Acrylic paint is the most used medium at AAH, being rather versatile and easy for the kiddos to handle. Besides using it to do regular paintings, I often like to introduce different mediums/pastes and techniques to my students. Some of my favourites are mixing acrylic paints with impasto gel, and making acrylic skins.
Acrylic paint is extremely fast-drying and is water soluble out of the tube but become water resistant when dry. It works on many surfaces, from clay to paper, even plastic if you prime it first.
Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water or modified with acrylic gels/medium/pastes, you can achieve paintings that resemble watercolour or oil paintings. Of course, acrylic paint also has its own unique characteristics unachievable by other mediums.
There is a wide variety of acrylic paints, you can read about them here and here. We’re using Daler Rowney Graduate Acrylic paints (student grade). The colours are vibrate, but I can’t say I’m extremely satisfied with the opacity with some of the colours. They are great for a glazing effect though!
We use synthetic brushes a lot more than natural brushes. Firstly, they are cheaper. Secondly, they are easy for beginners to handle. My students will receive a set of Daler Rowney Taklon 4pc Set when they sign up with us. These 4 brushes are good for almost all purpose, we only bring along “special” brushes occasionally:
Large & Small Flat Brush: The larger ones are used to quickly fill up big areas, the smaller ones used around the edges for fine lines, straight edges and stripes.
Small Round Brush: This is the least used in the set. Round brushes are good for outlining, detailed work and filling in small areas.
Detail Round Brush: As the name states, it is used for details work. Also often used for outlining.
Bristle Brush: For creating texture. We often use it to stamp on bushes or clumps of leaves. I got a set of 4 from Daiso, they are very stiff and serves extremely well for this purpose.
Choose your paper weight depending on the kind of techniques and effect you’re using. I would not recommend using printing paper as it tend to crinkle. Regular drawing papers are usually 80gsm and above.
The great thing about acrylic paint is that there are many paint mediums and tools that you can play around with to give you various effects. Here are a few of my favourite extra supplies and tools.
Palettes: It’s a hassle to clean acrylic paints off palettes. I used to wait for the paints to dry out before peeling them off. But in the recent years I’ve started to wrap my palettes in cling film or plastic sheets which can be disposed off immediately after use. They are also cheaper than the paper disposable palettes you find at art supply stores.
Washi/Painter’s Tape/Masking Fluid: Used for masking out areas you don’t want to paint!
Extra Water: Don’t you hate it when you need to dilute your paints and your muddy paint water dull the paint? I always have an extra cup of water by the side for this purpose – one for rinsing brushes, the other to use with paints.
Paper Towels: It is extremely important to dry your brushes after rinsing them, unless you’re going for the watercolor effect.
Modelling Paste: Increase the thickness and rigidity of acrylic paints, but it will change the colour of the paints as it is white. You can also apply it onto your painting surface and let it dry before painting on it.
Flow Enhancer (not pictured): Flow enhancers help keep paints workable for a longer time without diluting them like water does.
I hope this post helps to make acrylic painting less daunting to you! Have fun! xx Teacher Cherlyn