beginner acrylic painting
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Are you feeling inspired to unleash your creativity but unsure where to begin? Acrylic painting is the perfect medium for beginner artists looking to embark on their artistic journey.

Acrylic paints offer a versatile, beginner-friendly introduction to the world of painting. From their ease of use and quick drying time to their vibrant colors and affordability, acrylics provide an accessible and enjoyable experience for aspiring artists of all ages.

Key Takeaways

  • Acrylics are versatile paints suitable for various surfaces like canvas, paper, and wood.
  • They are beginner-friendly, easy to use, and clean up with soap and water.
  • Acrylic paints offer affordable options for those on a budget.
  • They can be combined with other media like pastels or watercolors.
  • Acrylics dry quickly, allowing for layering and texture creation.

Introduction to Acrylic Painting for Beginners

If you’re a beginner acrylic painting enthusiast, you’ve made an excellent choice. Acrylic paints offer a forgiving and versatile medium that’s perfect for those starting their acrylic painting journey. Unlike oils, acrylics dry quickly, making them easier to control and layer, ideal for acrylic painting basics.

Benefits of Acrylic Paint for Beginners

One of the significant advantages of acrylic painting for beginners is the ease of use. These paints can be applied straight from the tube or bottle, and cleaning up is a breeze. Additionally, they don’t emit strong odors or fumes, making them a healthier option compared to oil paints.

Versatility of Acrylics

Acrylic paints are incredibly versatile, allowing you to explore a wide range of surfaces beyond traditional canvas. You can start acrylic painting on paper, wood, ceramics, fabric, and even glass, unleashing your creativity in various mediums.

Affordability of Acrylic Painting Supplies

One of the most appealing aspects of beginner acrylic painting is the cost-effectiveness of the materials. Acrylic paints and supplies are generally more affordable than other mediums, making it accessible for those on a budget to explore their artistic talents.

Acrylic Paint CharacteristicBenefit for Beginners
Quick-dryingAllows for layering and easy corrections
Versatile surfacesCan be used on canvas, paper, wood, and more
Low odorHealthier option compared to oil paints
Cost-effectiveAffordable supplies for beginners

With their user-friendly nature, acrylic painting basics are an excellent starting point for unleashing your creativity and honing your skills as an artist.

Essential Acrylic Painting Supplies

As a beginner acrylic painter, having the right acrylic painting supplies can make a significant difference in your learning experience. The market offers a wide range of options, so it’s important to choose wisely and invest in quality materials that suit your needs.

Types of Acrylic Paints

When it comes to types of acrylic paint, you’ll find two main categories: Student Quality and Artist Quality. Top brands like Golden, Liquitex, Winsor-Newton, and Lascaux are known for their high-quality acrylic paints. Student Quality paints are more affordable and suitable for beginners, while Artist Quality paints offer better coverage, pigmentation, and overall quality, but at a higher price point.

It’s recommended to start with a basic set of around 10 colors, as these can be mixed to create a variety of other shades. Most brands offer dozens of different colors, so it’s advisable to mix colors on hand before purchasing new ones to save costs.

Paintbrushes for Beginners

Choosing the right acrylic painting brushes is crucial for achieving desired effects. For beginners, an inexpensive set with a variety of brush shapes, sizes, and materials is recommended. This allows you to experiment with different brush techniques and find your preferred styles.

acrylic painting brushes

Canvases and Surfaces

Canvas is the traditional surface for acrylic painting, but painting surfaces for acrylics can also include wood, paper, fabric, and more. Pre-stretched canvases often come pre-primed, but adding extra layers of gesso can improve the texture and “tooth” for better paint adhesion.

Additionally, acrylic painting sets from popular brands like Golden, Liquitex, and Winsor & Newton offer a convenient way for beginners to acquire essential supplies in one package. While these sets typically include Student Quality paint, it’s advisable to invest in Artist Quality paints as your skills progress to achieve better results.

Beginner Acrylic Painting Techniques

As a beginner in the world of acrylic painting, mastering various techniques can unlock a realm of creative possibilities. From blending and layering to dry brushing and impasto, each technique offers a unique approach to expressing your artistic vision. Whether you aim to create smooth, seamless transitions or bold, textured strokes, acrylic painting techniques empower you to explore new dimensions of your craft.

Blending and Layering

The art of blending and layering with acrylics allows you to achieve a harmonious fusion of colors or intentionally showcase distinct brushstrokes. This versatile acrylic painting technique enables you to create depth and dimension within your compositions, guiding the viewer’s eye through a captivating visual journey.

Dry Brushing

Unleash the power of texture with the dry brushing technique. By applying paint to a dry brush, you can create intricate patterns and add depth to your work, evoking a sense of movement and energy. This acrylic painting technique is particularly effective for capturing the rugged beauty of landscapes or imparting a sense of age to your subject matter.

Impasto Technique

For those who crave dimension and tactile appeal, the impasto technique is a must-try. By applying thick, textured layers of paint with a palette knife or brush, you can create captivating ridges, peaks, and valleys on your canvas. This acrylic painting technique not only adds depth but also imbues your artwork with a sense of movement and energy.


The glazing technique allows you to add depth and luminosity to your acrylic paintings by applying translucent layers of color over dried paint. By mixing your acrylic paint with a glazing medium, you can create stunning effects, from subtle shading to dramatic tonal shifts, breathing new life into your compositions.

Blending and LayeringCombining colors smoothly or showing distinct brushstrokesDepth, dimension, visual interest
Dry BrushingApplying paint to a dry brushTexture, patterns, aged appearance
ImpastoApplying thick, textured paint with a palette knife or brushDimension, movement, tactile appeal
GlazingAdding translucent layers of color over dried paintDepth, luminosity, tonal shifts

These fundamental acrylic painting techniques offer a versatile starting point for beginners, allowing you to experiment, explore, and develop your unique artistic voice. Embrace the journey, and let your creativity shine through each brushstroke.

Priming and Preparing Surfaces

Before you begin priming canvas for acrylics, it’s essential to understand the purpose and process of surface preparation. Priming a canvas creates a suitable painting surface by providing a tooth (texture) for the paint to adhere to and preventing the canvas from absorbing too much paint.

Applying Gesso to Canvas

The most common way to prime a canvas for applying gesso is by using an acrylic gesso. This is a thick, white paint-like substance that seals the canvas and provides a toothy surface for the paint to grip onto. Many pre-stretched canvases come pre-primed with a layer of gesso, but some artists prefer to add one or more additional layers to increase the texture and absorbency.

When applying gesso, use a wide, flat brush and apply it in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding the next. It’s important to let the gesso dry thoroughly, which can take at least 24 hours, before beginning to paint.

Creating an Underpainting

Another technique for preparing a surface for acrylic underpainting is to create an underpainting. This involves mixing acrylic paint into the gesso before applying it to the canvas. By adding color to the gesso, you can create a toned ground that serves as a base for your final painting, rather than starting with a stark white surface.

Underpaintings can range from simple tinted washes to more complex layers of color and value. They provide a foundation for the final painting and can influence the overall tone and atmosphere of the piece.

CanvasAcrylic gessoApply in thin, even coats; let dry thoroughly
Canvas panelsTriple-primed, 100% cottonE.g., Strathmore 300 Series
UnderpaintingGesso mixed with acrylic paintCreates a toned ground for the final painting

Proper surface preparation is crucial for ensuring the longevity and quality of your acrylic paintings. Taking the time to prime and prepare your canvas or surface will pay off in the long run, providing a solid foundation for your artistic endeavors.

Color Theory and Mixing for Beginners

As a beginner in acrylic painting, understanding color theory for beginners is crucial for creating harmonious and visually appealing compositions. The color wheel serves as an essential tool, illustrating the relationship between colors and guiding you through the art of mixing acrylic colors.

Understanding the Color Wheel

The color wheel is divided into three primary categories: primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), secondary colors (orange, green, and violet), and tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet). By mixing primary colors in equal proportions, you can create secondary colors, while tertiary colors are formed by combining a primary and an adjacent secondary color.

mixing acrylic colors

Even the primary colors have warm and cool variations, introducing a diverse array of hues from different paint companies. Understanding these nuances will enhance your ability to create rich and harmonious color combinations.

Mixing Acrylic Paint Colors

While you can start mixing acrylic colors from the primary hues, incorporating some pre-mixed colors can save time and effort. It’s recommended to create reference charts by mixing various colors, allowing you to easily select the desired shades when painting.

Complementary colors, which are opposite each other on the color wheel, play a crucial role in creating neutral tones like black, brown, and grey. For instance, combining Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna can produce a rich, deep black hue, ideal for shadows and depth.

Experiment with blending primary and secondary colors to explore the range of browns, greys, and shadow tones achievable through color mixing.

Opaque vs. Transparent Colors

When layering colors, it’s essential to consider their opacity or transparency. Opaque and transparent acrylics interact differently when applied in layers, allowing you to achieve various effects.

  • Opaque colors have a high pigment concentration, providing excellent coverage and vibrancy.
  • Transparent colors, on the other hand, have a lower pigment load, enabling the underlying layers to show through.

The Alla Prima or wet-on-wet approach involves blending colors directly on the canvas, allowing for expressive and spontaneous brushwork. By understanding these properties, you can create depth, texture, and harmonious color transitions in your acrylic paintings.

Color PropertiesDescription
HueThe pure color (red, blue, yellow, etc.)
ValueThe lightness or darkness of a color
SaturationThe intensity or vividness of a color

By mastering the art of color mixing and understanding the properties of opaque and transparent acrylics, you’ll unlock a world of creative possibilities in your acrylic painting journey.

Beginner Acrylic Painting Ideas and Subjects

As a budding artist, exploring easy acrylic painting ideas and beginner acrylic painting subjects is an excellent way to hone your skills and unleash your creativity. One delightful option is acrylic still life painting, where you can arrange a simple composition of fruits, vases, or household objects to capture their textures and shapes.

If you’re drawn to the beauty of nature, consider beginner acrylic painting subjects like landscapes or cityscapes. Start with a simple scene, such as a rolling meadow or a cozy town street, and let your brush bring it to life on the canvas.

The guide provides 27 easy, accessible paintings suitable for beginners, each accompanied by individual painting kits incorporating high-quality materials and tutorials.

For those seeking a more abstract approach, the guide suggests embracing easy acrylic painting ideas that allow for creative expression and flexibility. Geometric patterns, color block designs, or a single shape can be a liberating starting point, allowing you to focus on techniques like brushstroke alignment and creating textured backgrounds.

The guide also offers a diverse array of beginner acrylic painting subjects, ranging from the whimsical “Fireflies” and “Lovebirds at Dusk” to the celestial “Pine Tree Galaxy” and the tranquil “Seaside Escape.” With 75% of the tutorials focusing on summer themes, you’ll be inspired to capture the warmth and vibrancy of the season on your canvas.

Painting SubjectDescription
Starry NightRecreate the iconic swirling night sky
Water LiliesCapture the serene beauty of floating flowers
CheersPaint a celebratory toast with wine glasses
Le Chat NoirDepict the mysterious black cat

Regardless of your chosen beginner acrylic painting subjects, the guide emphasizes the importance of tutorial videos as valuable tools to learn and develop your skills. With step-by-step guidance, you’ll master techniques like blending values, creating an impressionist style, and more.

Composition and Design Principles

Creating visually appealing and balanced acrylic paintings requires thoughtful consideration of composition rules for painting. By understanding and applying design principles, you can elevate the impact of your artwork and guide the viewer’s eye in a harmonious manner.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental composition rule for painting that divides the canvas into nine equal sections using two horizontal and two vertical lines. Placing key elements along these gridlines creates a more dynamic and pleasing composition than centering the subject.

Negative Space

Using negative space in art effectively can enhance the overall composition and draw attention to the subject matter. Negative space refers to the areas around and between the primary elements in your painting. By thoughtfully incorporating negative space, you create visual breathing room and add depth, leading the viewer’s eye to the focal point.

Using Negative Space in Art

Focal Point

A strong focal point is essential for guiding the viewer’s eye and creating a sense of balance in your painting. This area of emphasis should be the primary subject or the area where you want the viewer’s attention to be drawn. Techniques like contrast, color, and placement can help establish a clear focal point.

Composition PrincipleDescriptionExample
Rule of ThirdsDivide the canvas into nine equal sections using gridlines, and place key elements along these lines.Position the horizon line or a prominent tree along one of the horizontal thirds.
Negative SpaceUtilize the areas around and between the primary elements to create visual breathing room and depth.Leave ample space around a central figure or still life arrangement to emphasize the subject.
Focal PointCreate an area of emphasis that draws the viewer’s eye and establishes a sense of balance.Use contrasting colors or values to make a specific element stand out as the primary focal point.

By incorporating these composition principles into your acrylic paintings, you can create a harmonious and visually engaging experience for the viewer, guiding their eye through the artwork and conveying your intended message or mood effectively.

Painting Subjects for Beginners

As a beginner in acrylic painting, choosing the right subject matter can make a significant difference in your learning experience. From capturing the beauty of nature to mastering the intricacies of portraiture, there are various subjects that offer unique challenges and opportunities for growth. By exploring these diverse subjects, you’ll develop essential techniques, hone your observational skills, and discover your artistic voice.

Still Life Painting

Still life painting is an excellent starting point for beginners in acrylic still life painting. By arranging a variety of objects, you can practice techniques like blending, brushwork, and capturing realistic textures and shapes. Whether it’s a simple bowl of fruit or a more intricate composition, still life subjects allow you to focus on mastering the fundamentals of color, value, and form.

Landscape Painting

Venture outdoors and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature with beginner landscape painting. Landscapes offer a wealth of inspiration, from rolling meadows and forests to shady lanes and breathtaking beaches. With this subject, you can explore different levels of detail, experiment with atmospheric perspective, and capture the ever-changing moods of the natural world.

Here are 51 easy acrylic painting ideas for beginners

, including instructions for painting a bouquet of peonies, cactus, different kinds of trees, and even a Christmas tree.

Portrait Painting

Embarking on portrait painting for beginners can be both challenging and rewarding. By capturing the likeness of a person, you’ll develop skills in proportions, lighting, and conveying expression. Start with a simple outline, blocking out the basic shapes, and gradually build up details. Consider gathering references from online sources, such as images of colorful tropical birds, to practice rendering intricate features.

As you explore these subjects, remember to embrace the learning process, experiment with different techniques, and find inspiration in the world around you. With dedication and practice, you’ll soon discover your artistic voice and create beautiful acrylic paintings that truly resonate with your vision.

Troubleshooting and Tips

As a beginner with acrylic painting techniques, you may encounter challenges along the way. Fear not! With a few troubleshooting tips, you can easily overcome obstacles and continue refining your skills.

Fixing Mistakes

One of the advantages of working with acrylics is the ability to fixing acrylic painting mistakes by simply painting over them. Since acrylic paint layers indefinitely on top of dried layers, you can correct any areas you’re unhappy with by applying new paint on top. If an area dries with an unwanted texture, you can even sand it down before re-painting.

Drying Time and Mediums

Acrylic paints are known for their quick acrylic drying time, with a moderately thin layer drying within minutes. However, the thicker the paint layer, the longer it will take to dry completely. If you need to extend the open time, you can use acrylic mediums to slow down the drying process, giving you more time to work with the paint.

Varnishing and Finishing

Once your acrylic painting is complete, you may want to consider varnishing acrylics to protect and enhance the final piece. Before varnishing, it’s recommended to apply an isolation coat to create a uniform surface for the varnish to adhere to evenly across both matte and glossy areas.

  • Matte varnish provides a non-reflective, flat finish.
  • Gloss varnish adds a shiny, reflective surface.
  • Satin varnish offers a semi-gloss, slightly shiny finish.

Inspiration and Practice

As your acrylic painting skills develop, exploring different acrylic painting styles can be an inspiring journey. From the bold brushstrokes of expressionism to the precise realism of still life paintings, each style offers a unique artistic voice waiting to be discovered.

Consistent practice and experimentation are key to developing an art style that resonates with your personal creative vision. Embrace the learning process and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Studying the techniques and masterpieces of other artists can fuel endless creativity and help you find your own artistic voice.

Exploring Different Styles

The beauty of acrylic painting lies in its versatility, allowing you to experiment with a wide range of styles. Here are a few popular approaches to consider:

  • Abstract: Unleash your creativity with bold colors, textures, and shapes that evoke emotion and interpretation.
  • Realism: Capture the intricate details of your subjects with precise brushwork and a keen eye for light and shadow.
  • Impressionism: Embrace the beauty of broken color and loose brushstrokes to capture the essence of a scene.
  • Expressionism: Channel your inner emotions and convey them through vibrant colors and energetic brushwork.

Finding Your Artistic Voice

As you immerse yourself in various acrylic painting styles, you’ll begin to discover the techniques and subject matter that resonate most with your creative spirit. Embrace this journey of self-discovery and allow your artistic voice to emerge naturally.

Remember, developing an art style is an ongoing process that evolves with time and practice. Celebrate your growth, embrace your uniqueness, and let your passion guide you towards a truly authentic and meaningful artistic expression.

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Picasso


Embarking on the acrylic painting journey as a beginner can be an immensely rewarding experience. With this comprehensive beginner acrylic painting guide, you’ve acquired the essential knowledge and techniques to start creating beautiful artworks. From understanding color theory and brushwork fundamentals to mastering layering, glazing, and composition principles, this guide has provided you with a solid foundation.

The beauty of learn acrylic painting for beginners lies in its accessibility and versatility. Acrylic paints are user-friendly, affordable, and offer a wide range of creative possibilities. Whether you aim to capture realistic still-life scenes, explore the depths of abstract expressionism, or delve into the world of portraiture, acrylics offer a forgiving medium that encourages experimentation and growth.

Remember, the most crucial aspect of your artistic journey is to embrace the process, have fun, and continually challenge yourself. Experiment with different techniques, explore new styles, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they are opportunities for learning and self-expression. As you progress, your unique artistic voice will emerge, and your acrylic paintings will become a reflection of your creativity and personal growth.


What are the benefits of using acrylic paint for beginners?

Acrylic paints are great for beginners because they are versatile, easy to use and clean up, have minimal odors, and are affordable compared to other paint types. They can be used on various surfaces beyond canvas and allow for layering and blending techniques.

What essential supplies do I need to start acrylic painting?

For beginners, you’ll need acrylic paints (student or artist grade), a variety of brush sizes and shapes, canvases or surfaces to paint on, a palette for mixing colors, and tools like a palette knife. Gesso primer is also recommended for preparing surfaces.

What are some basic acrylic painting techniques for beginners?

Key techniques include blending and layering colors, dry brushing for textured effects, impasto for thick dimensional paint application, and glazing for translucent colored layers. Learning these fundamentals will allow you to create various effects.

How do I prepare a canvas for acrylic painting?

Canvases should be primed with gesso before painting, though pre-stretched canvases often come pre-primed. Some artists add extra gesso layers for more texture. You can also create an underpainting by mixing acrylic into the gesso.

How do I understand and mix colors with acrylics?

Use a color wheel to learn color relationships and mix colors from primaries. Keep swatches of mixed colors for reference. Understand opaque (solid coverage) vs. transparent (translucent) paint properties for layering effects.

What are some good beginner subjects for acrylic painting?

Still life setups with objects like fruit or flowers, landscape scenes of nature or cityscapes, and portraits are all great options to start building skills in acrylics. Look for beginner tutorials focused on simple still life compositions.

How can I create a balanced, visually appealing composition?

Apply principles like the rule of thirds for placement, use of negative space around subjects, and establishing a clear focal point. These guidelines will help your artwork look purposefully composed.

How can I fix mistakes or finalize an acrylic painting?

Acrylic paint can be painted over when dry, or sanded to fix textures. Drying mediums extend the open time. Apply an isolation coat before varnishing to protect the surface and allow varnish to adhere evenly.

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