Acrylic painting techniques are different styles of manipulating and working with polymer-based acrylic paints. Acrylics differ from oil paints in that they have shorter drying times (as little as 10 minutes) and are soluble in water. These types of paint eliminate the need for turpentine and gesso, and can be applied directly onto canvas. Aside from painting with concentrated color paints, acrylics can also be watered down to a consistency that can be poured or used for glazes.
Preventing Paint From Drying Out
Acrylics are often preferred because they dry faster on canvas than oil paints due to their polymer base. However, in some circumstances, the artist may want the paint to stay moist longer. A trick to keep paints from drying out is to spray a light mist of water over them occasionally. Moisture-retaining palettes also increase acrylic paint drying time, and can be substituted with a shallow container, a sheet of grease proof paper, or piece of wet watercolor paper.
Creating Fluid Paints
Fluid paints can be used like watercolors, or for glazing and washes. To create a more fluid texture, water is added to the paint. The ratio of paint to water depends on how thick the glaze is expected to be. An opaque glaze or paint consists of more paint than water, and will give a more solid color. A translucent glaze or paint will be the opposite, consisting of slightly more water than the opaque version, and will have a smoother texture. Translucent glazes show more of the colors underneath the paint compared to opaque glazes. Artist Keri Ippolito advises that the paint should be watered no more than 50 percent or the paint will not stick to the canvas. After mixing the paints, allow time for the air bubbles to rise to the surface. This will be crucial in many techniques, especially in pouring paints.
Acrylic paint glazes are often used to create more depth in an image. These types of paints are light enough when brushed onto canvas to show the layers underneath. This technique is commonly used to create more realistic images. Light colored glazes also have softening effects when painted over dark or bright images. Artists can mix glazes themselves, or can buy pre-mixed acrylic glazes.
It is best to wait for each layer to dry thoroughly before applying another coat. This will prevent the paint from smearing or leaving unwanted smudge marks. After the application of several layers, rubbing alcohol can be brushed or sprayed on to reveal colors from earlier layers.
A wash is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is very wet with solvent and holds a small load of paint or ink is applied to a wet or dry support such as paper or primed or raw canvas. The result is a smooth and uniform area that ideally lacks the appearance of brush strokes and is semi-transparent. A wash of diluted ink or watercolor paint is very often applied in combination with drawing, as a quick and effective supplement to linear techniques. This technique is called pen and wash, wash drawing, or ink and wash. Normally only one or two colours of wash are used; if more colurs are used the result is likely to be classified as a full watercolor painting. In East Asian traditions Ink and wash painting is a very important technique, all applied with brushes, especially for landscape painting; again only one or two colours are typically used. With water-based media such as inks, acrylic paints, tempera paints or watercolor paints, a wet brush should be dipped into a pool of very wet and diluted paint. This paint pool should be evenly mixed and dispersed to prevent uneven pigment load on the brush. The loaded brush should then be applied to a dry or wet support. Washes are most often applied with large brushes over large areas. The areas in which a wash effects can be controlled with careful application of the wash, and with the use of liquid frisket or rubber cement.
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