brush – for bold strokes and washes mainly
- Round tip brush – for outlining and sketching, detailed work, and thin to thick techniques
- Pointed tip brush – for fine lines and details
- Fan brush – for smoothing and blending techniques
- Angular flat brush – for curved strokes
- Filbert brush – for blending, and softening edges
Water your brush
When you’re working in acrylics, have a cup of water next to you for keeping any brushes you’re not currently using in. Otherwise, the paint will dry and harden on the bristles, destroying your brushes. Similarly, when you’ve finished for the day, rinse the brushes well in water and be sure to remove all the paint from them before leaving them to dry.
Know your surface
There are various types of surface you can apply acrylics to, with the main one being canvas. Available in different shapes, sizes, textures and thickness, you should be able to find the right canvas for your art project. You can choose between primed and unprimed canvas, depending on the effect you want to achieve – primed canvas comes coated with a layer of primer and will take and hold the paint better whereas unprimed canvas is untreated and tends to reveal the texture through the paint. In addition, you can paint on wood, paper, metal and plastic surfaces.
The Enid Hutt Gallery sell acrylic paintings by popular artists including Fabian Perez artworks
Photo Credit: David B (CC BY-SA 2.0)