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: Setting up your Painting Space

Welcome to my series for beginners learning to paint, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught artist.  

Once you’ve got your paint, brushes, canvases and other supplies, you’ll need a place to set up.

While an easel is great for serious painters, it can take up a significant part of your budget, and you don’t really need one when you’re first starting out.  My recommended canvas size for beginners is something in the 9″x12″ to 16″x20″ range, and this size is manageable for working flat.   If you’re sitting at a desk or the kitchen table, try propping up one end of your canvas on some books (protected with a rag) to see if you prefer working at an angle.  If you do, you might want to invest in a table easel at some point.

Try to keep your most used supplies within easy reach, so you don’t set yourself up for back or shoulder pain.  This is my current setup in my garage where I paint:

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Getting Started: Your Supply List

Welcome to my advice series for beginners learning to paint, based on my own trial-and-error experience.  These are the basic supplies you’ll need when starting on a budget.  

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Paint

Buy small tubes of professional or “artist” grade paint in these colors:

  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cadmium yellow (or Primary yellow)
  • Cadmium or Naphthol red (or Primary red)
  • Carbon black
  • Titanium white
  • Consider adding Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Green and Zinc White if you can

Brushes

  • Large flat or filbert
  • Small round
  • Medium angular bright

Canvas

  • Buy 5-6 canvas panels (recommended size 9″x 12″ or larger) to start
  • Then buy back-stapled or gallery wrap canvas (not side stapled) when you’re ready

Other Supplies (buy or find at home)

  • Masking tape
  • Disposable palette paper
  • Old apron or button down shirt
  • Rags
  • Big water jar or bucket

You’re ready to paint! Leave any questions in the comments or send me a message.

Next: Setting up your Painting Space

Getting Started: Other Painting Supplies

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. Paints   2. Brushes   3. Painting Surfaces

4. Other Essential Supplies

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Most of your supply budget should be spent on good quality paint, brushes and canvas, in that order. You don’t need a lot of other stuff, but here are some essentials that you should have before you get started. (Again, I’m posting examples and pictures from dickblick.com, but I am not affiliated with them in any way.)

1) Water bucket

There are a lot of fancy artist’s water pails out there, but you really just need a big jar or tin.  Don’t use a coffee cup or drinking glass or you’ll end up drinking the paintwater when you’re not paying attention!  Change your water in your jar often and never let your brushes sit in the water.  This brings us to…

2) Rags and Apron

I like to have a dedicated painting apron (and sometimes an old button-up shirt as well) to cover my clothes.  Acrylic paint will permanently stain clothes if it dries on.  Again, it doesn’t have to be a special painting apron, but you should have something.  I also like to keep a few rags on hand (old t-shirts work well) to keep under my water bucket to absorb drips and provide a place to rest wet brushes or wipe off excess paint.

3) Palette or palette paper

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You’ll need a place to mix wet paint.  I personally never liked using the traditional hand-held wood or plastic palettes because they’re a pain to clean.  To save hassle and water, I recommend using disposable palette paper (or in a pinch, glossy magazines) when you’re starting out.  When you’re done painting you just peel off the top layer and throw it out.  Disposable palette paper is ideal when you’re just getting started, but see my recommendation #7 below when you’re getting more serious. Continue reading