View Full Version : Wanting to paint bigger in acrylics

05-05-2015, 11:01 AM
So far I've done only up to 12x12 pieces and since I've embarked on the path to become a professional artist, I was told by a museum curator to paint larger.

I use both Golden and Liquitex fluid acrylic paints, and can see that it take a bit of paint already in my work as I create many layers. I just bought a 20x20 board to go larger but I hesitate as far as how large bottles I should get. Also I don't know what size of brushes to use since I use smaller ones. This is quite an expense to go larger overall, so I'm wondering if anyone would have some suggestions so that I can buy enough supplies but not too many. Probably a little hard to guess.

Thanks ahead!

05-05-2015, 11:10 AM
when I paint big, I use my hands instead of brushes...one way to save money...

05-05-2015, 05:39 PM
Most of my work has been on 36"x20" or 36" x 20" or larger. Depending on your composition and subject matter and the detail work you desire, that would determine your brush size. I like 90% details. I use a #1,#2 and #3 filbert and a liner brush mostly. Background and blending I used to do with a paper towel or a cheap 2"brush (dry). I don't think you will run out of paint from the volume of standard tube sizes. No need to buy more.
Do it and post it, we wanna see a BIG masterpiece from you. :lol:

05-05-2015, 07:17 PM
Since you are planning to continue to paint for the foreseeable future, you may consider purchasing the larger quantities of paint. In doing so, you run out less frequently and it doesn't go bad. It also helps save money since you leave home less (heck, mail order is often free if you can catch the right deal).

Having switched myself from (mainly) small pieces (8x 10 is a really fun size) & tubes to larger surfaces and tubs, I must say it is quite freeing.

If you love doing smalls just for the love of it, smaller galleries and gift shops seem to like small pieces so they can fit more in.

The gift shop up the road from me has 68 artists, 41 from my immediate area (including myself) and the place is roughly the size of my living room.

Have fun!

05-06-2015, 03:58 PM
I find that when you're transitioning up to a larger size a 16x20" is a good one to go with. Brush wise look for sizes similar to a flat brush measuring a 1 inch across. And yes you will start using more paint which costs money, but as long as you chase the sales you shouldn't have to worry about spending too much.

05-06-2015, 04:31 PM
Andelin, I know exactly what you mean. My favorite size to paint in either acrylic or watercolor is 9"X12". 16X20 is scarey for me, but I'm determined! And yes, keep your eye on sales. Register at Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, Daniel Smith, any other mail order places you can think of. Have fun and good luck!!

05-07-2015, 10:39 PM
Painting in the 16" x 20" size can be a bit of a challenge if you have been painting 8" x 10" paintings for awhile.

My first suggestion: If you use a PC to print out your reference photo, you don't need to use a grid system to go from an 8" x 10" image to an 8" x 10" drawing. But to scale your painting up to 16" x 20" you will find it helpful to use a grid system, so that objects will not appear wrong size, wrong place.

My second suggestion: Realize the futility of spending too much time working on the background when the background is uniform in color and appearance (such as often is the case when there is a wall in the background of a still life). Quickly lay-in the background using a palette knife or painting knife, and either fill in the "nicks" where the canvas shows through in a second pass using a brush, or let the background dry (doesn't take long in acrylics) and redo with the knife. You can then spend a more appropriate amount of time on the details in the foreground.

These are a couple of things that I have found worthwhile to remember when painting in larger sizes.

05-09-2015, 12:38 PM
Hi Andelin. Painting big is fun and can be very liberating. Brush size can depend on your preference and the kind of work you are doing. In my experience fine detail requires a fine brush regardless of canvas size. For example, a one-inch hog bristle for large areas like skies and a 00 sable for fine detail. The degree of control you can get with sable is unsurpassed in my view and, contrary to what many will tell you, they are great with acrylics providing you take extra care to keep them clean. Standard tubes and pots of paint should be OK. Paint colours that you use a lot could be bought in 8 ounce pots and accessories like glazing fluid in 16 fluid ounce bottles. Give it a try and let us see the result.

05-09-2015, 12:58 PM
I paint big like 24x30 or 24x36 or even bigger at times the biggest i painted lately is 4x4 feet as i came across some canvases for $10 that size. it was printed on them so I had to gesso them first. I find the bigger they are the more detail you have to get. in other words people like to see the faces of people in a more realist way. I went to where some old masters like in the 1600 paintings was and they painted life size paintings of people. I could get up close and look the paintings in the eyes and i saw the lines of diff color in each eye ball. It look like a photo to me . :lol: :lol: I may never get that detail but you can do it. :thumbsup:
Yes it was scary when I first draw on the 4x4 but as i started putting paint on with a 2 inch brush or even a three inch brush I used to put the gesso on I knew i can do it. I used the big brushes to lay down the main colors and then went to the smaller ones like a halve inch for finer laying down the colors then to smaller ones for detail. I even used my 00 liner brushes in some areas. :D

in other words when you start on the painting it be just like any other painting. I like to paint a full size live like size like a full figure body portrait one day so that be about the size of a door :lol:

as for cost you will see it will not cost that much more for the size you going to. If it a 4x4 feet one then yes the cost will be more but you do it as you know it what you want.

saaz hop
05-11-2015, 04:11 PM
Going from 12x12 to 16x20 would twice the paint and a 24x30 would be 5 times as much as you currently use. Of course your style will determine how much paint per sq inch you are applying but when I started going bigger I didn't find I was going through tubes and tubes of paint (I'm using heavy body acrylic). You may want to get an 8 or 10 flat to lay in backgrounds and adjust your brush sizes based on your style.

05-17-2015, 04:03 AM
Some tips to lessen the cost of working larger:

A simple palette can help keep costs down; instead of buying a lot of colors in small sizes, a lower number of colors in larger sizes offers savings.

In Golden paints (my favorite), I recommend this selection:
Quinacridone Magenta
Pyrolle Red*
Hansa Yellow Opaque*
Pthalo Blue (Green Shade)
Chromium Oxide Green
Titanium White
Mars Black
at least one 'earth' color - Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, etc. -look at the swatches online, or better yet, look at the tubes in an art store: the color on the tube is actual paint (Golden) and select a couple. These are a good basis for many colors in landscapes and portraits. They are also the most permanent and the least expensive pigments out there! A hard combination to beat.Why mix a brown from pricier yellow, red and blue, when you can use a brown as a starting point?

[*No cadmiums - they are more expensive, have toxicity issues, and Golden's website labels them "not for exterior use" under 'permanency'.]

Synthetic brushes are very good these days, and can be had inexpensively.

If, at some point, you want to go VERY large, birch plywood comes in 4x8 foot panels at Home Depot; they will cut it into smaller sizes at a nominal charge. Local artist Terrance Osborne does his New Orleans scenes and Jazzfest poster originals on it, using Golden acrylics.

Most important: have fun exploring!

[I have not been compensated in any way for this posting by Golden Paints, Home Depot, or Terrance Osborne!]