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Learn to Paint with Acrylic Paints

Updated on January 15, 2015

Painting is Rewarding

Learn how to paint
Learn how to paint

How to Paint with Acrylic Paints

How to paint with acrylic paints offers challenges similar to other paint mediums. Trying new things in life including painting helps make life interesting and rewarding. When I suggest to friends that they try painting, they often say,"I could never paint as I cannot draw a straight line" However, if you don't try something you will never know how good or how bad you are. Acrylic paints are a fun and inexpensive medium to begin your art experience. You can purchase an inexpensive set and dig right in. Who knows you may even turn out a masterpiece. Acrylics clean up well, and dealing with a water based paint means no odor or toxicity.

Materials You Will Need

You will need some basics to start painting with acrylics.

  • A set of acrylic colors to include the basics: red, blue, yellow, white and burnt umber are fairly basic. You can add colors as you paint more. Starting with a limited palate will help teach you how to mix different hues.
  • Start with two or three different brushes: A round bristle brush, a flat edge brush and a rigger for detail. You will want to add different size brushes to your collection as you progress
  • A pad of paper palettes that you can throw out after using.
  • A small table easil
  • Two glass or plastic containers of water. Dip your brush in one and then the other. This will keep you from changing the dirty water all the time.
  • An 11 by 14 canvas or canvas board
  • Lots of paper towels
  • A spray bottle to keep the paints from drying out
  • A photo or still life to work from
  • A pencil and drawing paper
  • A jar of gesso--this whitener will cover over any mistakes you make.

Brushes and Easels

An assortment of brushes
An assortment of brushes

Properties of Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints are extremely versatile. Try these different paint surfaces along with the usual canvas for variety.

  • Glass
  • Wood
  • Fabric
  • Some metals and plastic

Acrylics dry very fast, so you keep your spray bottle handy to give an occasional spritz.

Since Acrylic is a water-based paint, you can use it like watercolors, and make transparent washes. As youadd more water to the paints the more transparent the paint will become. There are many mediums available to use with acrylics to create different surfaces and textures, retard the dryness, and create a gloss or mat finish. Keep experimenting with mediums and colors while you learn how to paint with acrylics.

Have Fun Painting

Try your skill
Try your skill | Source

Care of Acrylic Paints

With a few simple rules you can reuse the acrylic paints on your palate soft and flexible. While you are painting you can spray with water to keep the paints from hardening. When finished for the day give the paints a final spray and cover with a wet paper towel. Another way of preserving the paints is to put the palate in the fridge overnight. Make sure the paints are well covered.

Put the caps securely on the tubes to keep the paint fresh each day of painting.

Odds and Ends

There is an acrylic paint on the market called "interactive". This paint dries as quickly as other acrylic paint but does not form a skin, and can be revived with water.

Since acrylic dries so fast it often does not blend as well as oil paints.

Practice mixing colors and see how many you can come up with just using red, blue, yellow, white and burnt umber.

Though sometimes drawing is not as fun as painting---a good painting needs a good drawing.

If you are copying a photo, look for the dark areas on the photo and add them on the canvas or board before you begin the rest of the painting. You will establish good contrast in your painting.

Always clean your brushes when changing to a new color to avoid mudiness.

Try painting upside down--the picture not you.

Experiment with colors and shapes. If you don't like what you have done just brush over with gesso. I do this a lot.

Practice with different brushes to create different effects.

And if you are so inspired how to paint with acrylic paints take a class or go online for different tutorials.


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    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      rajan jolly: How nice to see you this morning. Thanks so much for compliment...and votes and sharing. I have painted with acrylics for years and now starting on mixable oil paints..I guess that will deserve a hub.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Carol, this a very useful introductory lesson in Acrylic painting which those interested will surely benefit from.

      Voted up and useful. Sharing on G+1.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      thanks so much for the visit. Always appreciated. I am going to try oils again...Water mixable ones. Will see how I like it. Thanks for kind words.

    • Ninasvoice profile image


      9 years ago from England

      Acrylics are def the best. They are all i use now, i use them as watercolours too. I think they are the most versatile of paints. I stopped using oils because i ended up with a mess or smudging the painting with being impatient at the amount of time it takes them to dry. Lovely hub voted up :-)

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      Helena: Thanks for stopping by and your nice comments. I need to get my paints out again..busy writing.

      Old Cashmere: Thanks so much for lovely appreciated. And voting up.

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for compiling a great hub to get started with acrylics. I'm always keeping my eyes open for new methods for my art. Voted up, interesting, useful, and awesome :)

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      9 years ago from Indiana

      Great information! I paint with acrylics and oils but find I like acrylics better because oil takes SO LONG to dry. You are so right with not knowing if you are good at something until you try it. I think people should be brave with painting and art! Not everyone will like it all, but someone out there will see it as a masterpiece.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Thanks for the tips on acrylic painting. I've been trying to teach this to myself for some time, painting landscapes on old door panels.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Acrylic painting is fun, and enjoyable for people of all ages. I have done acrylic paintings on canvas, wood, and even on a glass bottle I decorated into a vase. I like your artwork and welcome to Hubpages!

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      Anginwu: Thanks for stopping by and the lovely complement.

    • anglnwu profile image


      9 years ago

      I used to love to paint but time with all its crazy schedules can take the joy away. Love your painting--they're beautiful .

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      9 years ago

      You make it seem so easy. Love the advice and the photos included. I imagine this would be a very rewarding and enriching experience.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      RobieBenve: Thanks so much for dropping in and your lovely comments.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Carol, great encouraging hub for someone that is considering to give acrylics a try. Voted up and useful. :)


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