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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

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Here are a few tips to help you with Acrylic Painting as your chosen art medium.

Tip 1: Since acrylic paints dry so fast, use only a little paint by squeezing just enough from the tube.

Tip 2: You can avoid making blotches by always keeping a piece of paper towel next to your water. Get into the habit of wiping your brush after rinsing.

Tip 3: Dilute acrylic paints with more water if you want it transparent. For opaque - use little water or mix it with white.

Tip 4:  Use a thin layer of application for glazing.

Tip 5: Use a thick layer of application to produce a glossy surface.

Tip 6: A synthetic substance that can be bought in art stores can be used to help increase the flow of a color with minimal loss of its strength instead of just using water.

Tip 7: You need to work on quickly with blending the colors because the paint dries fast.

Tip 8: You may use a masking tape to set your margins on all sides. You can also use a masking tape over a dried acrylic paint on the surface without damaging the painted surface. Ensure that the edges of the tape are stuck down firmly to have a clean detail of a certain area you are working on.

Tip 9: To reduce cleaning time, use a cling wrap over a mixing palette for mixing the colors. No need to clean, simply throw the used cling wrap away if you are done and replace it with an another piece of cling wrap for the next colors to mix.

Tip 10:  You can also use a cling wrap to cover a paint mixture and keep it damp while you need to do something important in between your painting session.

Tip 11: Always have a jug of clean water near you. A container of water with soap to clean and remove the paint and another container with water for rinsing. Make sure to wipe the brush clean. If you don't have time to clean the brush right away, soak the used brush with paint in water. Never ever leave your brush uncleaned. The paints will stick to the bristles.

Tip 12: Make it a habit to clean all your brushes after a day's session.

Tip 13: Add an impasto gel if you want to create a texture on your painting without having much to use your acrylic paints. This is like an extender that allows you to cover large surfaces or create a textured depth.

Tip 14: You can use a gel retarder to slow down the drying properties of the acrylic paint. This is really very helpful if you need more time working in the process.

Refer to Acrylic Painting for Painting Techniques.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Acrylic Painting

In so many ways Acrylic is very similar to Oil paint. This medium is easier to use and cheap as well. A perfect medium for beginners.


  • Acrylic paint is opaque when undiluted. A color can be painted over another color without showing through. A black paint can be painted over white without showing the former.
  • Quick drying properties. An additive known as retardants can be added if you want to slow down the drying process. The drawback though would be the reduction of the adhesive properties of the paint.
  • Water-based. Brushes are easily cleaned. Paint can be diluted with water to make it go further and transparent. Therefore, it can be used like watercolor.
  • Waterproof. Once dry it becomes waterproof.
  • Dries flat. No thick layer build ups like oil paints. If you prefer a lumpy painting, a special additive can be used which will make the paint thicker that allows you to create special effects.
  • Hue darkens when the paint dries. Take this into consideration when mixing colors.


For hard shiny surfaces like glass or metal, this type of paint can easily be removed by scratching or peeling.
Paint is water soluble, therefore, getting it off from clothes and fabric is very difficult.  Once it dries, it's almost impossible to remove completely. It sticks so well to the fabric. This can also be used for painting designs on T-shirts.


  • Can be used on just about any surface. It adheres best to a surface with a slight texture to it.
  • Canvas and textured papers are the best but you can paint directly onto hardboard or even walls.
  • A palette is recommended.
  • Acrylic brush. This have stiffer bristles. Synthetic bristles are used rather natural hair.


Mixing: A good rule is always add a dark color to a light one; a little at a time until the desired result is achieved.

Base Layer: It is a good practice to apply a base layer of one color onto which all other colors are added. Reason for this is because acrylic paint spreads better on top of a base layer than on top of the paper. This will give you more control as you add succeeding colors. Next is reason is you can leave gaps in the paint and let the base layer show in places. A good way of putting shading effects onto an object is with a dark base layer.

Since acrylics are opaque, it is easier to paint light colors on a dark background rather than the other way around. It is one of the reasons why a lot of artists  uses black as the base layer;  which has become quite a popular choice.


It's recommended to use plenty of paint on a wide brush and not much water. For narrow strokes,  side of the brush is used. Always clean the brush before proceeding to the next color. Never ever leave a brush lying with a paint on it while you work on another brush because when it dries up it will ruin the bristles. If you haven't time to clean, just immerse it into water until you are ready to clean it. Clean brush with a little soap in warm water. Do not use a detergent.

Blending: Shading effects can be simulated using blobs of different colors  but the best way to produce good shading is to blend the paint. Mix paint as you would on any other type of mediums  from one color to another. You need to paint quickly before the paint dries. You can create shading effects using different colors. If you are quick enough, you can even mix the paint directly on the painting or surface. This can only be done before the paint dries, therefore, it is very crucial to be quick before drying overcomes you.

Glazing: A pale color mixture that is very much diluted can almost be completely transparent. Paint it over the dry paint. This can be  repeated a soften as necessary. This will make the glaze look stronger each time a layer is added.

Scumbling. A completely dry brush is used to apply a very thin uneven layer of paint on top of another color. This will give a blotchy effect.

Speckling. A toothbrush can be used to sprinkle over the surface that can produce small dots onto the paper as a speckled effect.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Painting Skies and Clouds in Watercolor

At a glance, painting blue skies for starters seem to be an impossible task. Questions like where to start, how to start and how to blend are the most common thoughts that would run in the mind of an aspiring artist who has never before tried painting skies. I share the same big question marks when I was barely starting landscape painting. Initially, I have much apprehensions because of that large area I have to work on in the paper or in canvas with a brush. I guess, the next question that comes to your mind would be the same question I had - What if drying of paint would overcome my speed of execution? Endless questions. Bottom line is the fear of trying because of what's at stake. Materials are quite expensive. Even the what you call cheap art materials are not really cheap. Not to mention the frustration of not achieving what you expect on the first try. That can be very demotivating. But believe me, most artists had to try several times by doing studies of their chosen subjects.  Lucky are those in this generation as they have several avenues to take in the research  of the different  tips and techniques available both in print and the net. Artists from all walks of life had already done their studies ahead of this generation. With the availability of tutorial references around you, you could start banking on with patience. That's all there is to it. Lots of patience. Most often, several attempts are necessary before achieving the desired results. Practice always makes it perfect.

To start off, know what art medium you want to use. Different mediums have different approach to painting execution. For instance, painting with the use of watercolor as an  art medium is different with how you would with oil or acrylic paint or any art paint for that matter as they all have different properties. Therefore, each medium should be treated differently.


The most common technique used in watercolor is the flatwash. This technique is usually used to cover large areas in the surface. Another application that is useful in painting blue skies  is the graded wash and  wet-in-wet technique.


I. Graded Sky

Flat and graded wash technique is useful on a clear sky with a few clouds.

1. Sketch your horizon based on your landscape subject. What separates the land from the sky? Does your horizon lined with mountains or trees? Or a sea? You have to make sure that whatever you see must be already plotted accordingly on your paper.

2. Prepare your other working materials. Since you are working on with the use of a watercolor, everything must be within reach for easy access. Don't forget to have a roll of toilet paper for dabbing your brush to remove excess water from it. A water filled container for cleaning your brush is likewise necessary. Also, prepare your paint mixture ahead of time.

3. With the flatwash technique, wet the area by applying water on the surface of your paper.

4. Mix more than enough of the needed color in your palette. Your mixture of that color should depend on what type of color it is you see on your subject. Mixture should be as nearest to the the color  as you see it. This is important because the color of the sky depends on the time of day and weather. You see a vibrant blue on a perfect day and a darker blue on a rainy day.

5. Observe your subject. Tilt the paper and start the application with a flat wash.  On the part where you notice the transition from darker hue  to light, start using the graded wash technique by diluting your color mixture with ample amount of water as you bring down your application nearer the horizon. Add more water to the mixture to lighten it. If you are not satisfied with your initial application, you may have to wait for the paint to dry up a bit and repeat the process. Before reapplying, make sure that the surface is just about to  dry otherwise your application may run down on its own. You may, again, repeat the process as you deem fit.

II. Using wet-in- wet technique on clouds

6. If you think you are ready to put in the clouds, on the somewhat wet area, blend in the white mixture on the surface where the clouds should be at. Blend the white mixture on some previously applied blue the way it should be. I would use a cotton ball with pure  white paint  and slightly dab it on the surface to make the result more realistic. You can repeat doing this until satisfied. This part need not be as exactly the way you see on your subject model. Clouds are not static because the wind up there changes its appearance. The objective here is just to arrange the clouds as realistically as you can. 


You'll know the sky is variegated when you see other colors especially in sunrise and sunset settings. Flat and graded wash won't work in this situation unless it's calm or still. In situation where there are lots of motion going on up there, the wet-in-wet technique is most useful and convenient.

1. Observe your subject model. Take note of the different hues of each color you see. Know how many colors you need to prepare. Notice the arrangement of the clouds. Know when you are ready.

2. Create the almost exact  mixture of paints that cover the large area of your subject. Prepare the other color mixture  as well.  Dampen your paper evenly  with clean water.

3. Start applying the paint mixture that dominates the sky with horizontal strokes bringing it down depending on how far it should go until the transition should take place.

4. In transitioning, blend in the next color mixture while previous application is wet. Continue with your strokes until it brings you to the next color. With a clean brush blend in  the next  mixture of colors  well especially on parts that should have a smooth transition, that is  if you want to depict a calm or still sky.

5. For clouds depicting motion, you may use a cotton ball instead of your brush in blending the colors. Dab it lightly on the surface to avoid abrupt smudges as this might make your painting look dirty.

6. Correct abrupt color transition by going over to that area with the mixture of paint you are last working on.