After learning some watercolor painting techniques I did some reading about different painting mediums and techniques. I was attracted to acrylic for it’s versatility and similarity to watercolor. The Wiki page about acrylic paint was a fun read. I didn’t realize it has only used by artists since about 1963. The different painting mediums; watercolor, tempera, acrylic and oil, are similar in the pigment chemicals they use, but differ in the “solvent” they use to transfer the paint to the canvas. Acrylic paint contains pigments suspended in a acrylic polymer emulsion. It can be diluted with water to look like watercolors but it drys quickly and becomes water-resistant when dry. It can also resemble oil paint but can be used with other mediums like charcoal and pastels. Like me, artists were attracted to it’s versatility. I also could use my same paint brushes and paper to learn new acrylic techniques.
For the paint, I already had some craft paints I’d picked up at a craft store that I hadn’t even realized were acrylics. They are the Folk Art brand and are pretty easily available at craft stores or even big box stores (the big blue W comes to mind). They are pretty inexpensive (about $1 for a 2oz bottle) and are a good consistency. I’m sure there are much better paints out there, but I was on a budget and wanted to just practice for awhile before investing in expensive paints.
My brushes are from a variety of sources. I like having a good selection of natural and synthetic brushes of different shapes. Natural fibers are thicker and give a more textured brush stroke. Synthetic brushes are very soft and really versatile. Back when I first started painting with watercolors I picked up a few really nice brushes from my local craft store. I also picked up a cheap selection of small brushes in a big packet from a big box store. The different brush shapes make them usable for painting different textures and shapes. My nice brushes work really well for the majority of the work I do, but the cheap brushes are still really useful and disposable if I forget to rinse them out. On that note, acrylic paints dry really fast and brushes should be rinsed out quickly and not allowed to dry with paint on them. I just use hand soap and water to clean mine out and that works just fine.
For a palette I just picked up an inexpensive plastic palette for mixing paints. I only do small paintings for now so this works just fine. I know more professional artists use bowls and cups to mix paints and that’s probably better for larger projects. Since acrylics are next to impossible to wash off once they’re dry, the paint is starting to build up as a nice collage of color on my palette. Makes me feel like a real artist!
For paper I just used what I had from watercolor painting. I found this paper at a craft store and it’s also available online (as are most painting supplies, fyi). It’s nice and textured and was really fun to experiment with for watercolors. It’s thick and doesn’t wrinkle when using water washes. It works perfectly fine for acrylics, as well and I did a few of the paintings below on this paper. I experimented with canvas, though and really like it, too. I just bought inexpensive canvas that was preconditioned at a craft store. I’m not sure how one would hang it up on a wall if you wanted to; that will take some fiddling.
Anyway, below are some of first attempts at acrylic painting and a few techniques I learned. Enjoy! and Go paint!