Hello! My name is Romina and I am an artist. I have started painting with acrylic since the beginning of 2020 and I taught myself to paint. That year was particularly very moving for me not only because of the pandemic: I left my 13-year-old non-artistic 9-to-6 job and with my husband we moved to another continent to a country with another language and culture.
Determined to take advantage of the whole situation plus quarantine, that year I set a goal to learn to paint with acrylics.
I spent many years with the desire to learn this technique but I had put it off many times with a thousand excuses (I think it was the fear of not doing it well). However, I understood that part of the learning process is doing it wrong (which happens a lot at the beginning!), and experimenting because when you do things wrong, you learn.
I know that learning alone is difficult, that’s why I started this blog to easily share with you everything I’ve been learning over the years.
Therefore, in this first post I want to show you three basic notions to start painting with acrylics. I am also going to share several useful tips with you. So let’s not waste any more time and get started!
- A surface to paint. It can be thick paper or cardboard, for example, I normally use 250 or 300 g/m² Bristol paper. In the video demonstration I use white cardboard.
- 2 tubes of acrylic paint (in the colors you like best).
- A synthetic acrylic brush which can be size 6 – 8 – 10 (brush tips: they come in different shapes, the most common is round one. Choose the one you have or the one you like). The one I like best is Filbert Brush, in case you have to buy one.
- A palette, which can be disposable, a sheet of paper, a polypropylene, a plastic tray, a glass or a ceramic plate. I prefer using ….. (see my blog ….link).
- Two containers with water (I usually use jars).
- Absorbent kitchen paper or a rag (Bear in mind that once it is stained you will no longer be able to clean it so be careful with your clothes too!!).
Now let’s get some tips!
Tip #1: when you start learning how to paint, you don’t need to buy the best or most expensive paints. Student or Artistic quality acrylic are very good and affordable to begin with.
Tip #2: It is not necessary to buy the best brushes in the market – It is better to purchase medium quality brushes to start with, not very expensive but not very cheap either. You need one that does not lose its form after using it. Bear in mind that acrylic paint eventually ruins brushes over time. It’s not worth spending so much on brushes during the learning process.
In this post more info about how to take care of them so they will last longer.
Here goes three basic notions that will help you get started:
1- Consistency ot the paint
The consistency of the paint on the brush is key so that the brush strokes are as textured or precise as your work requires them to be.
Do these simple exercises to understand how it works. Put some paint on the palette. Load the brush with paint and make a straight stroke, until the brush is fully unloaded. You will notice that the paint is thick and you will quickly run out of paint leaving the brushstroke marked with irregular edges.
Now do the same, but this time add some water to the paint. Make a straight brush stroke again until you unload the brush. You will realize that the paint will last longer. This time the brush-stroke will feel light and flowing with sharp edges.
One of the properties of acrylic paint is that it is opaque. This means that when painting over a color (which must be completely dry) we can cover it completely. This varies by pigment and brand. There are some more opaque than others. Yellows are usually very transparent pigments.
Try doing the following exercise:
Paint a straight line with one of the colors you have chosen.
Wait for it to dry.
Now with the other color make a transversal brushstroke to the first one.
Wait for it to dry and with the first color make a brush stroke parallel to the first and pass over the second.
In each crossing of brushstrokes you will see clearly the opacity of your chosen colors.
One of the main characteristics of the acrylic, in addition to its opacity, is that it dries quickly. It can take a few seconds
depending on the weather, the amount of water that the paint has and the environment where you work in.
Let me tell you what blending is. Blending is the name of a technique in which two different colors mix by giving a smooth transition from one color to the next (it can be used to represent round and smooth objects, color changes on flat surfaces, etc.) So, taking into account how fast the acrylic dries, blending is a bit tricky to achieve. And it is one of the things that frustrates the most when we just start.
There are several ways to blend but here I am going to explain the easiest way to learn how to get familiar with the consistency, and the time it takes to dry. Try doing this exercise:
- Draw a rectangle.
- Paint the ends of the rectangle with two different colors, leaving an unpainted space in the middle. In my case I chose violet on the left side and Cyan on the right.
- Then on the palette mix a little of each color. This will be the center color of the transition and then, paint the space between the two other colors. This mixture resulted in Blue.
As you can notice, the blending does not have a smooth transition: Violet, Blue and Cyan can be easily differentiated. Now, I will explain how to get closer to a neat fusion. Let’s do the following:
- Separate the obtained blue color into two parts (the mixture between violet and cyan).
- Add a bit of the violet paint to one of the blue parts separated before.
- Paint with this new color the union between violet and blue so as to achieve the blending from one color to the other step by step.
- Repeat the same thing but adding a bit of cyan to the other blue mixture and paint on the other side of the rectangle.
This is the first of many post, so I hope to see you here again.
Comment on this post if you liked it or if you found it useful or if you had doubts or if you want me to write about a specific topic.
You can also share with me your practices on instagram with the hashtag #momilottapaint. I will be very happy to see your work.
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