Unlock Your Creativity

Welcome to our collection of art and design tips, resources, and articles! Whether you're a professional artist or just starting out in the world of design, we've got something for everyone. Our library is packed with helpful advice on everything from creating beautiful illustrations to choosing the right colors for your project. We also have plenty of inspiring articles to get your creative juices flowing. No matter what type of project you’re working on, this is the perfect place to find all the information and inspiration you need.

How Do I Start Acrylic Painting: Essential Tips & Techniques

Ever wondered how to dive into the colorful world of acrylic painting? Curious about unleashing your creativity on canvas but not sure where to begin with the painting process, brush strokes, and acrylic painting technique? Let’s unravel the mysteries together. Starting acrylic painting can be as easy as picking up a brush and letting your imagination run wild. No need for fancy tools or prior experience – just a splash of paint and a blank canvas are all you need to get started in the painting process. Join me in exploring the vibrant realm of acrylics, where every stroke tells a story and every color choice is an adventure waiting to happen.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Understanding Acrylic Paints and Their Types

Water-Based and Quick-Drying

Acrylic paint is a type of paint that dries quickly and is water-based. This means you can easily clean your brushes with water when using acrylic paints. The quick-drying nature of acrylics allows you to work faster as they do not have to wait long periods for the paint to dry before adding more layers or details.


  • Dries quickly, allowing for faster work completion.
  • Easy cleanup with just water, making it convenient for artists.


  • Quick drying time may require artists to work swiftly.

Different Types of Acrylic Paints

There are various types of acrylic paints available in the market, each serving different purposes. Heavy body acrylic paints have a thick consistency ideal for creating textures and impasto techniques. On the other hand, fluid acrylics have a thinner consistency suitable for pouring techniques and detailed work. Craft acrylics are budget-friendly options often used for crafts and decorative painting projects.

Heavy Body Acrylics

  • Ideal for creating texture on canvas.
  • Great choice for impasto techniques.

Fluid Acrylics

  • Thin consistency perfect for pouring techniques.
  • Suitable for intricate details in paintings.

Craft Acrylics

  • Budget-friendly option often used in craft projects.
  • Popular choice among beginners due to affordability.

Versatile Surfaces

One of the advantages of working with acrylic paints is their versatility. Artists can use acrylic paints on various surfaces such as canvas, paper, wood, fabric, metal, and even glass! This flexibility allows artists to explore different mediums without limitations.

Get notified when we post new content!

Key Information

  • Can be used on multiple surfaces like canvas, paper, wood, fabric.

Essential Supplies for Starting Acrylic Painting

Acrylic Paints and Brushes

Acrylic paints are vibrant, easy to use, and quick-drying. They come in various colors at any art store. Brushes play a crucial role; ensure you have a variety of sizes for different painting techniques.

Acrylic paints can be mixed with water to achieve different consistencies. When starting, opt for primary colors like red, blue, yellow, black, and white. These can be used to create a wide range of hues.

Additional Supplies

Apart from acrylic paints and brushes

  • Palette knives help mix paints on the palette.
  • A palette is essential for mixing colors.
  • Canvas or painting surface is where your masterpiece will come alive.
  • Water containers are needed for cleaning brushes between color changes.

Remember these additional items

  • A rag or paper towels keep your workspace neat by wiping excess paint off brushes.
  • Utilize a spray bottle to mist the palette when working to prevent the acrylic paint from drying too quickly.

Setting Up Your Painting Space Comfortably

Well-Lit Area

Find a spot with lots of natural light for your painting sessions. Good lighting is crucial for accurate color mixing and seeing details clearly on your canvas. If natural light is limited, consider using daylight-simulating bulbs to ensure proper illumination.

Adequate ventilation in your space is essential when working with acrylic paints. Proper airflow helps reduce exposure to fumes and ensures a healthier environment for your painting sessions. Open windows or use fans to keep the air circulating while you create your masterpiece.

Organized Supplies

Keep all your painting supplies neatly arranged and within reach during your painting session. This will save you time searching for items and allow you to focus more on creating art rather than hunting down materials. Consider using storage containers, shelves, drawers, or a rolling cart to keep everything organized based on personal preference.


Get notified when we post new content!

  • Easy access to supplies.
  • Saves time during painting sessions.
  • Reduces distractions while working.


  • Clutter can lead to disorganization.

Remember, the key is creating a comfortable and efficient setup that allows you to fully enjoy the process of painting without any unnecessary interruptions or frustrations.

Preparing Your Painting Surface with Primer or Gesso

Applying Primer or Gesso

Primer or gesso is like a base layer for your painting. It helps the paint stick better and gives you a smooth surface to work on. To apply primer, you can use either a brush or a roller. Make sure to cover the entire surface evenly.

Priming your canvas before starting an acrylic painting ensures that the colors stay vibrant and do not get absorbed by the canvas. The primer acts as a barrier between the paint and the canvas, allowing you more control over your artwork.

Benefits of Priming

  • Enhanced Adhesion: Primer helps the wet paint adhere better to your surface.
  • Prevents Soaking: By priming, you prevent your paint from getting soaked into the canvas, ensuring brighter colors.

When applying primer or gesso, think of it as laying down a foundation for your artwork. Just like how builders lay down strong foundations before constructing buildings, artists prime their surfaces before creating masterpieces.

Selecting Brushes and Mixing Palettes for Acrylics

Brush Shapes

When starting acrylic painting, it’s crucial to choose the right brushes. Different brush shapes serve different purposes in painting. For acrylics, synthetic brushes are a popular choice due to their durability and paint-holding capacity.

It’s essential to have a variety of brush shapes for acrylic painting. Flat brushes work well for covering large areas, while round brushes are great for details and outlines. Angular brushes help with precise strokes and filling corners easily.

One great resource for figuring out what brushes you will need to get started with acrylic painting is Chuck Black’s video “10 Best Brushes for Painting for Acrylics and Oils“.

Palette Options

A mixing palette is an indispensable tool when working with acrylic paints. Consider using a palette with separate wells or compartments to keep your colors organized and prevent them from blending unintentionally. This ensures that you can mix your colors accurately without creating muddy tones.

Having a good selection of palettes allows you to experiment with color mixing techniques without the risk of contaminating your main paint tubes. Using a palette knife can aid in mixing colors effectively on the palette before applying them to your canvas.

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your First Acrylic Painting

Sketching Your Subject

Start your acrylic painting by lightly sketching the subject on the canvas with a pencil or charcoal. This initial step helps you plan out the composition and placement of objects. Think of it as creating an outline before coloring in a coloring book. The sketch doesn’t have to be detailed; it’s just a guide for where things will go.


  • Helps plan out composition
  • Provides a guideline for painting


  • Erasing can smudge paint
  • Might need practice to get proportions right

Applying an Underpainting Layer

After sketching, apply an underpainting layer using diluted paint. This layer helps establish basic shapes and values in your painting. It acts as a foundation for the subsequent layers of paint that you’ll add later on. Think of this step like setting up the base colors before adding details.

If you’ve ever wondered if this really makes a difference in your painting, take a look at MazArtStudio’s full tutorial where she shows you the benefits of underpainting. Maz’s tutorial is for oil painting but this is the same concept for Acrylic but you will use water to dilute your paint.

Process for Underpainting

  • Dilute acrylic paint with water for this layer
  • Focus on getting basic shapes and values right
  • Mis some water with your acrylic paint
  • Use this diluted mixture to fill in the shapes from your sketch
  • Don’t worry about details at this

Sketching your Reference

  1. Mix some water with your acrylic paint.
  2. Use this diluted mixture to fill in the shapes from your sketch.
  3. Don’t worry about details at this stage; focus on getting the overall structure right.

Experimenting with Colors, Textures, and Techniques

Exploring Color Combinations

Acrylic paints come in a vast array of colors. When you start painting, try mixing different hues to discover unique combinations. For instance, blending blue and yellow can create a vibrant green shade. By experimenting with various color mixes, you’ll develop an eye for creating visually appealing artwork.

Try combining warm colors like reds and oranges or cool tones such as blues and purples. The possibilities are endless.

Creating Texture Through Techniques

To add depth and interest to your painting, consider incorporating various textures using different techniques. Dry brushing involves using a small amount of paint on the brush for a feathery effect while palette knife application creates thick textures by spreading paint with a palette knife.

Another way to enhance your artwork is by utilizing texture mediums that can be mixed directly into the acrylic paint. These mediums allow you to achieve raised surfaces or interesting patterns within your piece.

For a more in depth overview of acrylic painting techniques for adding texture check out Jennifer Funnell’s video Acrylic Painting Techniques.

  • Acrylic paints offer a wide range of colors.
  • Create texture through dry brushing or palette knife application.
  • Experiment with texture mediums like gels or pastes for added dimension.

Trying Different Painting Techniques

When starting your acrylic painting journey, it’s essential to explore various techniques that can elevate your artistry. One technique is glazing, which involves layering transparent colors over each other to create rich depth in your artwork.

Stippling is another method where small dots of color are applied closely together to form shapes or textures. Lastly, impasto refers to applying thick layers of paint onto the canvas for a three-dimensional effect that adds visual interest and character to your work.

By practicing these diverse techniques regularly, you’ll not only improve your skills but also develop a unique artistic style that sets you apart from others in the art community.

  • Experiment with glazing by layering transparent colors.
  • Try stippling by applying small dots of color close together.
  • Explore impasto by adding thick layers of paint for dimension.

Tips for Preserving and Varnishing Your Finished Artwork

Let It Dry Completely

Once you finish your acrylic painting, ensure it dries thoroughly before applying varnish. This step is crucial as varnishing a wet painting can lead to issues like cracking or trapping moisture.

Varnishing serves multiple purposes such as protecting your artwork from dust and UV rays. It helps enhance the colors of your painting, making them more vibrant and long-lasting.

Choose the Right Varnish

When selecting a varnish for your acrylic paintings, opt for products specifically designed for this medium. You can choose between brush-on or spray-on varnishes based on your preference and experience level.

  • Pros: Protects the surface, enhances colors, shields from dust.
  • Cons: Incorrect application may affect the painting negatively.

Remember that proper application is key to achieving optimal results when varnishing acrylic paintings. Take your time and follow instructions carefully to preserve and showcase your artwork effectively.

Disposal of Waste Materials and Cleaning Brushes

Responsible Disposal

To start acrylic painting, it’s crucial to dispose of waste materials properly. Check local guidelines for disposal regulations. Avoid pouring excess paint down the drain as it can harm the environment.

  • Dispose of acrylic waste responsibly
  • Check local regulations for proper disposal methods

When cleaning brushes, use water and mild soap immediately after each painting session. Rinse thoroughly until no color remains on the bristles. Dry them flat to maintain their shape.

  • Clean brushes with water and mild soap
  • Dry brushes flat to preserve bristle quality

Preventing Damage

Prevent damage to your brushes by avoiding letting acrylic paint dry on them. If left to dry, the paint hardens, making it challenging to clean later. Use paper towels or a cloth while painting to wipe excess paint off your brush.

  • Avoid letting acrylic paint dry on brushes
  • Wipe excess paint with paper towels or cloth

Remember, caring for your tools is essential in starting acrylic painting successfully. By following these steps diligently, you can ensure that your materials stay in good condition for future artistic endeavors.

You’ve now got the acrylic painting basics down pat! From understanding paint types to setting up your creative space and diving into your first masterpiece, you’re well on your way. Remember, art is about expression, so don’t be afraid to experiment with colors, textures, and techniques. Let your creativity flow freely onto the canvas!

As you embark on your acrylic painting journey, keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Don’t get discouraged by mistakes; they’re all part of the learning process. So grab those brushes, mix those colors, and let your imagination run wild. Your artistic adventure awaits!


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right acrylic paints for my artwork?

When selecting acrylic paints, consider factors like pigment quality, opacity, and permanence. Opt for artist-grade paints for better color vibrancy and lightfastness. Experiment with different brands to find what works best for your style.

What are the essential supplies needed to start acrylic painting?

You’ll need acrylic paints in various colors, paintbrushes of different sizes and shapes, a palette for mixing colors, canvas or paper as your painting surface, water or mediums for thinning paint, and a comfortable workspace with good lighting.

How should I prepare my painting surface before starting an acrylic painting?

Prepare your surface by applying a primer or gesso to create a smooth base that enhances paint adhesion. Use brushes or rollers to apply an even coat and let it dry completely before beginning your artwork.

Can I mix different brands of acrylic paint together?

Yes! Mixing different brands of acrylic paint is common practice among artists. However, be mindful of differences in consistency and drying times between brands when blending colors to achieve desired results in your paintings.

What is the best way to clean my brushes after using acrylic paints?

After painting with acrylics, rinse your brushes thoroughly in warm soapy water immediately to prevent the paint from drying on the bristles. Gently reshape them and lay flat to dry. For stubborn dried-on paint, use brush cleaning solutions specific for acrylics.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Share this Article!

Scroll to Top