How to paint with acrylics?
April 25, 2006 8:52 PM   Subscribe

I want to start painting with acrylics. What are good, inexpensive supplies to get? What are some good resources/websites to learn how to start?

I've bought some canvases, some cheap acrylics paints, and some cheap brushes and tomorrow I'm going to experiment.

Any specific brands I should buy? Any specific methods I should be aware of? Any resources I should know about?
posted by petah to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I really like Golden acrylics myself, but when I'm feeling cheap I use Liquitex basics, which are bottom of the line student paints. I get reasonable results with the cheap stuff, but I find it a more frustrating experience and don't enjoy the feel of moving the paint around. I prefer to buy only a few colors of a better quality paint and learn to use those well.
As far as saving money, learning to stretch canvas yourself can help a lot, as well as getting you a nicer surface to work on.
I haven't used the acrylics channel specifically, but for other media I've found the forums at Wetcanvas to be very helpful.
posted by jheiz at 10:09 PM on April 25, 2006

You should get some acrylic medium to mix with your color (gloss, matte or whatever other texture and finish you like)--use this rather than water. It will extend the color so you get the most out of your dollar. Acrylics dry very quickly. If you buy some 'retarder' it will slow the drying process, both saving the paint you've squeezed out on your palette from hardening before you use it, and keeping the paint on your canvas 'workable'. Stick to a few pig bristle brushes; they're fairly cheap and you don't need anything fancier than that, just make sure the ferrule (the metal part) is firmly attached (try pulling them off) to the wooden handle--sometimes the dirt cheap ones skimp on cheap glue. Keep a jar of water around to keep your brushes moist as you work, shake them out or dab them on an old t-shirt before they go back in the color, and wash them with a little bar soap when you're done painting. Dried-on acrylic can wreck a brush. The best acrylic in my opinion (this has been my business) is Golden, but you shouldn't buy anything that's so expensive that you have to feel stingy with it. There are some good student brands out there, and there's some real crap. The crap will look milky or plasticky or like vaseline with food coloring. The good stuff is densely loaded with pigment and a little goes a very long way, and the colors you blend won't get muddy. But for now just buy primaries and lots white and black. Go wild, and have fun.
posted by tula at 10:56 PM on April 25, 2006

I third the recommendations for Golden, but I use Liquitex like crazy (because I have a painting style that, um, uses a lot of paint). ;)

There is a palette you can get for acrylics that has a sheet of absorbent material at the bottom, and above that a "membrane" sheet; you wet the absorbent sheet, and put the membrane on top of it, then put the paint on the membrane. Use this as your palette, then at the end of your painting session, you put a lid over it and because of the dampness, it will stay workable for ages. Depending on your style, this might be a good investment. (I didn't need it so much for the way I paint as I don't usually have to keep mixed colors over for multiple sessions. In fact, I ruined two of those palettes by stepping on them, but that's another story...)

I also enjoyed using gel mediums/sand mediums and things like that that give the paint additional texture on the canvas, but it really depends on your style and interests. Still, if you are just learning, haunt the sale/clearance areas at your local art supply store and pick up some of those unusual mediums if you want to experiment.

Acrylic is great stuff -- it can look like oil or like watercolor, or many things in between, so have fun!
posted by litlnemo at 11:31 PM on April 25, 2006

Quad recommendation for Golden. And pretty much everything tula said.
I use copious amounts of gloss medium in my paintings, layering glazes upon glazes, building up depths of color and texture. I work large-ish, too. 4x5, mostly.
I buy my stuff primarily from Jerry's, but i'm sure there are other good sources out there. Everyone seems to have their fave.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:55 AM on April 26, 2006

I've found Betty Edwards' Color book pretty useful. It's a book about color theory, color mixing, and painting. You could use any paint, but she recommends acrylics.

I buy paints from Dick Blick. I usually buy their "house brand" artist's acrylics, but I've also used Golden. They seem the same to me, but I'm hardly an expert. I do use Golden's gel media, but mostly because I have a lot of it for other stuff.
posted by sevenless at 11:34 AM on April 26, 2006

« Older Salt death?   |   Low-tech exhibit projection at a mock trial Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.