Acrylic painting
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Acrylic Painting. Materials. Paints. Acrylics come in jars, tubes, and bottles depending on how much the artist needs and how they are applying their paint. Some acrylics are thinned down to be used in airbrushing techniques, while others have a thick consistency similar to oil paints.

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Acrylic painting

Acrylic Painting



Acrylics come in jars, tubes, and bottles depending on how much the artist needs and how they are applying their paint.

Some acrylics are thinned down to be used in airbrushing techniques, while others have a thick consistency similar to oil paints.

Acrylics come in artist series, as well as student series, the difference is the materials used to create a stable medium. In the common classroom you will usually find the student quality as it is more cost-effective.


Proper care of paints requires that the containers are completely sealed after use, as the acrylics will harden into a thick plastic, which cannot be reversed.

When using tubes of acrylic, make sure to squeeze from the bottom so that no air can get into the tube.

Be careful with the threads on the lids of your containers, as acrylics take on the same qualitiesofglue when they harden. If paint gets onto the lid or rim of the container, wipe it off with a wet paper towel to prevent the container from being sealed shut.


A variety of brushes can be used to create different effects with acrylics.

Bristle brushes are stiff and will show brush strokes, while sable or synthetic brushes can give a smooth quality to the surface of the painting.

There are different shapes to a brush that can help an artist achieve a specific visual quality to their painting.


Round – the hairs of the brush are different lengths, and are gathered in a rounded fashion to give movement to the brush. Some round brushes come to a point, making them very versatile and useful for a variety of techniques. They can produce fine lines, washes, and textures.

Flat – the length of the hairs are the same, making the end of the brush straight, and the bristles are flattened to give more surface to work with (good for washes and sharp edges)


Fan – like in the name, the hairs are fanned out. This brush is useful for blending colours and various dry-brushing techniques.

Filbert – a combination of flat and round, these are useful for a variety of techniques


Proper care of brushes requires that the artist never allows acrylic paint to dry on them. The paint will turn into a plastic that cannot be removed once hardened.

To prevent this, while the artist is working on a painting, store any used paintbrushes in a container with luke-warm water.

To clean the brushes, take them to a sink, add a small amount of dish soap and work into a lather in the palm of your hand. Don’t use hot water, as it will harden the paint faster. Also, be sure to get the paint at the base of the hairs to help the brush maintain its shape.

Dry brushes in an upright position, being sure to reshape the hairs into their natural position.

Palette knives
Palette Knives

Palette knives are useful for mixing paints on palettes, as well as creating interesting textures and application techniques on a painting. They can be used for sgrafitto effects or carving hard lines into paintings, as well as impasto or highly textured surfaces. Some artists work strictly with just palette knives to apply thick pastes and paints to their composition.

Proper care of knives requires similar treatment as brushes, but if paint dries on them, it can just be peeled off afterwards.

Other tools
Other tools

Combs can be used to apply surface designs or sgrafitto.

Sponges are useful for blotting effects as well as wiping away excess paint.

Tapes are helpful in creating sharp edges as well as masking off areas that no longer need paint.

Airbrushes can be used with specific solutions of acrylics to create a variety of marks and finishes. It is especially useful in blending and soft edges.


Supports are the surfaces on which the paint is applied. Depending on the characteristics of the paint and desired texture, it is up to the artist to decide which surface is appropriate to paint on.

Canvas is a traditional support and comes in a variety of makes and sizes. It is usually wrapped around a wooden frame, but also comes in single sheets or on flat boards. It is made from either cotton or linen, and the weave varies depending on the strength or smoothness required. Some artists buy their canvas by the roll and stretch it over their own frame, or it can be purchased pre-made to a specific size. Often the canvas is already primed with gesso so that the surface can accept paint.


Masonite is a type of hardboard used for a variety of purposes. It produces a stable smooth surface to apply acrylic paint to.

There are many kinds of hardboards to choose from, so it is up to the artist’s preference as to which type they use. Some hardboards have very rough textures, while others can be sanded down to a smooth finish.


Mediums are solutions used to manipulate the characteristics and body of acrylic paints.

Polymer glazes help to thin acrylics so that they can be applied in washes or glazes.

Gels are useful in giving acrylics more body so that thick applications of paint maintain their shape. The paint can also be carved into while wet to achieve interesting textures.

Pumices give acrylics a rough surface similar to sand, which can give a composition more texture.

Retarders are solutions that can be added to extend the drying time of acrylics, allowing the artist to manipulate the paint and blending for a longer period of time.


Palettes are the surfaces on which the paint is initially placed for mixing.

The traditional palette is made from sealed wood that has a thumb hole for efficient handling. Another surface that is popular for acrylics is glass or Plexiglas because the paint can be peeled off after drying.

Other surfaces that are sometime more practical in school classrooms are wax paper sheets or the lids to ice cream pails.


Easels are the stands on which a support can be placed while the artist is painting. They come in a variety of sizes and some have attachments and accessories to provide room for the artist to store and place supplies and painting materials. It is a common practice to draw and paint on a support that is in an upright position in order to avoid distortion or drips from paint.