Thursday, September 28, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting - Need to Know What Paint to Buy?

This article looks at buying acrylic paints. Often you need to choose whether you want Standard or Flow Formula paints. This article discusses their properties.

Do not worry about this too much, just buy what you have available locally. There are always acrylic mediums that can be added to make the paint thinner or thicker depending on what you want.

However if you have the choice this is what it means.


Beginners Acrylic Painting

Need to Know What Paint to Buy?

When you go in to buy acrylic paint it is easy to get confused. There is a huge range and knowing which paints to buy can be difficult.

Here are a few tips to make your choice a bit easier.

The key thing with acrylic paint is that it dries very quickly which can a blessing when you are ready to tidy away. Or a curse if you do not know how quickly it dries and it ruins your brush!

Acrylic paints generally come in tubes of either Standard Formula or Flow Formula. The Standard Formula is thicker and more suitable for oil painting techniques and using a painting knife. The thicker paint can be built up for impasto work where very thick layers of paint give a three dimensional result.

Flow Formula is a thinner paint and is more suitable for brush work and watercolor techniques. It takes a little longer to dry, than the Standard Formula.

However if you want a longer drying time you can add a retarder medium to the paint, and this slows down the drying time and allows the paint to be worked, this is handy for complicated areas.

Paint Smart!

Acrylic paints are water soluble but when it dries on your hand you will see that it looks like a thin layer of colored plastic. This means that once the paint is dry it is almost impossible to remove it from clothes or furnishings. I always paint on top of old newspaper.

Be sure to always replace the top back on the tube of paint. Otherwise the paint will dry in the tube; this is annoying and a waste of money! (If this happens you can cut off the bottom of the tube and get some paint out that way, but most of the tube will be dried out.)

Starter Packs

Acrylic paints often come in Starter Packs and these can be very good value. They are usually cheaper than buying the tubes individually.

When you are buying your first set of paints I would recommend buying a starter pack which will give you a range of colors at a good price. If you decide you would rather buy individual colors check out my other articles for tips on the best colors to buy.

Standard or Flow?

Given a choice I would buy Standard Formula ones. If you find you like to paint with a brush then you can add a little water to thin the paint for this purpose. However if you decide you like to paint in a thicker style you have the correct paint already.

But don't worry - with acrylic paints you can add a gel medium to Flow Formula to give it more body. Acrylics really are very versatile!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting - What Palette Do I Need?

What Palette is the Best Choice?

Have you gone into a store to buy some painting equipment and found that the range is huge?

“I’m just beginning with acrylic paints and I only want to buy something to put the paint on!”

Don't despair ;-) Here's the information you need to make the whole shopping trip easier.

The key thing with acrylic paint is that it dries very quickly which can a blessing when you are ready to tidy away. Or a curse if you don't know how quickly it dries and it ruins your brush!

When the paint dries it is impossible to remove it from clothing, surfaces and brushes. So cover yourself with 'painting clothes' and be sure to clean your brushes before the paint dries on them. Once you have the right equipment this isn’t a problem.

Acrylic Paint Palette

Beginners to acrylic painting should either buy or make a reservoir palette. This is a palette with a damp reservoir with a disposable paper on top of it. You mix the colors on the paper. This means that the paint on the paper remains damp and ready to use.

A 'store-bought' reservoir palette often has a separate section for brushes. Usually the brushes will be placed on their sides with the tips of the brushes in some water to stop the paint drying on the brush. There is a cover for the palette that keeps the moisture in and makes sure that the paint doesn't dry out. It’s all laid out in a nice tidy container.

If you feel that you don’t want to spend money on something when you’re just beginning with acrylic paints there is another choice.

Make your own

You can make up your own version of this using a flat dish or tray with a low edge. Place a few layers of blotting paper or a layer of capillary matting (often used in greenhouses to keep the plants damp) in the bottom for the reservoir.

Cover this reservoir with tracing or greaseproof paper. This paper is used as your palette. This is where you will place the paints when you're using them and mix them on top of this paper too.

Keep the reservoir moist - not too wet - and the paints will not dry out. It is important that in between painting sessions you cover your palette to keep the moisture in. A large plastic bag that is big enough to hold the whole palette is ideal.

The rest of your acrylic painting equipment

The rest of your acrylic painting equipment will be discussed in other Beginners Acrylic Painting articles. Happy painting!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I’m Ready to Paint – Where do I Start?

OK - you have paints, brushes, palette, a painting surface and some water but where do you start?

Every painter has their own process, but I like to start at the back of the picture and work forward. In other words I start by painting the background and things that are furthest away and then work forward from there.

I paint a lot of landscapes and seascapes and it makes sense to start at the farthest away area. Usually this means starting with the sky. Then the distant land areas, middle distance land, and finally the foreground area.

Painting in this order means that the areas that are closer can overlap the further away areas and this helps to ‘push them back’. This helps to give depth to the painting.

In the Acrylic Painting Course we look at all the ways to give depth to a painting, for example having the most detail in the foreground. However working ‘from the back’ is a good method that helps to achieve this too.

Or all at once?

Some painters prefer to work the entire picture at the same time. This helps them to get the balance between the different areas right as the painting progresses.

This ‘all at once’ method is used when painting the portrait in the Acrylic Painting Course. I think it is the best way of working when painting portraits, animal pictures and some still life scenes.

Learning to Paint

However when you are just learning to paint it can be a bit overwhelming to have to think about the whole of the picture. It is easier to just concentrate on the one area you are painting at the time.

Also with acrylic paints it is fairly easy to go back and add some extra color when you want to get the balance of a painting ‘just right’. In watercolors this would be more of a problem.

The best way is probably to try both methods and see which one you prefer!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beginners Guide on Acrylic Painting - Setting Up

How to Set Out Your Equipment for Easy Acrylic Painting

OK you have all the things you need to begin acrylic painting, right? You have acrylic paints, brushes, painting surface, palette, and a container of water. Well, by taking a minute to set out your acrylic painting materials in an organized manner you will enjoy your painting session even more.

Ideally when you begin acrylic painting you will have a work space that is level and in a good light. Artificial light can make the colors look different when compared to natural light. It is a good idea to get full spectrum light bulbs from an art store if you have to paint in artificial light. This is a worthwhile investment.

Lay out you palette, paints, brushes and water to the right hand side if you are right handed – or left if you are left handed. It is handy to have some paper towels too.

Acrylic Painting Tip

Try to get into the habit of placing the paints in the same position on the palette every time you paint. This will save you time – you wouldn’t be searching for a color if you always put it in the same position.

I like to group colors, for example, having all the blues together. It is most important to always put the white in the same place.

Tips on Placing Your Painting Materials

I position the palette next to me – I am right handed so it is to the right. Then the tubes of acrylic paint to the rear of the palette. I use a reservoir palette that has a space for the brushes, but if I didn’t I would have the reservoir for the brushes to the right of the palette.

I store the dry, clean brushes I’m not using in a jam jar – with the brush handle ends down so that the tips do not get bent out of shape. This is to the far right of all the other equipment.

I place the water container(s) to the rear of the painting area but within easy reach. The paper towel is there too.

Be sure to cover the work surface as any acrylic paint that dries on it will be difficult or impossible to remove.

And my Top Tip is to put any drink on the opposite side - away from the palette and paint. Otherwise you will end up cleaning your brush in your drink – and believe me it won’t add to the flavor!

For ideas of things to paint check out The Acrylic Painting Course. The beginners guide on acrylic painting with step-by-step painting instructions and a free preview to completing your first painting just click here

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pigment used in Blue Paint

I find it really interesting how the different paint colours are made.
Here are also some facts about how blue has been used throughout time.

Blue – The Calming Colour

Blue is the calming and soothing colour of intellect. It is regarded as the symbol of devotion to noble ideas. It is linked to spirituality, contemplation and trust.

The blue pigment in paints was originally made from crushed semi-precious stones and was very expensive. Poorer painters never included blue in their paintings. Blue was only included at the request of people who commissioned special artwork and who were willing to pay for it.

The Dutch merchants used this as a status symbol, owning a painting with expensive blues in it was truly a luxury item.

My favourite blue is Ultramarine Blue which is a warm brilliant deep blue. ‘Ultramarine’ comes from Medieval Latin for ‘beyond the sea’.

The pigment was originally obtained from the powdered semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. In 1824 an imitation of this pigment was made from powdered fired clay, sodium carbonate, sulphur and resin. This has nearly an identical chemical composition to the lapis lazuli.

Suddenly the most expensive artist colour became one of the least expensive and most widely available.

The Science Bit

The colour that an object appears is the result of the different light waves reflected by the object. An object absorbs some the light frequencies and reflects others. It is often said that our choice of colour will depend on our response to the various reflected light frequencies.

A Few Facts about Blue

Blue is the colour of the sky and the seas and it is often quoted as the most popular colour. Blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals.

It is a peaceful and tranquil colour for bedrooms. However it can also look cold and depressing – so it is important to get the balance right.

Blue can make a room appear larger.

Studies show that people are more productive in blue rooms.
Weightlifters were able to handle heavier weights in a blue gym.

Wearing blue to job interviews symbolizes loyalty – a good thing if you want the job! It is the colour of police uniforms. In ancient Rome public servants wore blue.

Blue was used a protection against witches who were said to dislike the colour. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore blue as a protection against evil.

Blue stands for love so brides carry something blue on their wedding day.

However blue is not an appetizing colour. Blue foods are rare in nature and food that is ‘off’ often appears to have a blue look to it. Faced with blue coloured food most people will lose their appetite! This might be handy to know when you're on a diet ;-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting

Need to Know What Painting Surface to Buy?

Starting a new hobby can be a bit daunting, don't you think? All the equipment to buy and no previous knowledge – how can I be sure that this is the right thing? Sometimes it's enough to put you off even starting!

You go into a store and the range is huge. Good grief, I only want to buy something to paint on!

Well, when you’re beginning with acrylic paints there are a few things you need to know before you get as far as the store. Also, once you have an idea of what you need to buy it will make the shopping trip a lot easier.

When you are just practicing painting techniques you can use any paper or cardboard you have to hand. Cardboard from packing materials is a good surface for starting. When you paint on cardboard you do not have the problem of the surface stretching when it is wet, this can be a problem with the thinner papers. So cardboard is great for beginners acrylic painting.

All kinds of cardboard are good and the inside of cereal boxes can be very handy too. Painting practice can make good use of your junk mail. You can paint on the thicker pieces of paper before you throw it out.

When you are ready to paint a picture I think the best surface for beginners (and still my favorite) is to use canvas panels. A canvas panel is a thick cardboard that has a painting surface glued to it. It comes ready to paint. You don’t need to do anything else but just start painting. Bliss!

If you paint on paper you will find that many papers need to be stretched before you can paint on them, otherwise the paper buckles while wet and the paint gathers in the hollows. This will give an uneven result to your final painting.

There are pads of pre-stretched paper. The pad has glued edges. The paper has already been stretched – you paint on the top paper and let it dry. Once the painting is finished and it is dry, then you use a knife to slice around the glued edge to release the top piece of paper. These pads are pretty good, but I still prefer the canvas board - it is just so much easier to use and convenient if you want to paint outdoors.

You can use stretched canvases too, although these can be a bit expensive when you are beginning with acrylic paints. You would be better spending the money on buying good quality nylon brushes.

Acrylic Painting Tip

No matter what surface you decide to paint on there is one important point. Acrylic paints will not stick to oily or waxy surfaces. Make sure that the surface you choose is suitable for acrylic paints. Some painting surfaces are made specifically for oil paints and are not suitable for use with acrylics.

Check the details on the painting surface wrapper or pack. It will usually tell you what paints (or ‘mediums’) the surface is suitable for. If you are in any doubt always ask if the painting surface is suitable for use with acrylic paints.

Just Starting to use Acrylic Paints?

Look out for other Beginners Acrylic Painting articles on buying the rest of your painting supplies – palette and brushes, and paints.

For the detailed step-by-step beginners guide on acrylic painting see the Acrylic Painting Course – with a free preview to completing your first painting click here