easy acrylic painting ideas

Easy Acrylic Painting Ideas: for Beginners

In this tutorial, find 8 different easy acrylic painting ideas perfect for beginners. With acrylic paint, you can achieve a huge variety of effects in a range of styles. Acrylic paint is a versatile medium, as artists can change the way the paint behaves depending on the supplies and techniques they choose.

Find ideas for landscapes, portraits, seascapes, floral paintings, pour paintings and more in these step-by-step guides.

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Easy acrylic painting ideas: landscape tutorials

Step by step landscape easy acrylic painting for beginners

Get an introduction to acrylic painting with this full tutorial. It gives a great overview on how to use layers to create depth and the illusion of detail. Work quickly as paint will dry within around 30 minutes unless you use Golden Open Acrylic paint. For this tutorial you can thin your acrylic paint with water for the first layers, then paint with thicker paint in the top layers.

You can be quite gestural and expressive with brush strokes, but achieve realism with accurate colour mixing. This artist uses wide flat brushes and omits detail in the first layers then adds detail in the final stages with smaller brushes. Use a fan brush to create texture and the appearance of multiple blades of grass.

The mountains furthest from view in the painting appear blue and blend in with the colour of the sky at the highest point. Bright, saturated details appear closer. Use these principles to create depth and perspective in the artwork.

Easy acrylic painting ideas: landscapes for beginner to intermediate level painters

This acrylic painting tutorial may take some more time and patience as there are more layers and details. Get soft body acrylic paint, which is better for blending and detailing. Soft yet springy round brushes would work perfectly for the detailed areas of this painting. You can start by thinning paint with water and using a wide, flat brush to cover the sky area. Then block in basic shapes before applying details at the end.

Easy landscape painting ideas: courses for beginners

In this Skillshare course by Gerald Ashcroft, learn to create textured landscape paintings with just three primary colours and a palette knife. It’s a different and incredibly fun approach to painting. Learn how to create a composition and paint distant hills. Also learn to mix colour to create vibrant combinations.

Night sky acrylic painting tutorials

Night sky silhouette painting: step by step

If you’re looking for easy acrylic painting ideas, a night sky scene requires few colours and techniques to create. The effects are both striking and magical and can be recreated in only a few steps. Once you break the process down, it’s pretty straightforward. First, mix colours for your night sky, then blend them on the canvas. Add some glazing medium to the paint mix to stop it from drying quickly. Wait for the blended sky gradient to dry, then flick white paint onto the canvas to get varied star sizes. This splatter brush by Liquitex is the perfect tool for the paint splatter technique. Once the starry layer is dry, optionally paint silhouetted details on top.

Night sky with clouds tutorial

Rendering clouds is a little more complex with acrylic. Start by painting the background. Prussian blue is wonderfully deep and perfect for painting night sky. Colours are lighter towards the horizon, so mix in a light toned blue like cerulean. Flick paint onto the dry sky gradient—you could use a Liquitex splatter brush for this technique. Mix blue toned whites for the clouds. Filbert brushes are brilliant for creating blended edges. Deep blue colours can be neutralised to make grey with Burnt Umber.

Abstract acrylic painting ideas

Painting in an abstract style is immediate and fun. Grab some palette knives and heavy body paint and watch the artwork come alive with texture and colour. Some other great supplies that you can get creative with in creating abstract artworks are Catalyst Wedges. They come in a range of shapes to scrape paint across the surface with. Thicken paint even further by adding modelling paste to the mix to create sculptural looking works that pop out from the surface.

Use other mark making techniques to create a variety of effects. Get a splatter brush and flick paint onto the surface, or get a sponge and dab it on. For some more tips on how to take abstract art to the next level, check out our abstract painting tutorial. The tutorial is aimed at oil painters but all the techniques apply to acrylic painting too.

For a comprehensive, step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own awesome abstract gold leaf acrylic painting, try this course by George-Daniel Tudorache. Layer beautiful turquoise blues spontaneously onto the canvas and learn how to gild with gold leaf.

Easy acrylic pour painting

Acrylic pour painting is a wonderfully easy and satisfying technique. It’s perhaps the easiest acrylic painting technique to try, but you will need a few extra supplies. Make sure to get Fluid Acrylic paint, and mix with acrylic pouring medium. Read on the pouring medium product page or package the ratio of paint to medium to mix. With the Schmincke pouring medium you can mix up to 45% acrylic colour. This set of cups, strainers and gloves will get you set up with all you need to create a range of effects.

For a more comprehensive course on how to create beautiful acrylic pour paintings, check out this one by Poppy Koning. She shows you a perfect acrylic pour recipe, how to mix paint and how to add silicone to create cell effects.

Small acrylic painting ideas

By working on smaller paintings, you can improve your skills rapidly. As you can finish paintings more quickly and therefore paint a greater range of subjects and explore different acrylic painting techniques. Plus, smaller supplies are cheaper. Get Gessobord in a small size—these are great as they’re inexpensive and lightweight. Get some small brushes and you could also prop the painting up on a tabletop easel.

Mix a range of greens to create a tiny flower painting. Pure bright green can be mixed with lemon yellow and phthalo blue. To neutralise the colour, mix in some magenta and burnt umber. You could also get some premixed green tubes, such as sap green. For the yellow colour in the centre of the daisy flower head, use cadmium yellow. To make the petals and grass look textured, use heavy body acrylic paint.

By creating small sketches, it takes some of the pressure off of painting a perfectly polished piece. If you create lots of small paintings, you could frame and hang them in a gallery wall arrangement.

Acrylic flower painting tutorial

Create a rose painting with spontaneous, loose brushstrokes. You don’t need too many materials or colours for these two tutorials. Get a flat brush, some jars for water and red, blue, yellow, burnt umber and white colours.

Use a flat brush with sweeping strokes to create an organic looking effect. Practice painting from your own reference photos too. Flowers make a great subject because you usually don’t have to go far to find them—get out to your garden or to a park. If you’re a beginner you don’t have to worry too much about translating every detail. Simplify the composition of your artwork by omitting detail for an aesthetically pleasing effect.

Take a flower painting class on Skillshare. This class shows you how to mix floral colours, how to create a drawing from a reference photo and walks you through, step-by-step how to create a beautiful painting of a rose.

Easy acrylic painting ideas: paint a seascape

Painting the ocean is relaxing and rewarding. Creating a loose, painterly style ocean painting is easy once broken down into steps. You’ll need a few different colours of either soft body or heavy body paint. Phthalo blue and lemon yellow mix to make brilliant turquoise blues. Ultramarine, cobalt or cerulean mixed with titanium white make beautiful deep blue sky colours. Mix some yellow ochre with white and burnt umber for the sand.

Learn to create a realistic ocean painting in this Skillshare class by Yvette Lab. In the class discover how to mix acrylic paint, layer, blend and add details.

Acrylic portrait painting ideas

Portraits are perhaps the trickiest subject matter to capture accurately. Muted colour palettes work well for rendering skin tones. Earth colours like burnt umber and yellow ochre can be be mixed to convey subtle colour and tonal transitions. Other colours that work well for skin tones include vermilion red and ivory black. Notice in the colours of skin tone too, that the brightest highlights are hardly ever pure white. In this example, the whites of the eyes appear a mid-tone grey.

Create a drawing on canvas before you start to accurately place where they different facial features will go. If you haven’t had much practice drawing, use the grid method to transfer details from your reference photo (or sketch) to canvas. Soft body acrylic paint and soft round acrylic brushes go hand in hand with portrait art. If you want to extend the open working time and blendability of the paint, get a glazing medium.

One of the most difficult concepts for beginner painters to grasp, especially when painting portraits, is how to mix colour. This Skillshare Class will show you how to mix secondary and tertiary colours from the primaries. Also, learn how to mix highlights and shades. Learn about each colour and how they combine to create harmonious mixes.

Supplies recommendations for acrylic painting

Acrylic paint

Choose paint depending on your budget and desired effects. Heavy body acrylic paint is thick in consistency, choose this if you want to achieve texture in your paintings. Thick brushstrokes will be retained on the canvas. Soft body paint is runnier in consistency, meaning that it’s better for painting in detail and thin layers. Open acrylic paint has a slow drying time, it can remain wet on the canvas and palette for around a day. This makes it suitable for blending techniques and painting on wet layers. If you’re on a budget, or are new to acrylic painting, the Winsor and Newton Galeria range provides good quality for the price point.

Acrylic brushes

Synthetic brushes work best with acrylic paint. Use brushes with soft, flexible bristles like Isabey Isacryl with soft body paint for detail work. If you want to create more textured paintings with heavy body acrylic paint, get synthetic brushes with stiffer bristles like the Catalyst Polytip Brushes by Princeton.

Palettes

You can use cheaper plastic palettes for acrylic paint, but there are two options which may be interesting to artists who are looking for solutions that are easy to clean and keep colours wet on the palette for longer. A stay wet palette is sealable and has an absorbent foam insert that you can wet with a little water to keep colours from drying. Glass palettes are also a great option as they are easy to clean. Simply scrape dry paint away with a razor scraper, or wipe wet paint with a paper towel. Get some palette knives for mixing, or for spreading paint on the canvas. You can use brushes to mix paint, but if you get palette knives it keeps brushes clean for painting.

Acrylic surfaces

Canvas, wooden panel and paper all work wonderfully with acrylic paint. If you’re new to acrylic painting and want to experiment without worrying about making mistakes, paint on acrylic paper as it’s the cheapest option. Gessobord is a type of smooth primed wooden panel which is also inexpensive and great for taking outdoors to paint. Smooth primed wooden panel is a little more expensive, but is archival quality and the best option for painting in fine detail due to its texture and rigidity. Cotton canvas is lightweight and budget friendly. Linen canvas is more rigid and less likely to warp, but also more expensive. Linen is the best option for working on a large scale.

Acrylic mediums

Acrylic paint mediums are optional but with them, you can change the consistency of paint. Get some modelling paste to make it thicker to build texture on the canvas. Or get some glazing medium to make paint runny and dry slower for blending and painting fine details.

Acrylic cleaning supplies

Jars for water: get two jars—one jar to remove the bulk of paint and the other to clean the excess. Then have some paper towels to hand, as the friction from wiping will remove the pigment and binder.

Brush soap: this is totally optional, but by conditioning brushes you can preserve them and make them last longer.

Acrylic painting: Further your skills

If you’re looking to improve at acrylic painting, take a look at our other acrylic painting tutorials. It may be helpful to start with our beginner’s guide to acrylic painting if you’re not familiar with the medium, or you’re not sure how to get started. Colour mixing is the most challenging aspect of learning to paint. Get an overview on colour theory to understand more about how pigments interact with one another and how they can be combined to create realistic colour mixes.

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