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Mount High How to paint Abstracts with Skye Taylor

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Mount High How to paint Abstracts with Skye Taylor

A lot of artists are afraid of using acrylics especially after they have worked a lot in oils or watercolors. But they can be an essential part of an artist's portfolio and here I will give you 11 tips to help you make the most of them.
You can use acrylic paints both like oil paints (taking into account drying time) and like watercolours by watering down the paint so they are hugely versatile. They just take a bit of getting used to. You can create realistic paintings and I personally think they are great for creating abstract art. You can be big and bold with your colours or you can be subtle and detailed.
Below are some of the things that I think are essential or just useful to know about acrylic paints:


  1. Firstly, although acrylic paint is water soluble when wet, once it is dry it is like plastic. Therefore you must make sure you wash your brushes or painting implements immediately after use and before the paint dries or else you may ruin your art tools, particularly brushes.
  2. If you are used to using oil paint and find that acrylic paint dries too quickly, then there are products out there that will stop the acrylics from drying so fast. Buy some good acrylic paint retarder and that will really help you if you want to use acrylics for wet into wet for example.
  3. You can get some really interesting effects by watering down the acrylic paint when you use it. Try using the paint as if you were painting a watercolour scene or use for abstract work like 'marbled' style paintings.
  4. Make use of the properties of acrylic paints by using layers of paint on top of each other once each layer has dried. The paint will not mix into each other and make a muddy mess as can sometimes happen with oils.
  5. Also make use of the fact that acrylic paint dries quickly by adding a heavy varnish to the painting. A good gloss varnish will really brighten up the colours and, unlike oils where you have to wait months for the paint to dry, you can varnish the painting almost immediately therefore protecting it from dirt and damage.
  6. Use acrylic paint as a base for your oil paintings - this means you can work on the much more quickly than having to wait for a layer of oil paint to dry. But note that you can't put acrylics on top of oils.
  7. Acrylics come in some really great colours including fluorescent green, orange, pink and yellow so experiment and have fun with them!
  8. You can also use acrylic paint to decorate clothes if you wish and the paint will not come out in the wash. Therefore do not spill acrylic paint on your clothes by mistake if you can help it. Always wear an apron or old clothes when painting. Any spillages should also be cleaned up before the paint has a chance to dry.
  9. If you can't get the top off a bottle of acrylic paint then wear rubber gloves and that should solve the problem.
  10. Keep any leftover paint and store it all in a plastic bottle so that you can use it in future for under-painting or creating some extra texture under a painting.
  11. There are any number of implements that you can use to apply acrylic. Go to your local hardware or DIY store and pick up some scrapers with different shapes and teeth to add texture. You can also use tools to scrape out parts of the paint once you have applied it.
So, acrylics are very flexible but it does take a while to get used to their properties. Keep trying different things out and practising different techniques and you will soon be enjoying painting with acrylics.
If you want more info on using acrylic paints then check out my step-by-step guide to creating an abstract painting with acrylic paint.

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