home - acrylics
Acrylics are one of the newer painting mediums, being introduced to artists as 'recently' as the 1950s.
But you're not here for a history lesson! You want to learn how to paint with the stuff.
Acrylics are, in my opinion, the best paint medium for learning the fundamentals of making great-looking artwork... fundamentals that stay the same irrespective of what drawing or painting medium you use.
Because they're water-based, cleaning up after yourself is easier than it is with oils. They're also odourless so you can paint in any room of house that happens to be free. Usually the kitchen or dining room table!
These seem like small points but when you're starting out, you want to make everything as easy as possible so that you actually get your paints out and practice.
As for watercolours, yes they're quick to set up and easy to clean too. But painting with watercolour is notoriously difficult because you can't easily rectify mistakes.
Acrylic paints, unlike watercolours, are opaque and that means you can paint light colours over darks ones. That makes them really forgiving.
And unlike oils they dry fast. That means you can finish paintings and practice studies much more quickly, which again, helps to speed up your learning curve.
The quick drying does have it's disadvantages but that's something you can address through the simple use of gel retarders.
There's a recurring message you'll notice on this website...
Whether you want to learn how to paint with acrylics, or with oils, or pastels... and whether it's landscapes, portraits or wild animals that inspire you, there are few key fundamental principles that underpin every great piece of art.
They're all to do with observation.
Anyone can master these fundamentals, regardless of age or a so called lack of 'natural' ability.
You can learn them through acrylic paint (and as I mentioned earlier, I think acrylics are the best paint medium for newcomers) but I highly recommend you start first with pencils and paper.
Because you can practice quickly, conveniently and without the added complexity of colour.
One of the most important fundamentals you need to get to grips with is tonal contrast. If you haven't grabbed a copy of our free acrylics ebook yet, do that today and follow the pencil drawing exercise in there. Do it before you squeeze another drop of acrylic paint on your stay wet palette!
Want to learn how to paint any subject matter well with acrylics, as quickly as possible?
Practice small isolated studies instead of large, full paintings. At least at first.
Obviously full paintings are your ultimate aim but you have to deconstruct any skill if you want to master it quickly.
That means getting comfortable with brush strokes, colour mixing, strength of paint, blending techniques and so on.
And the best way to practice these is when the pressure is off through short studies.
For example, instead of painting one full acrylic landscape that takes you hours, divide your canvas into 6 or 8 boxes and paint a landscape element in each - a sky, a tree, a body of water, a rock face, some foreground grasses.
You could fill 2, 3 or even 4 canvases (up to 32 studies!) in the same time it takes you to paint one full landscape. And because there's no fear of messing it up, you'll be more relaxed, more creative and more confident - so you'll improve more quickly.
Here are some articles, videos and guides to help you get started (and beyond) with acrylic painting.
You'll find some specific examples of the isolated studies I mentioned above, plus tips for choosing and using acrylic paints, brushes and surfaces.
Remember though, taken in isolation you'll get limited value from any instructional video or article. They have to part of a bigger improvement picture. So please do explore the observation and practice articles.
Acrylic paints - A guide to the different acrylic paints plus Bob's recommendation for a starter set of colours...
Acrylic paint brushes - A guide to the different brush types available and Bob's recommendation for a starter set of brushes...
Painting and palette knives - What's the difference between painting and palette knives and do you need them?...
Acrylic paint mediums and additives - Quick overview of gel retarder and other mediums and how they will make your acrylic painting life easier...
Acrylic painting surfaces - A guide to what you can paint on with acrylic paint (almost anything!)...
Acrylic palettes - How to make your own inexpensive stay wet palette...
How to paint grass in acrylics - Tutorial for various ways of adding foreground grasses to your landscapes...
Acrylic painting tips from visitors to the site - Short acrylic painting tips from visitors to the site...