Introduction - Essential Acrylic Painting Tips : How to Work with the Most Versatile Medium

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Curious about acrylics? Ever wonder how to work with them? Read the following acrylic painting tips before you get started to get the most out of this exciting medium.

  • Acrylic painting Tips #1: Keep your paints moist and your brushes in the water while painting.
    The most prominent characteristic of acrylic paint is its fast drying time. To save your paint and brushes, only squeeze a little at a time from the tubes or use a squirt bottle to spray the paints periodically.

    As for brushes, keep them wet by soaking them in water while not using them; it will keep them from being ruined. And yes, it is very easy to ruin acrylic brushes if you are not quick enough to clean them before the paint dries.

  • Acrylic Painting Tips #2: Thin acrylic paints with either water or acrylic medium.
    If you use heavy body acrylics, you can use some water to thin them down. However, using water to thin acrylics breaks down the binders in the paint, so if you use too much of it, the colors are less vibrant. That is why some painters like to use acrylic mediums to retain the rich and glossy look of the pigment.

    Some acrylic colors are very fluid and easy to move straight from the tube, so you will not need to use any water.

  • Acrylic Painting Tips #3: Use matting agents to reduce an unwanted glossy look with acrylic paint.
    Do you agree with the people who say that acrylic colors are too glossy? Think they “look plastic?” No worry. Just use matte mediums and matte varnishes to reduce the gloss of acrylic paint.

  • Acrylic Painting Tips #4: Acrylic is compatible with many other mediums.
    You can use acrylic underother mediums such as oil and oil pastels. Make sure your acrylic paint is dry before you cover it with oil paints, however. Oil Pastels can work as a resist with acrylics. Acrylic can also be used together with pen and ink or charcoal.

    You also can use watercolors and acrylics together. One of the two must be dry, however, or they will not bind together.

  • Acrylic Painting Tips #5: Understand how acrylic dries.

    Acrylic generally dries in two steps.

    The top layer of the paint skin dries with the evaporation of the water in the paint. The chemical setting up of the acrylic polymer takes longer: a few days to several weeks to cure fully. The time required depends on the layer's thickness and other environmental factors. Remember not to wrap an acrylic painting tightly or place it in a closed environment when it's drying, and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures.

  • Acrylic Painting Tips #6: Know the rules for painting over acrylics.
    When the paint is no longer fully wet, but it is not dry to the touch is potentially problematic. The paint gets difficult to move during this phase.

    During this “tacky” phase, if you continue to work over an area, you can create streaking or pulling as the paint sticks to the brush. When this happens, stop painting and work on an area that's dry. If it is necessary to work with the “tacky” paint, blow dry it first, and then restart painting.

  • Tip #7: Use acrylic as a glue in mixed media art works.
    The way acrylic can work like an adhesive is another interesting characteristic of this medium. It might not be important if you only use acrylics only for painted works. But with mixed media, this feature of acrylic is really ideal.

  • One last thing: Mix acrylic paints with a painting knife.
    With its fast drying time, it is best to mix acrylics with a knife instead of a brush. The exception, of course, is if you are experienced in handling the drying time and you paint quickly.

> > Basic Acrylics Painting Tips

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