View Full Version : New to Acrylics

10-23-2014, 02:37 PM
Haven't done too many Acrylics yet. Mostly done scratch board, colored pencil and graphite, so these aren't like blow away awesome, but would like some C&C so I know what to improve.

The mountain picture isn't quite done. The tree ended up too far off to the right, so was going to plant a bigger one a little more left onto the picture unless someone can offer a better suggestion of how to "fix" this one. :)

Both of these are 8x10 canvas board using Golden Open Acrylics.

Thanks and enjoy!

chammi kaiser
10-23-2014, 03:12 PM
Michael, you are well on your way. Certainly good work for your first acrylics. I would suggest that you try to have more of a contrast between your darks and lights to give them more impact otherwise no crits from me. Well done.

10-24-2014, 12:53 PM
Welcome to acrylics. You're off to a good start and in a good place to learn. I don't know what to suggest about the tree but I know there are others here who are better at that sort of thing.

10-24-2014, 02:46 PM
Looks a bit like you're working too fast. Block in some base color and shapes first, then work on detail (kinda like drawing). I've also got some video tutorials you mind find useful: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96251A0AFD6FD2F7

10-24-2014, 02:54 PM
You can certainly keep adding layers and fixes on these to get more practice.
sometimes doing fixes and redos is how I learned a lot. practice with different brushes, strokes and angles, watch a lot of painting videos on your tube..
some basics- don't center main objects, soften lighten distant things.

my siggy link has many more composition tips..

Partner: WetCanvas Live! with Johannes Vloothuis - forum is great - http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=522

10-27-2014, 11:49 AM
Thanks for the tips and critique. I guess I just need to do more practicing. Each of these small painting is about a week each, believe it or not with many layers and many colors. I start off with a wash of base color, then a pencil drawing and then start painting. Lots of starts and stops, sometimes with days in between. Sometimes I work on one or two sections for days, lol. Maybe that's the problem. Videos aren't helping because they don't show the details about how to hold the brush, what angle to apply to the canvas (a side shot would help a lot, not always behind the artist), what to do if the fan brush starts clumping, how thin is the paint they are using, there are a lot of factors that they assume you just know or they just give generalities, that for a beginner isn't enough. At least, that is what I have found.

I guess practicing is the best teacher. I just wish it wasn't so expensive. :)

10-27-2014, 12:55 PM
I think a lot of that will come with practice like you said (newbie talking here and saying that for me too!). I would keep looking on Youtube for the free ones, but then there are other avenues. One is http://www.craftsy.com/. With the holidays coming, they should have some good sales. Last year, they had an end of the year one where many (all?) classes were $9.99. Seems that price point has changed to $14.99, but we shall see. Also, I subscribed to http://improvemypaintings.com/index.html this past week-end. That has helped me to actually watch how a LONG painting is done. And he answers questions along the way. I think there are lots of ways (many more than acrylic painters had just 10 years ago) to learn how to paint. But, yes, practice is the best teacher. Why do you think it's expensive? The paint? Just wondering as I'm new to all this too. ;)

Charlie's Mum
10-27-2014, 01:14 PM
Applying the paint -

Michael, if you need to, just learn, by trial and error, how to make marks with the brush(es).
You'll find different shapes make different marks - try with different thicknesses of paint too.
You might like the mark a thickish paint makes if you just load the brush and, holding it with thumb on top/hand beneath, lay the paint onto the canvas/board ... don't brush out, just re-load and lay another beside it. Keep building, using other colours if you like so they mix visually.

If using a small round, hold it more like a pencil as it's usually for more controlled, detail work.

Try a square ended brush, load with one (or two) colours together and work in an X movement, see how the marks change and how the colour behaves.

For long, controlled movement, load the brush and pull along - and back and forth, see the difference ...... you might like this for a sky where you can work wet colours into each other horizontally. Hold the brush in a comfortable way - if it's awkward you'll struggle, so just experiment!
It also depends whether you're standing at the easel or sitting over a table - you'll change your hold accordingly.

When wanting another colour, clean the brush off on paper - use old magazines etc just to get rid of surplus paint, then rinse it, wipe with clean paper or cloth and add paint for next bit.

Same with fan brush - this is used mainly for blending wet colours rather than applying the paint - if it picks up too much, wipe and rinse.

Try these things with different thickness of paint - you'll then find what you like best ........ thin glazes need to be built to get richness of colour.
Thick paint is generally a one-off application (but not always!)

Work from thinner, transparent colours towards thicker, opaque colours near the end of the painting ...... think of something like thin glass colours, building towards thick small high-lights -regardless of subject!:)

In the Information Kiosk (link in my signature) near the top is a sticky thread about Tips for the Acrylic Painter - worth looking at.
Also in the IK are plenty of Classroom threads which explain how things are done.
Check out the PALs too (Paint-A-Longs) ..... there's currently a PAL about painting glass, but others have dealt with different topics.

Personally, I don't think you need spend money on videos - I guess practicing is the best teacher you said it all with this remark! :)

10-27-2014, 02:15 PM
Thanks Maureen! I think that was the most helpful reply I have received in any forum! Not that others haven't been helpful mind you, but I think some things you said just may have made some things click. Thank you!

@TeaTrekkie - Yes, the paint can get really expensive. I spent over $50 on 4 tubes of good professional quality acrylic paints. That is mainly me though because I believe in using the best you can afford so you learn with the correct supplies and correct techniques. :)

Charlie's Mum
10-27-2014, 07:30 PM
Anything I can do to help Michael, just shout! ..... or send me a private message in case I don't get back to your thread!:)

10-28-2014, 02:42 PM
I suppose this is a tip that depends on style, your goals, and personal taste:

If you're going for a degree realism, remember that no surface in the real world is going to be a pure flat color. Values change depending on light sources and shadows.

Giving each surface a subtle or not so subtle change from light to dark gives instant depth. Look at reference and objects around you and practice noticing and seeing how this works.

This is also something artists can fake for emphasis, making the area behind a the light edge of an object darker. And the area behind the dark edge of an object lighter. Having elements interact in this way helps to unify a composition. A quick way to create a focal point is to have the darkest edge and the lightest edge of your painting right next to each other. "Great contrast comes forward" .

For quick practice, do five minute sketches with simple objects with a single light source making sure to also draw the "background".

Hope this helps in some way!

10-28-2014, 03:10 PM
I don't think I explained that well, so I quickly make an example showing one possible way of using gradation and light sources.


Thought it'd be a helpful tip since it's one that doesn't take much time or any additional detail. A few quick washes can really change the impact of a painting :)

10-29-2014, 10:38 AM
Welcome to the forum.

Lots of good advice from the others. Keep painting and you will see improvement.

10-29-2014, 11:53 AM
Very nice - I particularly like the skies. Especially the yellow clouds.

10-31-2014, 11:40 AM
Changed some things on this one and decided to call it done before I messed it up any more. I'll do the next one differently. Not sure how the top of the water ended up so green in the pic, it isn't that green IRL. Anyway, it is signed and done and I am as happy as I am going to get with this one. :) Enjoy!

10-31-2014, 02:40 PM

This is very nice! Don't you hate when the camera changes hues and things?

10-31-2014, 05:21 PM
yes, very annoying... :)

11-01-2014, 02:01 AM
Have you found any of Jerry Yarnell's videos? He explains quite a bit as he goes along..

If you get the PBS channels there might be some painting shows on it too, I can watch Jerry Yarnell, Buck Paulson, Bob Ross rerun shows, and many more..
I watch Oil painters too for various technique and brush work skills , then just practice ..

11-02-2014, 10:54 PM
Changed some things on this one and decided to call it done before I messed it up any more. I'll do the next one differently. Not sure how the top of the water ended up so green in the pic, it isn't that green IRL. Anyway, it is signed and done and I am as happy as I am going to get with this one. :) Enjoy!

You did a great job and definitely see a lot of depth thanks to the very smart changes with he foreground and enjoy the final composition! Keep at it and keep having fun.