Getting Creative With Acrylic Paints – The Basics

Getting Creative With Acrylic Paints – The Basics

Acrylic paints are one of the most versatile of all the art mediums. They can mimic oils and watercolors simply by changing or experimenting with different techniques, or they can be used to create unique projects using a mixed-media approach.

Washes and Underpainting - One of the first and easiest techniques to master and which gives you a watercolor look is that of washing or underpainting. In this technique, you can either wet your painting surface or you can mix water with your paints. Now you are ready to apply the underpainting by loosely brushing color onto your surface. By using this technique, you block out the white background and create a foundation for your other color values. Acrylic paint can either be diluted with water or with glazing mediums. If you use water, go easy on it because as water is diluting the paints, it is also diluting the strength of the binder in them and can result in dull or cracked paint.

Wet Into Wet – Acrylic paints dry rapidly; this is both one of their pros and cons. By using a wet into wet technique, you need to work very quickly or use a retardant medium to keep your acrylics wetter longer. Sgraffito is a painting technique that you can achieve with acrylic paints that mimics oils. Sgraffito is where the artists scratches in to the top layer of paint to reveal areas of the surface underneath. If the under layer of paint is dry, you may end up puncturing your painting instead of getting the desired result.

Dry Brushing – This is another technique that mimics the effects you can achieve with oils. By using a bristle brush, relatively “dry” paint is applied to a textured, completely dry painted surface. A stiff-haired bristle brush will scratch away some of the top color, leaving the undercoat to show through.

Varnishing – Using a varnish as your finishing step is simply a matter of personal preference. Acrylic varnish will not yellow and remains flexible. Varnishes are available in matte, semi-matte and gloss and are either permanent or removable. Varnishing protects the painting and helps to unify the different techniques an artist may have used.

As always, you can find all the acrylic acrylic painting supplies mentioned above in our store.