Great Acrylic Painting Tips
Acrylic paint is a very versatile medium to use. I have put together a few ideas here that you might like to consider when creating your own masterpieces.
- If you want to create straight edges in your painting you can use masking tape. You could also use masking fluid designed for watercolour for more elaborate masking. One problem – it is advisable to remove the masking fluid as soon as possible. If it is left for more than about 12 hours it can be difficult to remove.
- Imagine you want to create some great texture effects try loading the brush with two colours. Using a flat or filbert brush carefully dip one side of the brush in one colour, then the other side in another colour. Dragging the brush over the painting surface will produce a stripped effect, stippling the brush produces wonderful effects that can be adapted for painting such things as trees for example. Remember acrylic paint can be applied with lots of items to create special effects.
- Tie a knot in a piece of string, paint the string in green and put a blob of yellow on the knot. Flick the string at the canvas, instant daffodils or grasses.
- Imagine taking a piece of fabric with a very frayed edge, lay this on your painting and paint from the material over the frayed edge onto your work. The result is a wonderfully textured effect that could be grass, hair or whatever.
- Another great acrylic painting tip is to make highlights very thick and shadows very thin. This helps to create a 3d effect. To create a long thick highlight fully load your brush with paint and as you apply the paint rotate the brush so a thick ridge of paint is left along one edge.
- Finally, it is possible to mix various inert substances with acrylic paint to create textures. Sand, talcum powder, fine sawdust can all be mixed with the paint to create rough sections. I would recommend using an old brush.
All good quality makes of household paint that are water based are actually acrylic so for a cheap way of painting on a large scale or simply priming a large board, use emulsion paint. You can actually colour emulsion paint by mixing acrylic paint with it. This is great if you are doing murals or the like. If you want to prepare something to paint on try this.
- Take a large sheet of sugar paper or cartridge paper and paint both sides with white emulsion paint. It is less likely to wrinkle if both sides are painted. You can use card board, MDF board, anything that will take emulsion paint.
- Keeping Acrylic Paints Workable: Because acrylics dry so fast, squeeze only a little paint out of a tube. If you’re using a ‘normal’ plastic palette invest in a spray bottle so you can spray a fine mist over the paint regularly to keep it moist. Stay-wet palettes– where the paint sits on a sheet of wax paper placed on top of a damp piece of watercolour paper – eliminates the need to do this.
- Blot your Brushes: Keep a piece of paper towel or cloth next to your water jar and get into the habit of wiping your brushes on it after you rinse them. This prevents water drops running down the ferrule and onto your painting, making blotches.
- Opaque or Transparent: If applied thickly – either straight from the tube or with very little water added – or if mixed with a little white, virtually all acrylic colours can be opaque. If diluted with lots of water, they can become almost transparent like watercolour paint and be used to create similar effects.
- Acrylic ‘Watercolour’ Washes: When an acrylic wash dries, it’s permanent and, unlike a watercolour wash is insoluble and can be over-painted without fear of disturbing the existing wash. The colours of subsequent washes mix optically with the earlier ones, so a yellow wash over a blue wash will create green.
- Think Thin When Thinking Glazes: If you want transparent glazes. these should be built up in thin layers; a heavy layer will produce a glossy surface. Do not add white as this will make the glaze opaque.
- Improve Flow Without Losing Colour: Acrylic colours loose their colour strength the more you dilute with water. To increase the flow of a colour with minimal loss of colour strength, use a flow-improver medium rather than water.
- Blending Acrylic Paints: Because acrylics dry rapidly, you need to work fast if you wish to blend colours. If you’re working on paper, dampening the paper will increase your working time.
- Hard Edges: Masking tape can be put onto and removed from dried acrylic paint without damaging an existing layer. This makes it easy to produce a hard or sharp edge. Make sure the edges of the tape are stuck down firmly and don’t paint too thickly on the edges, otherwise you won’t get a clean line when you lift it. Paint along the edge of the tape and not up to it as this may drive paint underneath the tape.
- Washing-up Liquid with Masking Fluid: Masking fluid can be used with acrylics washes, just as you do with watercolours. To avoid masking fluid drying on a brush, when it becomes nearly impossible to remove, dip the brush into some washing-up liquid before using the masking fluid. The masking fluid will now easily wash out of the brush.
- Using Acrylic Paint as a Glue for Collage: Provided it’s used fairly thickly and the item to be stuck isn’t too heavy, acrylic paint will work as a glue in a collage. Acrylic glaze medium is a much stronger ‘glue’ and will dry to strong, clear and flexible finish.
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