Beginner's Guide: How to start painting in acrylic?

Guia para iniciantes: Como começar a pintar em acrílico?

Acrylic Paint: A Brief History
Acrylic paint, derived from plastic components such as oil, was developed in the 1940s for industrial use, that is, for covering interiors and exteriors of buildings. Artists began to use acrylic as a way to explore their technical capabilities, because due to the aqueous form of the paint, it is feasible to interact with other means and plastic techniques, thus introducing the possibility of producing works of mixed techniques.
The invention of the first acrylic paint for artists was attributed to the company Sam Golden, in 1950. Previously, the manufacture of these was a knowledge that belonged to artists, however from the 20th century, with the technological development of the industry, companies started to have rights to chemical formulas. This event offered artists greater freedom and acceleration of the artistic process, in addition to a higher quality of the material. Thus, the acrylic technique enabled the emergence of movements such as Abstract Expressionism, ColorField, among others, with artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis and Jack Levine.
Do you want to take your first steps in the world of acrylic? In this article we have collected some hints and tips to help you get familiar with the necessary materials and tricks.
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What materials are needed to paint acrylic?
Acrylic painting is one of the most recommended techniques for those who want to take their first steps in the world of painting, as it is an economical and quick-drying method. Conceived to be applied to different types of surfaces, this technique stimulates all kinds of possibilities. To start painting in acrylic you will need paint, brushes or spatula, a palette and a surface (canvas, paper, wood).

Is a palette needed?
The palette, whether made of wood or plastic, is the tool used to arrange colors in an orderly and accessible way. You can choose to place the colors directly on the canvas, but to make it easier, it's best to start by placing them on the palette.

What brushes should I use?
For ease of use, brushes are organized by number. When choosing, you need to know what the desired finish is, that is, if you want to create the contours of objects, such as a mountain, use brushes with a larger number, which are large and flat. For backgrounds, the best option is to use opaque acrylic paint, that is, straight from the tube. Details, such as trees, a river or flowers, are conceived after the general contours, with brushes of a lower number and more pointed, so that it is possible to create fine lines.

What screen should I buy?
The easiest and safest option is to buy a screen already primed. You can get this kind of canvas in practically every store. An unprimed canvas is the cheapest option but involves a lot more prep work, which isn't ideal for those just starting out.
One material, cheaper than canvas, is paper. If you intend to opt for this option, you must choose a thick paper so that it does not tear with the ink. When using acrylic paint diluted with water, on a thick paper block, you get a finish like watercolor paint.
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Tips on how to use acrylic paint

  1. First, pour paint onto the palette. Start with the three primary colors (magenta, blue and yellow) and black and white. If you want to create new shades, mix the paint with these colors. As acrylic paint yields a lot, just put a drop of each color on the paint palette. It is not necessary to create a sketch, just paint directly on the intended area with a brush slightly dampened with water to achieve a more even effect.
  2. To design different finishes, you have to learn to work acrylic with water. By adding more water the color becomes more translucent. If you apply the paint directly from the tube to the canvas, the effect is more opaque and thicker. If you do not want this effect, you can spray water on the palette. To form multiple layers, use a dry brush to create textures and details.
  3. As in this technique it is possible to produce several layers, if modifications are necessary, just let it dry and paint over it.
  4. Acrylic paint dries very quickly, so it's important, when you're not using the brush, to leave them immersed in water. As for the paint on the palette, it should be sprayed with water so it doesn't dry out, every ten to fifteen minutes.
  5. To clean the palette, just wait for the paint to dry and remove it with the spatula little by little. In the end, no fixative is necessary, although it is recommended to apply a protective varnish to ensure its conservation and durability.

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