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What You Need to Start Painting With Acrylic

Acrylics are among the newest artist products on the market, and enjoy great popularity because they offer:

  • Versatility
  • Ease of use
  • Solvent-free cleanup
  • Great results

Of course, as with any art supply product, there is a learning curve to creating great artwork. Here is a list of what you will need to begin creating great acrylic paintings immediately. Beyond this brief list, all you’ll need is your skills and your imagination!

Start With the Right Surface

Acrylic cannot be painted onto oil-based surfaces. This means that you cannot paint acrylic over the top of oil paints or on canvas that has an oil-based primer. There are plenty of acrylic-based primers on the market, as well as canvases primed with acrylic primers. Acrylic painting can also be done on paper, and certain wood surfaces, though experimentation will be necessary to get the final results you desire.

Keep Your Paints Moist

Acrylic paints are famous for their quick drying time. This is a blessing and a curse, as most painters know. But there are special palettes that are very effective in keeping your paints moist while you work. Usually outfitted with a lid, these special acrylic palettes have a paper section that can be wetted. Painters squeeze their paints onto this paper surface and enjoy malleable paints for an extended period. While expensive, these special palettes are well worth the investment, as they will significantly reduce the amount of paint you would otherwise use.

Choose the Right Brush

Many painters enjoy the feel of natural bristle brushes. And while this may be fine for acrylic paints, the reality is that nylon bristle brushes that have been specifically designed for acrylic painting are probably best. They range in stiffness and, of course, bristle orientation (rounds, flat, filbert and fan brushes, among others). It’s probably best to know what consistency of paint you will use. If you are planning on thick viscosity paint, then a stiff bristle brush is best. For very thin paints, choose a much softer bristle, if not airbrushing, depending on the final effect you desire.

Much information exists regarding keeping brushes clean. In general, use a tray of water in which you can leave your brushes while you are working. Laying brushes flat in water will ensure the paint doesn’t dry in the filaments and ruin your brushes. Nothing will cost you more than constantly purchasing new brushes, so take care of the ones you have and they will serve you well.

Last But Not Least… The Paint

To get the best paint, you are going to pay for it. Not all artists, especially those just beginning, can afford expensive paints. Begin with a good ‘student grade’ acrylic and go from there. Almost as important as choosing the type of paint is how you take care of your paints. By cleaning the threads and the inside of the cap, you will have fresh paint ready whenever the muse visits. Many artists buy film canisters and store their paint inside. The larger caps allow you to clean them easier and ensure that a tight seal preserves your investment in quality paints.

 

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