10 Acrylic Painting Tips

Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman  Date Posted:14 April 2021 

Welcome to the wonderful world of Acrylic paint! Acrylic paint is a great option for beginner painters to explore and experiment with, and we have an array of options for budding creatives. While starting out may seem a bit daunting, we've curated a list of 10 must-know tips and tricks to help you master the art of the medium.

Use synthetic brushes

Acrylic paint is best used with synthetic brushes rather than natural animal hair brushes. Taklon brushes in a variety of sizes are great for acrylic painting. 

Flat brushes features a flat ferrule with a square end

Bright style brushes feature a flat ferrule with a square end. It has shorter hair length than the flat style, and is great for making distinct definite marks.

Filbert style brushes feature a flat ferrule with rounded hair end. This is a versatile brush style that gives a softer finish than the flats or bright. 

Round style brushes feature a round ferrule with round pointed hair. A very popular brush (as are the filberts) with tonal painters. 

Fan-shaped brushes are great for adding highlights in grass and foliage. They are also good for blending. 

Liner brush styles are fantastic for small details and are characterized by their long, thin bristles. 

Large brushes are great for large, expressive, abstract expressionist style works.


Add texture by using impasto and palette knives


To create texture and dimension in your works, use an impasto medium with palette knives to create expressive, heavy-bodied “thick” looking paint strokes. Impasto is a clear drying medium used to create texture and retain brush strokes, and can be mixed with acrylics directly and will not change the effect of the final colour. This is a great way to create visual interest in your works and experiment with different textures and techniques.



For details, use a thin brush with long bristles

To create small details, use a liner brush. Liner brushes feature long, thin bristles, and enable you to control the placement of details and emphasize lines and highlights. 



Look after your brushes 

Don’t leave them sitting in water and this can loosen the glue holding the bristles in the ferrule. To clean your brushes, use a brush cleaner and water. After cleaning, be sure to also dry your brushes with paper towel or cloth.


Use gesso

To help stiffen your canvas and prevent your acrylic paint from being absorbed into the canvas, use gesso. Gesso is applied before painting to help paint adhere to the surface and add a slight tooth to better hold the paint. 


Remember some acrylic colours can dry darker 

Some acrylic paints can actually dry a shade darker than they appear when wet. To determine what shade the final dried result will be, do a test patch on a canvas pad, panel or acrylic painting pad.


Work fast

Acrylic paint is naturally very fast drying, so it’s important to develop a habit of painting quickly.  Remember that once the paint is dry, it cannot be re-activated. 


Extend drying time with a retarder

You can also spray the paint with water to keep the paint moist on your palette. You can also use a palette wetting spray to prevent the paint from ‘skinning over’, or an acrylic paint retarder to delay the drying and keep your paints workable for longer, and improves colour blending.  



Use a colour wheel to help you mix colours

Understanding colour theory and how to mix colours is fundamental for any artist of any skill level. Using a Colour Dial makes learning about colours and colour mixing a breeze - simply select your colour, line it up with another and see the colours you can make.


Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remember to have fun! Art and creativity is all about experimenting and trying new techniques and styles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods, mediums, colours and supports to discover your own acrylic painting style. 


Don't forget to show us your acrylic painting creation by tagging us on Instagram @artshedonline for your chance to be featured!

Got questions? Send us an email at customerservice@artshedonline.com.au and our friendly team of artists will do their best to assist you. 

Happy creating!


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