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Painting with acrylic paints can be great fun, relatively cheap and easy to use they can be used anywhere. One of the great things about acrylic paint is the opaque nature of most of the colours, there are ways to make it appear more translucent, but the ability to cover dark colours with light, all within a short drying time, makes them incredibly flexible. Obviously the ability to simply clean brushes in water makes life easy, but do remember to work soap up into the shoulder of the bristles. Once dried, it can be difficult to remove, so cleaning the brushes thoroughly straight after use will save you having to buy replacements because the bristles start to splay out. If you do end up with a brush that starts to splay though, don’t throw it away, I have made some incredibly useful brushes by crushing the ferrule of the brush to splay the bristles into a fan shape, or trimming the splayed bristles into small spikes to help if painting large areas of grass and water, or adding texture to stones and rock faces.
Iridescent colour is also a characteristic of acrylic paint, and bold striking images can be remarkably easy to create. You will need to get used to mixing paints quickly, and tonal shading has to be approached differently, but by mixing the colours down with a lot of water and applying multiple layers over an initial colour will allow you to achieve subtlety as well as boldness from these paints.
When you start, just experiment, have a play, and don’t worry about ‘mistakes’. If Worst comes to worst, you can simply paint over everything in any neutral colour, and start again after it has dried. You can also use drawn guides very easily with acrylic paint. 2 colours can be painted next to each other to create a solid bold line with very little bleed of colour from one side to the other, it is only when you begin to brush across the joining line that the colours will start to mix.
Take a look at the examples below. You can see how bold lines can help you create both vivid contrasting bands of colour, and perfect silhouettes. I love painting starlit skies with acrylic paints, and their ease of use makes sitting outside on a summer night much less effort than when using oils.
You will develop different techniques to achieve what you want. Dry-brushing and layering thin washes are great ways to create depth and texture as well as tonal variations, and you will find many other ways to help express yourself with this wonderful medium.
The ability to work fast with these paints can also help people grow in confidence more quickly, I find the knowledge that you can simply paint over any ‘mistakes’ helps people worry less, and working fast and not thinking too much about the process can lead to some wonderful results.
Remember, enjoy the painting, don’t get too hung up on if it’s everything you wanted, you can add detail, shadow, tone, texture, or simply paint over the whole thing and start again if you really need to. As your confidence grows this will show up in your brushwork, and help you develop further as an artist, all in a remarkably short time. A great addition to any artists toolbox, they are hardwearing, UV stable, and easy to work with, so go on, see what you can create, and let us see the results too, you never know, we may use them (with your permission) to help illustrate this or other blog posts.