Acrylic Painting

Crucial Painting tips for beginners and artist. Subjects like composition, rule of third, contrast colors, value contrast, texture, blending, medium

This article is for beginners looking to work with acrylic paints. It has tips that one should keep in mind while painting. We have also discussed few acrylic painting techniques in the article.

1. Good Composition

couple sitting in balcony with sea and mountain view in background

A well-designed composition is crucial to create a visually appealing artwork that holds the viewer's attention. One simple technique to achieve this is by using a rectangular window cut into a piece of cardboard. This helps in framing and composing the drawing or painting.

It's important to create a focal point in the painting, which is the main area of interest. However, it's best to avoid placing it directly in the center of the canvas. 

Try to place the focal point off-center and use contrasting values (light and dark) to create visual interest and engage the viewer's eye. By following these tips, you can create a composition that draws the viewer in and keeps them engaged with your artwork.

2. Rule of Thirds

Landscape Painting with a big tree, grass and pathway

The Rule of Thirds is a popular composition guideline in visual arts and photography. 

It states that to make the image look most appealing, divide the image into three lines - both horizontally and vertically. Now place the subject alongside an intersection of these lines.

Essentially, this rule of the thirds helps you find the right point for placing your object of interest. The thing that eyes meet first in your painting is referred to as an object here.

In this rule of thirds example, the object of interest i.e., the tree, is placed at the intersection of lines. 

The picture wouldn't look pretty if the tree were placed at the center of the canvas. This rule is one of the many rules. Feel free to use other rules, but this rule is excellent for composition.


3. Contrast in art

Contrast is everything in art. It is essential to know how to create stunning contrast. You have to fill some areas and slightly ignore some surfaces.

It is a powerful skill that can bring out great artwork when used by artists carefully and precisely. There are three types of contrast in art.  

Figurative Painting with contrast colors

Hue Contrast (Color Contrast)

The contrast between different colors on the color wheel is known as Hue contrast. It is not affected by value and saturation. For instance, when two complementary colors such as red and green are used together, they create a sense of vibrancy and balance.

Saturation Contrast 

A contrast between saturated and dull colors is referred to as saturation contrast. For example, a saturated red against a light red. This type of contrast is often overlooked, but can add a powerful element to a painting

Value contrast 

A sharp contrast between light and dark color is called value contrast. You will agree, humans' eyes are very responsive to value contrast. When a painter uses light and dark shades in their painting, it creates a sense of depth and three-dimensional look, making the painting more dynamic.

When you change any one aspect of color (the value, hue, or saturation), you should understand that there are usually implications on the other aspects. Hence this is widely considered by artists before making changes to any part.

4. Texture Layers 

Colorful Texture painting
Texture painting adds a layer of sophistication and interest to artwork by providing depth to a flat surface, creating a three-dimensional appearance. To create an attractive texture, experimentation is key.
Artists can start with using gesso, texture medium, sand, or tissue paper to create different kinds of acrylic texture, such as soft, rough, or rugged. When painting over the texture, a light touch is often the best way to achieve a lively and engaging painting.

Smooth texture is ideal for painting calm or less prominent objects or distant areas, while thick texture can convey dramatic emotions. To create more depth, artists can use rough texture in the foreground and smooth texture in the background. 

Additionally, using thick paint for lights and thin paint for darks can create a stronger contrast between the two. Texture painting is a powerful tool for artists to add dimension and interest to their work.

5. Pause in between

Maintaining perspective is crucial in painting to create a visually appealing and accurate depiction. It can be easy to lose perspective while working on a painting for an extended period. To prevent this, it is essential to step back and take breaks often. Walking around the painting and viewing it from different angles can help in regaining perspective.

Hanging the painting in different lighting conditions can also help in getting a fresh perspective on the work. Taking a few steps back from the painting can give an overall view of the colors used and the painting's composition. 

It is crucial to avoid overdoing the painting, which can result in a cluttered or overly complicated composition. Knowing when to stop and calling the painting done is an essential skill for an artist.

6. Shoot progressive photographs of your painting

Keeping progress photos of your artwork is not only a great way to document your painting journey but also provides valuable insights into areas that may need improvement.

By looking at your progress photos, you can reflect on your painting process and identify areas where you can improve.

It's a good idea to take progress photos throughout your painting process, and then take some time to review them during the day when you're not painting. This allows you to see your work from a fresh perspective and make informed decisions about the next steps you should take in your painting.

7. Practice blending

Sunset with yellow orange red umber colors

Mixing paint is just one of those trickier acrylic painting techniques to master.  

Take a damp brush and dip it into the paint. Cover a small area on the canvas by going back and forth in a horizontal direction. There should be enough paint on the surface so the brush glides smoothly. 

Now clean the brush, dip it in another paint and start painting from the edge of the first color. Blend the two shades and paint the next color from there onward. Take another blending brush and make the two colors come together by blending it smoothly. 

The quick-drying nature of acrylics can make mixing a challenge, but by practicing blending your colors, you're going to get the hang of it.

8. Create opaque vs transparent effect 

Rainy day with blue umrella on a cart

Creating a blend of opaque and transparent effects with acrylic paints can bring a dynamic and captivating quality to your artwork. By combining both techniques, you can achieve a balance between solid coverage and subtle transparency.

Start by applying layers of opaque paint to establish a strong base and define your composition. Then, introduce transparent acrylics to add depth and dimension. Use glazing techniques, thin washes, or transparent overlays to allow the underlying layers to shine through, creating a sense of luminosity and complexity. 

The interplay between opaque and transparent areas can bring richness and complexity to your colors, making your artwork visually engaging and inviting closer inspection. 

9. Use Artist Quality Materials

Investing in high-quality materials is important in the long run, even if it means working within a budget. Higher quality products will last longer and produce higher quality artwork.

When it comes to brushes and paints, it is recommended to invest in good quality brushes and artist quality paints rather than student quality. If you plan to sell your artwork, it's important not to compromise on quality.

To save money on paint, consider using a restricted palette of blue, red, yellow, white, and burnt umber to start with. Adding medium or gel to paint can make it thinner or thicker, respectively. Gel can also be used to create texture in a painting, and there are no limitations to the amount of gel that can be added when mixing it with paint. 

10. If you are stuck on a painting, then take a break

Take a break or start a new painting if you are stuck on a single painting for long. The solution may be as simple as a single brushstroke, but it takes time to realize that. If you rush through a problem, you will more often overwork the painting, so do not rush.

Other times, you lack interest and do not feel motivated to paint. Stop again. Take a break totally for a few days or till you are ready. Recharge yourself by doing things that make you happy. Now come back energetic and in a cheerful mood to paint something beautiful again!

The final suggestion is, Keep Painting! 

Practice makes a man better at anything. So keep painting and keep learning. You will see that with each day, you are learning something new and getting better.

Be proud. You have given it a try and have come till here. Even if you fail several times, it is okay! Try something new (painting, technique, medium, craft) each day to get closer to art!

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips and they can be of great help to you.

Keep painting!