Step 1 – Getting to Know Your Materials
Acrylic paints are made of colored pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are water-soluble but are water-resistant when dry. Due to this characteristic, acrylic paints can be used on paper, wood as well as on canvas. The consistency of the colors is more or less like watercolors and much like the latter, they also usually come in tubes. Some of the best brands of acrylic paints are Winsor and Newton, Daler-Rowney and Atelier. At Heartroom Gallery, we also carry acrylic paint by “Jo Sonja” which is often used for Folk Art Painting.
Base – Paper/Canvas/Wood
Acrylic paints are very versatile when it comes to the material of the surface being used. Any material that is non-porous and non-greasy can be painted using these paints.
In this article, however, we will be focusing on acrylic painting on canvas or canvas board. It is the most widespread and common support for acrylic paints. Canvases are readily available at any art supplies store. These canvases are already stretched and primed. You can also stretch your canvas using some simple tools and prime it with Gesso to prepare it for the painting.
Pencil/Dry Pastels and Eraser
Canvases can be drawn on with a pencil or with dry pastels just like paper. The better options are dry pastels or chalk because it is easier to erase them in the case of a mistake. Rubbing the eraser too hard on the canvas while trying to erase pencil marks can loosen the stretched canvas sheet.
As Acrylic paints use water as the base. It is important to replace the water several times in case it gets too dirty or dark.
A wooden or plastic palette will be needed for you to mix and use the paints. A flat palette works best for acrylic paints. To avoid dirtying the palette too much, you can consider using aluminum foil to cover the palette first.
Paint Brushes/Palette Knives
Acrylic paintings can be done using paint brushes as well as by directly applying paint with a palette knife. Using palette knives to paint gives more texture and volume. However, if your subject has a lot of color variations, consider sticking to paint brushes. You must make sure that you wash the paint brushes immediately after use because acrylic paints can get crusty after drying and can completely ruin your brushes.
Step 2 – Choosing Your Subject
The first step to acrylic painting is to decide what it is your want to paint. If this is your first attempt, start with something small and less complicated. It is always best to start with simple landscapes or a still life painting. You can move onto to more complex images once you have mastered the basic techniques.
Step 3 – Preparing for Acrylic Painting
Painting is a lot like cooking. You must prepare all your ingredients beforehand to ensure that the cooking process is smooth and the dish perfect. Similarly, it is best to prepare all your tools before you begin painting. Following are some tips to help you with this –
- Sharpen your pencil (if required) and keep an eraser at hand.
- Make sure that your canvas is stretched properly and does not have any dents. The canvas must also be primed evenly.
- Keep close by some clean water.
- All your paint brushes must be properly cleaned beforehand. Remember to keep your acrylic paint brushes separate from those that have been used to do oil painting.
- Keep a rag or an old towel within reach to dry the paint brushes or wipe off extra paint.
- Wear an apron.
Step 4 – Drawing on Canvas
Although canvas can be drawn on with a pencil just like paper, the two surfaces are very different from each other. Canvases have a rough and uneven surface which makes drawing a little less smooth. You can use a pencil to draw if you are reasonably confident about your skills. Dry pastels and chalk are much easier to erase and are, therefore, a much better option for drawing on the canvas.
Lightly draw the outline of your image onto the canvas. Make sure that the proportions are right. If need be, you can also mark the dark and light areas using the pencil or pastels. Brush up the canvas to remove any extra chalk powder or eraser remnants once completed.
Step 5 – Acrylic Painting on Canvas
Once you are confident about the drawing, you can begin the painting. If this is your first attempt, it is best to practice some basic techniques on spare canvas sheets. Start with the following methods.
Flat Coloring Technique
The flat coloring technique is the way in which you spread a single color across the entire area. This approach is employed in giving the base coats for your painting.
As opposed to flat coloring, blending is the mixing of two colors and is the most important technique to learn. You can choose to apply the paints onto the canvas and then blend them in using a different softer paint brush
Impasto is a technique employed to create a relief effect. The best way to do this is to apply large amounts of paint using a palette knife. There is no water required for this method.
These basic techniques are relatively easy to get a hang of, and you will be starting work on your painting in no time. Start with the background and then move on to the subject. After a first flat color layer, you can start adding the details. Acrylic paint dries much faster than oil paint and therefore, it is best to blend the colors quickly and simultaneously. The best way to avoid mistakes is to focus on a single area at a time rather than moving back and forth across the canvas. Remember to add the highlights right at the end.
At Heartroom Gallery we believe that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to painting, or in fact art in general. The most important part is that you enjoy the entire experience. Art Classes at Heartroom Gallery are for all levels and for people who just want to enjoy art in non-structured classes.