View Full Version : Getting started with Arcylics

05-28-2004, 06:26 PM
Hi there,
I'm sure there must be something here that could help me but thought I'd ask! I usually work with watercolours but would like to give arcylics on stretched canvas a go! Could anyone here point me in the right direction or give me a little advice on how to get started? Things from start to finish like, preparing the canvas, which acrylics are great to play with when first starting out and how to 'seal' or finish off the painting. Just some basic tips would be really fanstatic!

Thanks!!! :D

05-28-2004, 08:34 PM
Even for me that has been doing acrylic painting for a while these points will help me too.

I buy Fredrix stretched canvas/canvas board and canvas pads to do my acrylic work on. I don't have to prepare them.

I also use a clear spray from a can to finish off my art. Well if they do it to furniture it can't be that bad for my art - right?

I'm getting into Winsor and Newtons Galeria paints. They are student grade but better quailty than Reeves and still cheap. We are now to one income and I "have" to keep up my addiction to painting.

One painting a day keeps the blues away!

Marty C
05-28-2004, 09:09 PM
Hi Angelaura,
Welcome to the wonderful world of acrylics. If you stick with this medium you will find it is quite remarkable, it can look like watercolour, it can look like oils, it can look any way you want it. There are issues such as a very quick drying time, which is both a plus and a minus from a blending point of view but with experience and experimentation and a few questions all obstacles can be overcome. I only use acrylics, and I only use water, and I have no complaints about acrylics.
If you wish to prepare your own canvas, have a look at this article I wrote. You can make stretched canvas very cheaply with great results in any size you want.
I use Atelier acrylics which I know are readily available in NZ. The same company also makes Jo Sonja acrylics. Both are reasonably priced, artist quality and I have used both extensively with no problems. The Jo Sonja are marketed as a craft acrylic and dry to a matte finish but are perfectly suited to canvas if desired.
When you have finished your masterpiece, seal it with varnish in a matt, satin or gloss. The type of finish is really up to you, a satin is usually a safe bet, whereas a gloss can increase the depth and contrasts in the work. Personal choice. Use a very good brush, apply quickly and apply several coats. For lots of detail on varnish do a search in the search box at the top of the page, there is heaps of information out there.

05-29-2004, 10:48 AM
If you haven't already bought your acrylics Marty's suggestions are probably the best to follow, but Winsor & Newton Galeria or Daler-Rowney System 3 might be easier to get along with coming from watercolours as they have less body, you can still produce excellent work with either despite them being single-price ranges.

To start with I would suggest buying pre-made canvases, it's a lot to get used to stretching your own canvas and learning a new medium at the same time, plus if you find this isn't for you, you haven't wasted the money that a good pair of canvas pliers, a tack hammer and the other supplies would have set you back. If you want the texture but you don't like the 'give' of stretched fabric you can glue canvas to rigid supports like plywood, hardboard and MDF if you like.

If you want to try painting just on primed panel have a look at this ( http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192000) thread for my prep tips.

To begin with I would suggest using synthetic brushes only, there are a host of polyester and nylon brushes available as flats, filberts and rounds that last well when used with acrylics and don't get slack when wet with water like natural bristle brushes, which I personally don't like at all.

Always dampen your brush before loading with paint and get in the habit of rinsing them well, and often, during use. Acrylics dry very quickly and are difficult to remove without damaging the brush. I would recommend a double-bath system: two containers of water, one for the initial rinsing and the second for a final rinse-out and as mixing water. A couple of drops of dishwashing liquid in both will help clean your brushes and improves the brushability of the paint, but it can lead to bubbles forming during painting so don't use any in your mixing water if you experience this problem with the way you paint.

Unlike watercolours you can't mix your paint just with the brush. This is fine for smaller quantities or the occasional mix for one brushstroke, that sort of thing, but for any larger quantities and especially with paint of heavier body you'll ruin your brushes if you use them as your only tool for mixing paint. I would recommend a painting knife (not a palette knife) for mixing as they allow for great precision in picking paint up and adding medium or water drop by drop, they also help prevent getting your knuckles in the paint during mixing.

I would recommend glass, smooth ceramic tile, Persex or melamine as the best palettes to use in roughly that order.

Protecting acrylics is a good idea as they are soft at room temperature and can respond to changes in humidity by getting tacky, making them very prone to damage from dust. The two options are framing behind glass and varnishing. If you choose to varnish I would recommend a spirit-soluble varnish like Golden's MSA, Liquitex's Soluvar or the one now made by W&N, there are probably others to choose from also. These are much easier to apply than water-based varnishes apart from anything!

Be sure to look at the sticky at the top of the Acrylics page for more tips and there are many past threads that can help with other general queries.


05-29-2004, 06:18 PM
Hi there,
Just wanted to thank you all so much for your tips to get me started, wow it's going to really help me get on my way. ;) I'm all fired up to give acrylics a go and can't wait to get started! I will post some work once I have completed one to let you see how I went with my first dabble!

Many Thanks to you all again,