Princeton Blog

3 Common Acrylic Painting Mistakes and Ways to Fix Them

Whether you’re new to painting or an experienced artist working with acrylic paint for the first time, there are a few common mistakes that you might run into. Fortunately, they’re easy to avoid if you know what to look out for.

Over Diluting The Paint

Many artists apply a light wash over their canvas as an undercoat to establish color, shape, and form. However, acrylic paint loses its ability to bond when diluted with an excess of water. Depending on the surface and absorbency of canvas in some cases, diluted acrylic will not cure.


  • When diluting acrylic with water, there should be no more than 30% water to 70% acrylic.
  • In order to create a wash that bonds to the surface, replace the water with acrylic medium and it will adhere beautifully.

Waiting Too Long To Blend

One of the main benefits of working with acrylic paint is how quickly it dries. You can build layers of paint with almost no delay.  If acrylic paint sets before you have a chance to blend,  you may end up with hard edges and in some cases, you may pull up the layers of paint beneath the area you are working on.


  • Planning your work before you begin can help speed up the blending process.
  • Keep your acrylic cool! Use ice in your water container and a sta-wet palette to keep your acrylics moist and cool.
  • Use a mop. Mop brushes can help to blend and soften areas and edges quickly.  View some extra soft Velvetouch mops HERE.
  • Mist your canvas with water while you work.
  • Use extenders to keep the paint moving longer.

Using the Wrong Brush

3 Common Acrylic Painting Mistakes and Ways to Fix Them

There are a lot of options when it comes to brushes and it can seem overwhelming when you’re just starting out, especially if you’re working with a limited budget.

Artists new to the medium can waste a lot of time (not to mention paint) struggling to make a brush do something it was never meant to do.  Brushes that are too stiff can cut through the paint when too much pressure is used and brushes that are too soft may not layer the paint as you desire.


  • Research can go a long way. Understand the type of hair in a brush and what it is intended for. Visit our brush anatomy page to understand your tools HERE.
  • Play with different shapes and sizes. The good news is that you can create beautiful and professional paintings without breaking the bank. As you get used to working in acrylic, try different shapes and sizes buy purchasing starter sets. A lot of brushes are incredibly versatile and even a small set can be enough to practice and experiment with.





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