Acrylic Painting Demo: Blending Colors on your Palette

This is a quick demonstration of my color blending method, for people who are learning to paint.  It seems pretty basic, but as a beginner I had a tendency to overmix my paint, resulting in flat colors. This method will give you a wide variety of closely related shades that will make the objects you paint look more luminous and three-dimensional.

To start, put dabs of paint on your palette a few centimeters apart.  Try to distribute the paint so that the colors you’ll be mixing will be close to each other, but don’t overthink it. Some artists use a circular arrangement of paint on the palette, I tend to just make a few groups of associated colors with some space in between.  For the demo, I’m just using two colors of acrylic paint; yellow and green.

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Begin by adding a little bit of water to your brush and pulling some color out of the side of the paint dab and onto the clean palette area next to it.  Spread the paint around a bit so that you have some room to work. Next, without washing off your brush, do the same to the adjacent color so you have a thin gradient of paint that changes from the first color to the second color.

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Getting started: Paint

Welcome!  I’m posting a series of tips for beginner artists, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught painter.  

1. Paint

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My primary medium is acrylic on canvas, which I recommend to all beginners since it’s a water-soluble medium (no solvents needed) and you can paint over your mistakes and start again on the same canvas whenever you want.  There are some arguments to be made for learning in watercolor, but I’ll be talking about acrylics only in this post.  My advice is to spend most of your budget on a small but careful selection of high-quality paints and brushes, rather than the large cheap beginner sets, and I’ll explain why. 

Student quality vs. Artist grade paints

When you go to the store to buy paint, you’ll see that there are two grades; student quality and professional or “artist” quality.  Some brands carry both.  The main difference, other than price, is that professional quality paints have a much higher pigment concentration, meaning more pigment and less filler.  With artist quality paints, your colors will be more vivid, mixing will be easier, and you won’t need to use as much paint.

When choosing paint, beginners tend to gravitate towards the large, budget “student” sets with a lot of colors.  However, you’ll develop more mixing skill and have better results if you just start with quality paint in a few basic colors.  These are Golden Professional Heavy Body acrylics, the brand I use, but in general just look for a type that doesn’t say “student”.

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