Acrylic Painting Tips

  • Keeping Acrylic Paints Workable: Because acrylics dry so fast, squeeze only a little paint out of a tube. If you’re using a ‘normal’ plastic palette invest in a spray bottle so you can spray a fine mist over the paint regularly to keep it moist. ‘Stay-wet’ palettes – where the paint sits on a sheet of wax paper place on top of a damp piece of watercolour paper. This eliminates the need for a spray.

acrylic paint

  • 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 on it after you rinse them. This prevents water drops running down the ferrule and onto your painting, making blotches.
  • Opaque or Transparent: If applied thickly – either straight from the tube or with very little water added – or if mixed with a little white, all acrylic colours can be opaque. If diluted with lots of water, or extender, they can be used like watercolour paint and to create similar effects.
  • Acrylic ‘Watercolour’ Washes: When an acrylic wash dries, it’s permanent. Unlike a watercolour wash, acrylic insoluble and 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 blue will create green.


  • Think Thin When painting Glazes: If you want transparent glazes, these should be built up in thin layers. A heavy layer will produce a glossy surface. Do not add white as this will make the glaze opaque. Acrylic glaze medium can help to create a more transparent effect.
  • Improve Flow Without Losing Colour: Acrylic colours 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 water.
  • Blending Acrylic Paints: Because acrylics dry rapidly, you need to work fast if you wish to blend colours. If you’re working on paper, dampening the paper will increase your working time.
  • Hard Edges: Masking tape can be put onto and removed from dried acrylic paint without damaging an existing layer. This makes it easy to produce a hard or sharp edge. Make sure the edges of the tape are stuck down firmly and don’t paint too thickly on the edges, otherwise you won’t get a clean line when you lift it. Paint along the edge of the tape and not up to it as this may drive paint underneath the tape.
  • Washing-up Liquid with Masking Fluid: Masking fluid can be used on acrylic paintings just as you do with watercolour. Once masking fluid has dried in a brush, it’s nearly impossible to remove. Dipping a brush into some washing-up liquid before using the masking fluid makes it easier to wash masking fluid out of a brush.
  • Using Acrylic Paint as a Glue for Collage: Provided it’s 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’. It will dry to strong, clear and flexible finish. This is a great idea if you wish to create multi-media paintings.

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Acrylic Painting Tips

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