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Acrylic Painting for Beginners - Even Toddlers Can Do This Step-by-Step Tutorial

Updated on March 10, 2018

Start Right; Steps Simplified; Acrylic Painting for Beginners

Photo Credit: All Photos in this article are mine

Video Credit: Video links to my videos.

The key to awesome acrylic painting on canvas or on paper or other surfaces is acquiring the skill to mix primary colors, tint it or shade it, and achieve the approximate color of what you are copying or the image that you have in mind. I described it as if it is easy to do - no, it is not! Nonetheless, I would say that it is not so difficult too. It requires practice to achieve this. Let me inspire you by saying that I have had a two-months experience teaching kids how to paint and my youngest participant is only three years old. Yes, we can teach toddlers how to paint. They can come up with amazing output that even their own moms never thought that they could do.

Learning three basic principles and applying these, together with learning simple strokes can enable one to come up with great acrylic paintings. If you look at the painting pictures on the right, you will be doubt me if I say that you can do these in less than 30 minutes. The third picture shows my children's latest homeschooling project in arts. They gave this to me on mother's day 2017. You may click on the link to see how they did it.

Starry Night; My Kid's Output Photo Credit: Mine
Starry Night; My Kid's Output Photo Credit: Mine | Source

Paint on Stones and Sharing it

This girl paints on stones and hides them. Find out more, see her output by watching her video. It is a fun activity not only for kids but for anyone who loves to paint.

Mercy Paints on Stones

Things to Consider When Choosing Paints and Brushes

Just like a usual tip you may bump into for make-up or cosmetic products, you do not need to choose the most expensive option. Nonetheless, it should not also be the cheapest because learning will not take place.


To start with, you will be needing 5 tubes of acrylic paint: white, black, and the primary colors: red, blue, yellow.

If you check my recommendation above, the set includes 24 colors. Segregate the other colors and use it when you think you have a good skill in mixing colors using the 5 tubes I enumerated above. Why do I recommend you to do this? Painting is about shades, tints and colors. You use these to effect dimension and depth. A slight variance in shade, tint, color may create these impressions that will make your output awesome. I always point this out to my participants in my painting class by way of actual examples so they can visualize and grasp this by heart.

The viscosity of the paint is also very important. This refers to the thickness of the paint you are using. When you start working with your brush, you will get used to feel when you need to add more solvent (water or thinner) to your paint.


We're discussing here acrylic painting so I'd recommend the brushes as shown below. For kids, you may buy cheap brushes but not too cheap that the "hair" of it is disintegrating or falling off while your child is using it. Very young kids usually cannot execute fine strokes with their brushes. They can still come up with good output by maximizing the stroke that they are able to do. Also, no matter how you tell them to care for their brush, you'll find yourself frustrated when you have just bought a professional brush and they left it unwashed to the paint thickened and dried making the brush unusable anymore.

Our Latest Acrylic Painting Project

Waterfall Painting: Let's Paint Session Tutorial for Homeschoolers

Waterfalls Painting

Let's Paint Session With Homeschoolers
Let's Paint Session With Homeschoolers

Step by Step Tutorial; Sunset, Landscape Acrylic Painting

They Proudly Displayed their Output.

Let's Paint Session with Homeschoolers
Let's Paint Session with Homeschoolers

They Can Do it!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
She's 14 Photo Credit: MineHe's 4 Photo Credit: MineAges: 8, 6, 6  Photo Credit: Mine
She's 14 Photo Credit: Mine
She's 14 Photo Credit: Mine
He's 4 Photo Credit: Mine
He's 4 Photo Credit: Mine
Ages: 8, 6, 6  Photo Credit: Mine
Ages: 8, 6, 6 Photo Credit: Mine

Go Cheap but not for the Cheapest

Ohuhu 12pcs Nylon Hair Art Paint Brush Set
Ohuhu 12pcs Nylon Hair Art Paint Brush Set

It's nylon so strands are stiff and it cannot hold the paint if it is runny. Great for beginners.

Another reason why I recommend this set is it has round, flat, fan and wedge - perfect set to start with.


The Result When you Paint the Object First

Red Lips Photo Credit: Mine
Red Lips Photo Credit: Mine

Washing; Background First; Farthest Object First

These are the three things you should first know by heart.


The viscosity of the paint - not thick; stroke of your hand - not short and fine strokes, feel free to fill the surface with paint with long strokes. See the demo.

Background First

Do the background and start with the details when you are satisfied with it. When you start painting the details, remember to paint first the farthest; nearest object will be the last to paint. You'll know why if you start painting - if you paint a nearer object, it will be difficult for you to deal with the object behind it. See the picture on the right - I painted the fish first before I dealt with the background. Look closely how the paint goes beyond where it should not be. So, remember:

Farthest Object First

She is Three Years Old, One of my Youngest Participant in Let's Paint Sessions

Here, she had just finished washing and working on the background.
Here, she had just finished washing and working on the background.
Photo Credit: Mine
Photo Credit: Mine

Color Management and Strokes

As I mentioned earlier, how you mix your paint and how you move your brush will define your painting. I will be writing a more elaborate hub focused on this topic. Meanwhile, have a look at my daughter's demo on how to paint two-colored petals using a single stroke of the brush. She did this project when she was eight years old. I shared this technique to my participants and I personally know that toddlers can execute this.

See the cherry blossom painting on the right? I painted this using the same technique. We were in China during spring time and I cannot resist the inspiration I get from the magnificent cherry blossoms - there was like a sea of blossoms that flooded the entire area where we lived.

Paint Waterfalls in Few Minutes

Write Touchy Words and Give it as Gift

My Daughter's Easy but Pretty Acrylic Painting Tutorial: One Stroke Technique

Poster Color Paintings

You may opt for Poster Color,

It is a good alternative.

I Used Poster Color Here; Check When I Painted it

Painted on June 9, 2000 Photo Credit: Mine
Painted on June 9, 2000 Photo Credit: Mine
Painted on October 26, 2001 Photo Credit: Mine
Painted on October 26, 2001 Photo Credit: Mine

This is the Brand I Used

Sakura Poster Color Set Pw12 Kurepasu 30ml 12 Color Set〔japan Import〕
Sakura Poster Color Set Pw12 Kurepasu 30ml 12 Color Set〔japan Import〕

Not expensive but you will get a good output. For starters, it is a good option.

Get this set and start uncovering the artistic side of you.


Poster Color or Acrylic

Personally, I prefer acrylic over poster color. There is a slight difference in price - poster color is usually more expensive than acrylic. Of course, price depends on the brand that you are using. I like the finish result of acrylic and how a layer of newly applied paint covers the layer earlier applied. For poster colors, you the inner layer is sometimes visible specially if the top layer is a light color. You need to apply a thicker layer in order to cover it completely - that means, more paint and more time for it.

Moms Also Joined my Painting Classes

It's her very First Painting Photo Credit: Mine
It's her very First Painting Photo Credit: Mine

It is Never Late to Start Painting

Most of the samples I put here are mine and kids' output. This is because I had been teaching kids how to paint. To boost your spirit, I want to mention that during my painting lesson classes, some parents joined their kids. You can see the twinkling of their eyes when they finished their painting.

See the picture on the right - "This is my very first painting; I have never painted all my life!" She exclaimed.

It is never too late to start discovering your talent.

I Love Arts

Check my other hubs on Arts

Thank you for reading, let me know your thoughts

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    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 

      16 months ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm very inhibited about painting mostly because I'm not very good at it. You're article makes it seem possible. Thanks for writing it!


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