View Full Version : First painting in acrylic

11-02-2010, 07:06 PM
Hi everyone. I'm new here, though not new to WC (I usually post in the drawing and sketching area). Last year I wanted to try painting when my aunt gave me my grandmother's easel, brushes, and art box. My grandmother painted in oil so I tried it. I've done 5 paintings in oil (3 of which were with tutorials). I'm working on my second oil that I'm doing totally by myself.

I don't really like oil because it takes a long time to dry and is hard to clean up. Other than that it's OK. I wanted to try acrylic though and this is my first painting with it.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm more used to drawing. So using color is a bit foreign to me.

Anyway, that's enough about me. lol

This painting was done on 16 X 20 canvas (don't know what type but it's a cheap canvas) and I'm using the Basic brand of acrylics. I know they're probably not the best but they're cheap and it's what I can afford. lol

Any and all CCs are most welcome! I have a lot to learn still. Since I'm basically teaching myself I really could use whatever advice you have. :)

*hugs* Thanks in advance!

11-02-2010, 07:24 PM
You're in a similar position to me, except I have a lot less pencil experience than you I suspect! (Starting mid-Sept) Don't worry too much about starting with less expensive paints, I am likewise stuck with what I can afford (dollarstore kit) and am just determined to push it to it's limits. I figure that way when I can afford the good stuff, if I've sussed out how to get good results out of average paint, maybe I'll get excellent results out of good paint! :) The best tip I've gotten specific to acrylics is to learn the joys of using thin washes and glazes to build up colour to what I want it to be. It does lend a nice look I reckon!

11-02-2010, 08:00 PM
Thanks hon. I have a question though. I've heard of washes and glazes but can never find info on what they actually are. I have a DVD on oil painting and the guy talks a lot about glazes but never says what they are or how to use them. lol

Lady Carol
11-02-2010, 08:22 PM
A glaze is a very thin layer of paint so that the paint underneath can be seen.

Lady Carol
11-02-2010, 08:45 PM
Jess, you have a nice style. A few glazes would help to model the shape of the person.

11-02-2010, 10:20 PM
Bear with me as I am not up on my technical terms so professionals may use the words differently than me! Here is what I've been doing anyhow! :lol:

I take an amount of the paint (either straight or premixed to whatever colour I'm wanting to add) and dilute it out heavily with water until it's like a thin, even, watercolour consistency. The pigment bits just float around in the water and when the water evaporates after being painted they lay in a very thin layer over the canvas/paper/whatever. The brush is applied to the painting, usually over an area I've already painted, the thinner the amount of water the less amount of pigment that will be left when it dries. It adds depth to a shadow (ex in my reddish shadows I added paynes grey which is sort of blue-black and pthalo blues and bits of browny-blues) or lighten an area for example or in an underpainting with gold ochres or umber mixes, to indicate light if I paint over it using darker colours letting a bit peek through or alter how the colour on top appears. Or where I am painting white fur which actually has heaps of different colours (olive-grey-green, blues, purples etc) in it I would paint the white, paint those colours, paint mid and lighter versions of those colours and then glaze it back over the whole thing in various degrees of diluted out white washes to harmonize it. I've read some people say acrylics diluted too far out with water can lift back up when painted over but I haven't had any issues and I dilute it BIG time! I don't scrub or use much brush pressure though so maybe that's the difference? I'm not "disturbing" the layers. LOL The other thing I do sometimes with washing is to run a clean, damp to slightly wet brush against the canvas and then run a brush with the paint over it so that it comes off more smoothly which I suppose is a sort of reverse wash maybe? Depending on how much water was on the clean brush you get a variety of effects.

Glazing as I do it is like how you'd glaze a piece of pottery. The paint is transparent or semi-transparent, not necessarily diluted out but applied thinly to glaze over and alter the base/underlying colours. I sometimes just load on a small amount of the paint and stipple it in lightly and then rub using my fingers or a dry brush to spread the pigments evenly rather than trying to paint an even thin layer of it on. In acrylics I have read (but not done because I haven't got it or tried it) some people glaze with a medium as it extends the paint without diluting it.

The usual arguement against acrylics and for oils is that the oils have a richness and luminosity that acrylics can't match. There are some people who get results out of acrylics that defy that though and usually it's attributed to glazing and washes. (As well as a heckuva lot of skill! LOL)

11-02-2010, 10:25 PM
Oh! Should probably mention that when I do washes the canvas is flat on a table or my lap for obvious reasons. ~_~;

11-03-2010, 12:03 AM
Welcome to the forum. Your off to a good start. You'll find lots of advice here and make new friends to help you on your journey in acrylics.

11-03-2010, 05:46 AM
nice work for a first colour painting !!

there's no reason why you can't work in both oils and acrylics !!

like you i was once impatient about oils drying times !! but that is its biggest bonus for achieving subtle blends of colours and giving time to work your colours

cheap paints are perfectly ok ( i use them alongside my artist quality ones)

and i do mean cheap paints 3.00p for 26 colours

you picked about the hardest subject for starting out

it is amazing the amount of difrent colours you use in a portrait (some will surprise you !! ) a typical portrait pallate will consist of the following

white, yellow ochre, red , lemon yellow , crimson, burnt umber , veridian , and french ultramarine

it will also surprise you how much the other colours besides flesh apear

there is little contrasts in your portrait ( i do the same but am improving gradualy ) it makes a big difrence making darker lowlights and lighter highlights with subtle blends between

it is also surprising how colour seems to be something but is not the colour you think !!

i use the eyedropper tool in my computers photo editing program to discover the colours

for istance eye whites are seldom actualy white !! more often than not they are grey and sometimes surprising how grey !! then there are varying greys smothley blended in to give the eyewhites form like shaddow etc

also some of the shapes , sizes , angles and dimensions aren't quite there ( you aren't far off !! ) but they are pretty critical for portraiture !!

for instance the nose seems large in relation to the small mouth and chin and the eyes seem small and at odd angles ( don't take that too much to heart !! ) they are exceptionaly difficult but are the most important part of a portrait

once you get practice it will become easier but they are still tricky

there is still a lot to practice ( as i have also ) but you have made a good start !!

here's one of mine !! 8'' x 8'' oil on canvas including very cheap paints !!


11-03-2010, 08:14 AM
This is a very nice piece and a really nice style you have. look forward to seeing more.:)

11-03-2010, 09:00 AM
Thank you so much everyone! You all gave such excellent advice! And thanks sooooo much WYSIWYG for the explanation on washes and glazes. I'll definitely experiment with them on my next drawing.

I know portraits are more difficult. But since I mainly draw people, and also want to paint people, I figured it was best to just jump right in.

Shadwell you mentioned about contrast...it's something I'm also working on with my drawings. So I'm not surprised that I had a bit of trouble with it here too. To be honest, I wasn't even thinking of it. lol


11-03-2010, 02:35 PM
another great help will be a colour wheel !!

it will help in all manners of colour theory and mixing and understanding colour

11-03-2010, 10:35 PM
Hi and welcome to the acrylics forum!
Your off to a great start!
It takes a bit of practice with your colors to get used to how they handle and which colors work best where.
Just a suggestion, you might try the grid method especially for portraits to get the features placed properly and shapes.
study your photo references well and look for the different tones in the colors. lighter lights and darker darks make for a more indepth 3d Look.

Good luck, look forward to seeing your next painting!!