A Beginners Guide to Acrylic Painting with Princeton Brushes
Have you been wanting to try acrylic painting? Starting with a new medium can be scary, so we created some tips and tricks that will make it a breeze! Acrylic paints are an affordable, versatile, and forgiving medium. When painting with acrylic, 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. Let’s get painting!
Tips for Starting with Acrylic Paint
Here are some basic tips to get you started with acrylic painting:
- Acrylic paints are water-soluble – This makes them easy to clean, use, and dilute! Use one container of water for diluting paint and another for rinsing your brushes.
- Be careful not to overdilute your paint – Although you can add water to acrylic paint to dilute it, it should never be more than 30% water to 70% acrylic paint. If you overdilute it, you can compromise the integrity of the binder and it won’t apply well.
- Use thinned paint for underpainting – Adding an underpainting with thinned acrylic paint can enhance your painting’s colors and add light, value, and contrast to your finished piece.
- You only need a few colors to start – If you’re not ready to go all in and buy a huge set of paints, you can start with the basics: cadmium yellow, crimson, phthalo green, phthalo blue, titanium white, and burnt umber.
- Mist your palette with water – Keep your paints wet by misting it with a little water after you’ve applied it to your palette.
- Practice blending colors first – Blending acrylic paint can be tricky at first! We recommend practicing on some scratch paper to learn how quickly they dry. Practice makes perfect!
- Don’t wait too long to blend – Acrylic paint dries quickly which is a huge benefit, however, it makes blending difficult. The best way to blend between colors is to work quickly and use a wet-into-wet technique. Plan accordingly and use a mop brush like the one from our Velvetouch Series.
- Some acrylics darken when they dry – We like to swatch out our colors before even beginning to paint. This way you will know what they will look like and not be surprised by the dried colors.
- Always mix your colors on the palette instead of the canvas – If you need to mix colors, it’s best to do it on a palette. This way you can experiment with color combinations without muddying your colors on the canvas or using a shade you don’t want!
- Don’t be afraid to use bright colors – Acrylic painting is meant to be fun and bold! Use colors that are out of your comfort zone. Your piece will be more dynamic.
- Don’t skimp on your paint – With acrylic less is not more. You want to use large amounts and apply them thickly.
- Use cold and warm shades for contrast – If you put reds, yellows, and oranges next to blues, purples, and greens you’ll make your paintings visually interesting and more realistic looking.
- Acrylic paint cannot be reactivated – Unlike watercolor and gouache, once acrylic paints dry they are permanent and cannot be reactivated with water.
- Paint over your mistakes – With acrylic painting, you can paint over mistakes once your piece is dry. Just paint over any unwanted colors or stray brush strokes. This is why it’s such a forgiving medium!
Basic Supplies for Painting with Acrylics
Choosing new supplies can be daunting! So here are some of our favorites to get you started.
We love Daler-Rowney System3 Acrylics. They have standard acrylic paint, heavy-bodied acrylic, fluid acrylic, and acrylic ink. Here’s how to choose the right viscosity for you:
- System3 Acrylic Paint – These are flexible and quick-drying. They have a medium body viscosity and are great for painting on many indoor and outdoor surfaces.
- System3 Heavy-Bodied Acrylics – They are the thickest type of acrylic paint which makes them great for retaining the texture of your brush strokes. If you want to try doing a thick impasto technique this paint is for you! You can a palette knife or our Catalyst Tools to apply the paint and add fun textures to your pieces.
- System3 Fluid Acrylics – These have a low viscosity and are great for paint pouring, blending, and painting fine details. The application of fluid acrylic is extremely smooth.
- System3 Acrylic Ink – Acrylic Ink is great for creating watercolor-like effects or poured artwork. You can also put them into refillable markers to use as pen and ink. They work great on canvases or paper.
Acrylic paints are great for use on many surfaces from paper to wood, fabric, and walls, but we love using Strathmore Canvas Panels or 400 Series Acrylic Pads.
Best Princeton Brushes for Acrylic Painting
The type of brushes you choose comes down to personal preference, technique, and the type of acrylic paint you will be using. There are a few considerations to make before you take the plunge and invest in a good set of brushes.
The Casual Acrylic Artist
- Velvetouch Brushes – Are our best quality brush for all media including acrylic. These brushes will give you a smooth application and help you paint and blend with ease.
- Select Artiste Brushes – This vast line of 29 distinct shapes, 108 individual brushes created for all media will give you the tools you need to paint beautiful acrylic pieces.
For the fluid acrylic artist:
- Velvetouch Brushes – If you like to work with low viscosity acrylic, almost like watercolor, Velvetouch brushes will work great for you!
- Catalyst Wedges and Blades – These are fantastic for pushing fluid acrylics around and adding texture.
For the heavy-bodied acrylic artist:
- Aspen Brushes – hold a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application. Designed for use with medium to heavy-bodied acrylics, these will become your new favorite!
- Catalyst Brushes – These brushes retain their shape for precise control and placement of color. The heavy-bodied acrylic paint releases and glides evenly off the synthetic hairs.
- Dakota Brushes – Modeled on the look and feel of hog bristle, series 6300 is a perfect brush for painters switching from oils to acrylic or water mixable oil. They work amazingly with heavy-bodied acrylics because of their great snap and shape retention.
- Catalyst Wedges and Blades – Add fun texture and thick layers to your painting by using any of our wedges and blades.
We hope these tips and tricks have made you excited to try acrylic painting! The more you paint, the more you’ll learn, and the better you’ll get. We can’t wait to see what you create!