Acrylic Painting Techniques and Tips

I often get questions about acrylic painting and thought I'd put the questions and answers in one place.

 If you have a question about painting with acrylics that isn't addressed here, hop on over to the Art Colony and ask your acrylic painting question in the forum, where you will receive tips and suggestions from your fellow artists.

If you want friendly feedback about one of your acrylic paintings, please post in our Critique Corner.  

What Other Visitors Have Asked About Acrylics

Click below to see acrylic painting questions from other visitors to this page... and read the answers!

Varnish brush for varnishing large acrylic paintings 
Reader Question: Hi, I am about to varnish a 36" x 48" painting. Is there a larger brush size you would recommend and if so, which brand or does that …

How to cover up pencil and charcoal marks 
Reader Question: I used a combination of charcoal and pencil marks on a hard canvas board that I had coated with a couple coats of gesso. I want to use …

How to prepare acrylic paint for dripping technique 
Reader Question: How do I create the right consistency for dripping acrylic paint? Do I use an acrylic medium or just water? If you want to do …

Difficulties reproducing the same colour with acrylics 
Reader Question: I just got started in acrylic painting. I just retired from years of work and began painting in canvas using acrylic. My problems are: …

How long to wait between applying colors on canvas 
Reader Question: How long should I wait in between colors on a canvas? Should the first color completely dry before I add the second? The length …

How to prevent acrylics from lifting 
Reader Question: Hi there, I'm trying to paint a realistic sky on gessoed masonite. Here's what I do: I lightly brush on an ultra thin layer of water …

Making translucent paints more opaque 
Reader Question: I see you use bright colors on most of your work and I am trying to learn through practice with your inspiration, but have run into …

How to remove acrylic stains 
Reader Question: Hi there, can you tell me what liquid can remove acrylic stains? Hi Gem Lim, The key to removing acrylic stains depends on …

How to stop acrylic paint from drying too fast 
Reader Question: How do I stop the acrylic paint from drying out too fast when painting outside? Hi Estelle, Great question! When you're …

Choosing a brand of acrylic paints 
Reader Question: Are Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics good for a beginner or should I go for artist quality paints of some other brands like Galeria, Golden …

Acrylic Painting Supplies for Beginners 
Reader Question: This is the first time I am going to try my hands with acrylic painting. Can let me know what kind of surface that we use to paint - …

Using acrylic gesso on different supports such as linen, wood and metal 
Reader Question: Can acrylic gesso be reliably used on linen as well as cotton? How about metals or boards (and which)? Hi Miles! Yes, Linen …

Which surface for acrylics offers the best longevity?

Which support or surface should I use if I want my acrylic painting to last as long as possible?

Mixing student quality paint with professional quality paint 
Reader Question: Can you mix different brands of student quality paint? Also, will it cause problems for me if I mix student quality paint with professional …

What type of varnish should I use to finish acrylic on canvas? 
Reader Question: Is there a particular varnish to use for acrylic on canvas? There are several different types of varnish you can choose from …

How many layers of gesso should I apply on art board? 
Reader Question: How many times do you apply the gesso and then lightly sand it? The number of times that you'll need to apply gesso and then …

How to create aged and cracked backgrounds 
Reader Question: Hi, I recently saw this amazing painting of an orchid in an art gallery at my hometown. It was done in acrylic and the background …

Painting a mural with acrylics 
Reader Question: I am a student in need of some information about murals, or examples of them. I also wanted to know what type of paint to use for one. …

Spray sealant for painting? 
Instead of painting on varnish with a brush, will a spray sealant work the same way? A spray varnish, such as Golden Archival Spray Varnish …

How to make things look round and real 
Hi! I love looking at your photorealistic paintings and in my beginning painting class we are doing photorealistic paintings for our first project. …

How can I get my abstract acrylic paint to move more smoothly? 
I am working in abstract on a 14 x 11" canvas. In order to get my shapes and details nice and smooth I am having to work too hard on it. Lots of drag, …

How to dilute acrylic paint that is too thick or too hard 
If the acrylic paint is too thick or too hard, how can it be diluted? Hello Ketoma, If you find that your acrylic paint is too thick or …

Using oils and acrylics in the same painting 
Is it okay to use a mixture of acrylic and oil paints in an abstract painting? Thanks! Regards, Nisha Great question! Generally, it is not …

Using wood varnish on acrylic paintings 
Can I use an ordinary varnish for my acrylic paintings - the type of varnish that is used on wood? I'm a self-taught painter and I'm doing this as a …

How to Paint Clean, Crisp Lines with Acrylics 
I would love to know how to paint clean, crisp lines in acrylic. I have practiced several different mediums with art for my whole life but am fairly …

How to create a high gloss acrylic finish 
How do you create an acrylic painting with a high gloss finish? Can you add a water soluble varnish to the paint as it is applied? I want to bring out …

Toxicity of Acrylic Paint? 
I have wanted to study painting (as a hobby) but have stayed away from it because of the toxicity issue associated with oil paint solvents. Now I want …

How to varnish a giclee print that has been painted on with acrylics 
Reader Question: Hi, I am going to have some giclee prints made of a painting, and then personalize the individual prints. I am experimenting with personalizing …

Can you reliably use the same set of brushes for watercolors and acrylics? 
Reader Question: Are brushes damaged by an alternation between acrylic and watercolor usage? Should I use only one set for one and one set for the other? …

Dammar varnish on an acrylic painting? 
Reader Question: After you varnish an acrylic painting, and it has dried, can you use Dammar varnish on top? Hi Rena, I wouldn't recommend …

Protecting an acrylic painting on a guitar 
Reader Question: I have painted a guitar with acrylic paints and want to protect it. I have tried using hairspray to coat it so that it wouldn't smudge …

How long before rinsing acrylic paint off your brush? 
Reader Question: Thanks Thaneeya for your help! Yours is the first website I've found that is so tremendously helpful to artists! You go out of your …

How long should an acrylic painting dry before varnish is applied? 
Reader Question: How long should an acrylic painting dry before varnish is applied? Hi Sharon, Although acrylics dry quickly on the surface, …

Is it okay to mix different brands of acrylic paint? 
Reader Question: Can you intermingle different brands of acrylic paints? I inherited some Liquitex & Duro brand acrylic paints & just bought a few Golden. …

How to Store Canvas Paper Paintings 
Reader Question: I'm in the middle of a project to make a painting for every page of Frankenstein . Each painting is acrylic on canvas paper, only …

How to stop dust settling in the varnish 
Reader Question: I have an acrylic painting that is mainly white and the second I start applying the varnish, I watch and it seems that any speck of …

Temperatures that damage paintings 
Reader Question: I've found from a few sources that an acrylic painting can develop a weak paint film if applied/allowed to dry in temperatures of 40F …

Preparing wood for painting and maintaining transparency 
Reader Question: Hello, I'm interested in using acrylic on wood without priming with white gesso. I would like the wood grain to be visible and …

Applying layers of acrylics 
Reader Question: I'm wondering about the best way to apply acrylics for my attempt at pop art. Is it best to use one thick layer or several thin layers …

Opacity of white acrylic paint 
Why do I always have to put at least 2 coats of white acrylic on my paintings? Certain acrylic colors are more opaque than others - for instance, …

Restoring a used canvas 
When I am painting the background on a canvas, I sometimes mess it up, so I let it dry and then start again. Because I am painting over it again, sometimes …

Is it okay to paint over varnish? 
Can you paint acrylic over a varnished acrylic painting - should you find you need to fix something in the painting that has only come to light after …

How to fix a canvas with a warped corner 
I have a 48" x 60" gallery wrapped canvas that has one corner that is warped. It will not hang flat against the wall when I am done with the intended …

Varnish for acrylic painting on unglazed ceramic 
I'm going to use acrylic paints on an unglazed ceramic plate. What varnish can I use? Hi Vimi, If you are going to paint with acrylics on …

Painting the radiance of lights at night 
The subject for my acrylic painting is the Eiffel Tower at night with the sky as background. The Tower is lighted. How do I paint the "radiance" emanating …

How do I get a very smooth uniform paint surface? 
How do I get a very smooth uniform paint surface? I am painting on smooth composition board. Also should I treat the composition board surface before …