Acrylic paint is such a flexible medium. Learn how to push the boundaries of this wonderful medium

Acrylic Painting Tips

  • How to keep acrylic paint workable: Acrylics dry fast. Therefore, only squeeze a little paint out of a tube at a time. If you’re using a ‘normal’ plastic palette invest in a spray bottle. Spray a fine mist over the paint regularly to keep it moist. ‘Stay-wet’ palettes – where paint sits on a sheet of wax paper placed on top of damp paper also works well.
  • Blot your Brushes: Keep a piece of paper towel or cloth next to your water jar and get into the habit of wiping your brushes after you rinse them. This prevents water drops running down the ferrule of the brush and onto your painting, making blotches.
  • Opaque or Transparent: If acrylic paint is applied thickly, or if mixed with a little white, most acrylic colours will appear opaque. However, if diluted with lots of water, or extender, Acrylic paint can be used like watercolour paint and create similar effects.
  • Acrylic ‘Watercolour’ Washes: When an acrylic wash dries, it’s permanent and, unlike a watercolour wash, is insoluble. It can be over-painted without fear of disturbing the existing wash. The colours of subsequent washes mix optically with the earlier ones. Therefore, a yellow wash over a blue wash will create green.
  • Think THIN when painting glazes. If you want transparent glazes, these should be built up in thin layers. Do not add white as this will make the glaze opaque. Acrylic glaze medium can help create a more transparent effect.
acrylic painting Paul Priestley
acrylic abstract painting
  • Acrylic colours can loose their colour strength the more you dilute with water. To increase the flow of a colour with minimal loss of colour strength, use a flow-improver medium rather than just water.
  • Hard Edges: Masking tape can be applied to and removed from dry acrylic paint without damaging paint surface. This makes it easy to produce a hard or sharp edge. Make sure the edges of the tape are stuck down firmly. Don’t paint too thickly on the edges, because you won’t get a clean line when you lift it. Paint along the edge of the tape. Do not up to it as this may drive paint underneath the tape.
  • Masking fluid can be used on acrylic paintings just as you do with watercolour. Once masking fluid has dried on a brush, it’s nearly impossible to remove. Dipping a brush into washing-up liquid before using the masking fluid makes it easy to wash masking fluid off a brush.
  • Provided paint is used fairly thickly and the item to be stuck isn’t too heavy, acrylic paint will work as a glue in a collage. Acrylic glaze medium is a much stronger ‘glue’ and will dry to a strong, clear and flexible finish. This is a great idea if you wish to create multi-media paintings.
  • Want to learn to paint a landscape in acrylic? Check out my art tutorial, Paint a Landscape in Acrylic – Part 1