Step One: Set Up Your Painting Station
Set up your easel and supplies in a peaceful area of your home or even outside. “Place your canvas on the easel, a rag or paper towel on the palette, and a sturdy cup near the palette for your brushes. “All of these should be oriented according to whether you are left-handed or right-handed,” Webster explains. If you’re indoors, use a tarp, an old rug, or waste bags to cover the floor under you.
Step Two: Practice and Experiment with Your Materials
To master an art form, you must first get familiar with your medium. That involves gaining a feel for how the paint applies, how quickly it dries, how it settles on your chosen canvas, and how it combines with other colors in the case of acrylic painting. You may also play around with additional goods that have an impact on all of the above.
“[For example], there are several products available to ‘stretch’ the paint or adjust the consistency and sheen, such as thickening the paint for a more dimensional impression and switching from a matte to a glossy finish,” Griffin explains. “Most acrylic paints may also be diluted to varied degrees with water or used directly from the tube,” he says.
- Exercise #1: Swatch all your acrylic paint colors on a canvas to get a feel for how quickly they dry, their opacity levels, and how they apply to your canvas.
- Exercise #2: While you do this, feel free to incorporate some of the modifying products Griffin mentioned above to see how it impacts each swatch. You can also experiment with how water affects the consistency and opacity of the paints. If this step overwhelms you, reserve modification products for later.
- Exercise #3: Create a linear gradient from black to white, and another with two corresponding colors — such as red to blue, or yellow to green. This will really help you get a feel for how the paints blend with each other.
Step Three: Conceptualize Your Painting and/or Create a Rough Sketch
Before you put your brush to paper, you’ll want to plan out your painting. This may be as easy as imagining what you want to create and visualizing it in your thoughts, or it could entail spending hours sketching out your picture with a light pencil or charcoal.
“If you’re a’representational’ artist — for example, if you want a flower to appear like a flower — you’d produce a sketch or an under-drawing to help in the arrangement of the painting,” explains Adam Schrimmer, owner and main artist of Blank Canvas Mural Company in Greenville, South Carolina. “Alternatively, ‘plein air’ painting refers to painting in the open air, freehand and straight from observation.”
Step Four: Start Painting
The only thing left for you to do now is to start working on your first acrylic painting. If you’re still unsure about jumping in, we recommend sticking to just a few hues, but if you’re feeling brave, the world is your colorful oyster.
When painting with acrylics, there are a few common guidelines to remember:
Make your way from mid/light tones to deeper hues. “Start with the bigger mid-tone, then add darker tones for depth, then finish with highlights,” Webster advises. “The mid-tone allows you to focus on shape and form, while the deeper tones create depth and the brighter hues show where the light falls. As you progress through the work, it’s a balancing act.”
Begin with huge shapes and work your way down to minute details. It’s far easier to go back over your larger forms and add tiny details than it is to go the other way. As you work, you should imagine the picture “coming into focus.”
Keep in mind that acrylics dry quite rapidly. This implies you should accomplish the most of your mixing on your palette before moving on to the canvas. You may spritz your paints with a spray bottle to keep them wet as you work, giving you a little extra time. Step one’s activities will help you develop a feel for how acrylic paints adhere and dry.
“Whether working in the abstract or painting a portrait, a good painter captures the essence of a thing.” Try to get out of the mechanics of the application while painting and get deeper into the mood and experience,” adds Webster. “This will give your work a distinct identity and allow you to experiment more freely and artistically with paints.”
Step Five: Preserve & Move Forward
Acrylic paints, as previously said, are water-resistant and dry rapidly, allowing them to last a long time on their own. If you’re really proud of a painting and want to guarantee that it lasts, or if you want to add additional dimension, we recommend varnishing it using an acrylic-approved varnish. This will give your paintwork a gleaming, crystalline appearance while also protecting it from scratches and peeling paint.
No worries if you weren’t blown away by your first artwork. You’ll be hard-pressed to discover a novice who produces a masterpiece right away. This is only the beginning of your acrylic adventure, and there’s plenty more to come. “I believe in ‘go big or go home,'” Schrimmer adds.