Acrylic Painting Tips for Artists

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

Are you working with acrylics? This article is about best tips one should keep in mind while painting with acrylics. Few of these tricks can also be treated as  acrylic painting techniques.

1. Good Composition

couple sitting in balcony with sea and mountain view in background

Create a composition that is visually appealing to the viewer. It holds the viewer’s attention and lets the viewer’s eye move around the whole picture.

One of the simple ways to do it is to pick a piece of cardboard and cut a rectangular window in the middle. Now close one eye and check your composition through this window. It helps in composing your drawing and painting. A well-designed composition in painting will lead the viewer’s eye right directly to it.

The prime area of interest in the painting is known as the focal point. Create a focal point anywhere but not directly in the middle of the canvas. Focal points can also contrast the lightest and darkest values near each other, engaging the viewer.

2. Rule of Thirds

Landscape Painting with a big tree, grass and pathway

The Rule of Thirds 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 example, a clash of warm colors with cool like red against green or blue against orange.

Saturation Contrast 

A contrast between saturated and dull colors is referred to as saturation contrast. For example, a saturated red against a light red. Not everyone gives importance to this contrast, but it can add a powerful element to your 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 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 creates an interest in painting by adding a sophistication factor. The depth created by texture gives a three-dimensional look to a flat surface.

You have to experiment if you want to create a attractive texture. You can start with gesso, texture medium, sand, or tissue paper. There are various kinds of acrylic texture feel that you can create such as soft, rough, rugged. Paint lightly over the texture to get a lively painting.

The smooth texture can be effective for painting calm, not so prominent objects or distant areas. Use thick texture to depict any dramatic emotions. To create more depth in your painting, you can use rough texture in the foreground and smooth in the background. Another way to get a stronger contrast between lights and dark is by using thick paint for your lights and thin paint for your dark.

5. Pause in between

It's easy to lose the perspective of what you are painting. That is why you need to step back from time to time, walk around it, view it from different angles.

You can hang it in another light and have a look at the overall work often. By taking only a few steps back, you will instantly see how the colors are coming collectively. See if they need any changes or your objects are at scale. Avoid overdoing and stop when you think it is done.

6. Shoot progressive photographs of your painting

This will not only give you an impressive record of your painting but will also provide valuable insights on the place you might have the ability to improve your painting.

You can look at the progress photos during the day when you aren't painting to work out what the upcoming steps will be together with 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. Make sure there is enough paint on the brush. 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 colors without Mediums

You'll be able to turn any color into an opaque color if blended thickly with ceramic white. If you are looking for opaque or even transparent color, this is a good choice.

I suggest not adding water into the mix but leaving it thick using just the ceramic white and color of your choice. This tip will work only with acrylic and not watercolor.

9. Use Artist Quality Materials

While a budget may restrict you from investing in high-quality materials but the truth is  you will end up making assets over the long run. The reason is that products will not deteriorate any soon, and your finished artworks will be of a higher quality and last longer.

Paints and Brushes, it is always a good idea to invest in good quality brushes. For paints, look for 'Artist Quality', not 'Student Quality' as you can see the difference in most of the colors.

If you are planning to sell your work, do not compromise on quality. To save money on paint, I'd suggest you learn how to paint with a very restricted palette - blue, red, yellow, white, and burnt umber are enough colors to start with. 

Add medium or gel with paint to make it thinner or thicker, respectively. Medium is made from the binder that is used in creating acrylic paints. 

Instead of using thick paint, it is possible to create texture using a gel and paint on top. There are no limitations to the amount of gel you can add when mixing the paint with gels. The paint mixture becomes less and less opaque. 

10. If you are stuck on a painting, then stop for some time

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!

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