15 Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques for Beginners

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When I turned 48, I decided it was finally time to pursue my lifelong dream to learn how to paint. I had always wanted to learn. I always loved drawing, photography and crafting but they never satisfied the itch to paint.

A local artist, Jeremy Doss, decided to start teaching Oil Painting and I jumped at the chance. I remember telling him, “If I really suck at this just tell me and I’ll leave.” He laughed and said, “If I can teach a pigeon-toed man to dance, I can teach you to paint.” I was hooked.

So You Think You Can’t Paint?

Painted by Someone with Natural Talent

Anyone can paint. Most people think you have to be born with natural talent. Granted, that is helpful, but not completely necessary. It may come easier for them, that’s all. A concert violinist doesn’t just pick up a violin and play Carnegie Hall the next day. There are thousands of hours of practice in between. The same is true for painting. Once you know the right notes, you practice, practice, practice and voila, you’re an artist.

I started my Art Education with Oils. I do love Oil Painting, but I don’t love the waiting. Oils can take weeks to cure. I’m an instant gratification kind of person, nobody’s got time for that.

Give Acrylics A Chance

7 Mile Beach, very Water Toney

So, I decided to give Acrylics a try. They are the new kids on the block, having been developed in the 1940s. Acrylics have the flexibility of acting like Watercolors or Oils, depending on how you use them. They do dry fast, sometimes too fast. (There are ways to slow it down, but don’t worry about that now.) They come in the same colors I love in my palette. I started out using Jeremy’s palette of colors and over time developed my own. You’ll do the same. I realized, after months of hating the horrible colors in my paintings, that I just hate earth tones. I’m more water tones. (I’m not sure that’s a thing, but it should be)

So, I am going to show you 15 of the most common techniques used in Acrylic Painting. Mix and match these techniques to create anything your heart desires. I have some quick paintings you can practice with already. I’ll be adding the rest shortly. I’ve included some YouTube Videos to help clarify, as well. Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!

In case you missed my post, All the Tools You Need to Start Acrylic Painting, check it out. There is a Printable Checklist that goes along with it if you have subscribed to my email list. When you are finished meet me back here. (Cue Jeopardy Theme Song)

Acrylic Techniques

These techniques were used to Paint a Beautiful Galaxy

A Beautiful Galaxy

1. Dabbing – Dabbing is exactly as it sounds. Take a bristle brush or a sponge, either a natural one or the kind you do your dishes with, dip it into the paint and dab it around the canvas. This technique is good for leaves and bushes and places where you need some texture. Dabbing Video

2. Stippling – Stippling is very similar to Dabbing. It is the process of taking a thin brush and making dots or specks in places you need more shading or texture. When you use various colors, you can even create a picture with it. The style known as Pointillism is based on stippling. Stippling Video

3. Splatter – This is the most fun technique in my opinion. Great for making stars and fireflies. Cinnamon, the Art Sherpa’s, video shows it better than anyone I know.

4. Drybrush – As it implies, you dip the brush in paint then wipe it off on a paper towel leaving just a hint of paint. Then you brush it in places where you want just a touch of color. Drybrush Video

These techniques were used to create an Abstract Acrylic Ocean

5. one stroke – you dip your brush or palette knife into 2 different colors and let them mix naturally on the canvas. One Stroke Video

6. texture/impasto – using your palette knife, lay on the paint like spackle. leaving chunks and texture and great effects Impasto Video

7. Palette knife – the palette knife makes great edges., tree trunks, branches, fence posts and anything that needs a more precise look. It’s also great for making abstract paintings. Palette Knife video

These techniques were used to make Candles in the Night

Candles in the Night

8. Layering – The beauty of Acrylics is that you can add layers on top of layers to create depth and effects that mimic Oil paintings. You work from back to front. In this case the glow around the candles came first and the details and highlights are last. Layers Video

9. Glazing – like layering, but using a thinner, translucent coat of paint. This changes the tone or value of your colors and allows the colors underneath to shine through. Glazing Video

10. Detailing – adding in the details to create a more realistic painting versus abstract Detailing Video FYI Chuck Black is amazing and has all the videos and techniques you could ever want. That’s how I painted these Candles in the first place.

11. Blending/Scumbling – Acrylics are tougher to blend than oils as they dry quicker. But if you do it while they are still damp, you can achieve some excellent results. Scumbling uses the brushes you have that have seen better days. I generally refer to them as my squidgy brushes. Do not throw them away! They make awesome leaves and grass. Blending Video

These techniques were used to make Hamlin Beach, lake ontario

Hamlin Beach, Lake Ontario

12. Wash – a thin layer of paint mixed with a lot of water to add a wash of color to your background. An excellent way to remove the glaring white of your canvas and set the tone. Wash Video

13. Underpainting – After your Wash is done, you use a Q-tip to draw in your highlights (by removing the paint) and outline your objects. You also use a darker color to map out your shadows Underpainting Video

14. Color blocking – The first step generally where you cover your canvas with paint. This is where you can get your painting mapped out and make your mistakes. Think of it like coloring in your painting so you know where to add details. And it’s totally okay to color outside the lines. Blocking In Video

15. Monochrome – It is a painting with only one or two colors. You wipe away paint to create highlights in your picture. Monochromes are good for practicing because you have fewer colors to keep track of. Monochrome Video

Every painting you do will involve at least one of these techniques unless someone comes up with something new. Do not be afraid to make mistakes! How else are you supposed to learn? The beauty of Acrylics is that if you don’t like something you can just paint over it and start again. Now get out there and start painting!

All the Tools You Need to Start Acrylic Painting

Monet’s Pond in Giverny

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Acrylic Paints are a fun, versatile and very forgiving medium to start painting with. There are no mistakes, you just paint over it and move on.

I started learning how to paint with Oils at the age of 48. I love Oil Painting, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t satisfying my need for speed. It can take weeks for an Oil Painting to dry and cure and I don’t have that kind of patience.

That’s when my mind turned to Acrylic Painting. Acrylics were developed in the 1940s and have slowly made their way into becoming a medium “real” artists can use. They dry much quicker than Oils, generally within 15 minutes, faster if you’re outside. (There are mediums you can add to the paint to slow it down, but personally, I’ve never used them.) The range of colors and brands available now equal that of Oils. You can develop any palette that suits your needs.

As I said in, 15 Acrylic Techniques, my choice of colors has changed over the last 10 years. I started using the same colors as my teacher, Jeremy Doss, but over time evolved to a less earthy more watery theme.

Use this post as a starting point. Then as you paint and practice you will see what works best for you. The sky is the limit. (and the clouds and the happy trees…) I’ve also created a printable checklist you can bring to your favorite craft and hobby store. You’ll find it in my Library Resource section. So, lets begin!

The Paints You Need, and the Ones You Want

Windsor Newton Water Soluble Oil Paint

This is the range of Oil Colors that I first started with, which oddly enough is Jeremy’s color choice. I found everything I needed between Winsor Newton and Rembrandt brands: Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Terra Rosa, Yellow Ochre Pale, Viridian, Sap Green, Cadmium Red Dark and Cadmium Red , Cadmium Yellow Light, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White (which is a bright, opaque, slightly bluish white great for mixing.) These colors will make any color you can dream of. Literally, any color.

I eventually realized I hate really disapprove of Earth Tones. Some people make amazing paintings with them. Jeremy being one of them. I am not that person. I like Water Tones, the colors of Florida and Santa Fe. Turquoise, pinks, tropical colors. So I took out the Terra Rosa and Yellow Ochre and replaced them with Permanent Rose and Turquoise. (I will use Burnt Sienna instead if a brown is called for though.) I am much happier now.

Just a sidebar on the Cadmiums. They are hazardous to your health over a long time if they get absorbed into your skin, so wearing gloves or hand protection is a good idea. Think of all the artists from the past who were a little crazy (Van Gogh will lend you an ear) They may have been a little wacky, to begin with, but I’m sure the poisonous paints didn’t help. There are plenty of colors you can switch out with the Cadmiums if you are worried about it, though.

No Black for Monet!

Notice the absence of Black. You do not need Black in general. When painting landscapes there are dozens of darks you can mix that will give you a beautiful shadow and not leave a black hole in the middle of your painting. Speaking of black holes, I generally use black as my background when doing space paintings if that’s your thing.

Even Monet had a problem with black. In his early years he used a lot of dark colors, but as time went on he lightened up a lot.

When asked about the colors he used in his paintings, Monet replied, “As for the colors I use, what’s so interesting about that? I don’t think one could paint better or more brightly with another palette. The most important thing is to know how to use the colors. Their choice is a matter of habit. In short, I use white lead, cadmium yellow, vermilion, madder, cobalt blue, chrome green. That’s all.”

Supposedly, Monet was so adamant against using black that when he died, his friend Georges Clemenceau refused to allow them to put a black sheet over his coffin. “No! No black for Monet !” and had it replaced with a flowered material.

These Are the Acrylic Equivalents

So with some trial and error, I have found an Acrylic equivalent to my Oil palette. I generally go with Liquitex Basics and Master’s Touch because I am cheap and Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have awesome sales and coupons. All these colors can still be found in Winsor’s Galleria brand which will be my next step I think.

These are the colors I use from Liquitex Basics, notice it is essentially blue, red, green and yellow, with white for mixing.

  1. Ultramarine Blue
  2. Cerulean Blue
  3. Alizarin Crimson
  4. Transparent Oxide Red
  5. Viridian
  6. Deep Green (Instead of Sap Green)
  7. Cadmium Red Medium (Instead of Cad Red)
  8. Cadmium Yellow Light   
  9. Titanium White

These Colors can be bought farther down the road. They give you a deeper range of color choices.

  1. Cobalt Blue
  2. Burnt Sienna (Instead of Terra Rosa)
  3. Cadmium Red Dark

These are the colors I use from Masters Touch (also not necessary to start with but fun to have)

  1. Lemon Yellow
  2. Medium Magenta (Instead of Permanent Rose)
  3. Turquoise
  4. Yellow ochre (if you like Earth Tones)

A Brush, A Brush, My Kingdom for a Brush

There are many different brushes you can use with Acrylic Painting. Round, Bright, Filbert, Flat, and Fan are just a few. Each one gives you different effects and it’s fun exploring what they can do.

I love collecting brushes, I have dozens. I use 4. Just like paints, a few brushes can do the work of many. And as I mentioned before, I’m cheap. Why buy 4 bushes when 1 will do. Doesn’t stop me from buying more when they’re on sale though.

My go to brushes are Filbert, Flat, Round, and Palette Knife. Yes, your palette knife doubles as a brush. It makes lovely tree trunks, fence posts and sharp edges. With the brushes, you have a choice of natural or synthetic. You’ll eventually decide which one you like. I find that if it’s labeled for Acrylic Painting it’ll work fine, regardless. They come in a variety of sizes from the smallest 0 (or 0000 even) to the largest at 24 The bigger the painting you are creating, the bigger the brush you’ll need. I find brushes between 6 and 12 are perfect for up to a 24″ canvas.

These Are Good Brushes To Start With

  1. 2″ Wash Brush
  2. Filbert – #8, #10, #12
  3. Flat – #6, #10
  4. Round – #4, #8
  5. Liner – #10/0 (Which means 0000000000, nice and thin)
  6. Palette Knife – 3.5″ Multi-Angle and Diamond Shape

All the Fun Tools and Goodies That Go With Them

Now that you have your Paints and Brushes, it’s time to put them to work. These next items will make your Acrylic Painting journey much easier.

Acrylics are water based so you will need a container to hold water and rinse your brushes. I use a plastic brush washer bucket from Hobby Lobby.

Sponges, Q-tips and Viva Paper Towels are also very handy. Viva holds up much better than the rest, I even use them for Oil Painting. You can make some neat special effects with sponges and draw with the Q-tips.

You’ll need a place to put your paints like a Plastic or Glass Palette (or even a plastic disposable plate, Acrylics are not fussy)

There are many choices for paint surfaces as well. You can paint on inexpensive cotton or the more professional linen canvas, wood panels and even rocks. If you want something good to practice on there are also pads of canvas paper you can buy.

You should also pick up an easel as well. There are some nice tabletop ones available if you don’t have space. I tend to paint on a lap desk or art drawing board out on my porch.

When you are finished with your paintings, they will need to be sealed. It will keep the painting clean and bright and make your colors really pop. I like Liquitex Soluvar Satin Varnish. Glossy is too shiny and Matte is boring. Satin is a nice in-between.

The Tools of the Trade

  1. Water Container
  2. Natural sponges
  3. Q-Tips
  4. Viva Paper Towels
  5. Glass or Plastic Palette
  6. Canvas/Canvas Paper Pad
  7. Easel/Lap Desk
  8. Varnish

And that, my friend, is the beginning of your Acrylic Journey. Over time you will develop your own kit. Please let me know if you find anything fun that I can add to mine.

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Happy Painting!

Acrylic Comparison

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Liquitex Basics, Artists Loft, Masters Touch, Americana DecoArt, Winsor Newton Galeria, and Grumbacher Academy

I have insomnia. Most nights I am awake from 2 to 4 in the morning. Around 2ish I wake up, head for the bathroom and if I can make it back to bed without opening my eyes I’m good. More often than not, my rising from the bed creates a mass exodus of animals from under the blankets. The cat wants out, the dogs want snacks and long after they are back under the covers, I am wide awake.

I don’t turn the TV on as its too noisy and more stimulation than I need. So, I sit in my chair and watch YouTube videos on my phone. I’d never paid much attention to YouTube before. I never really understood what it was about. I thought it was just a bunch of people’s home videos and I can barely watch my own.

With a better phone and unlimited data, I started to find myself turning more and more to YouTube. I like the fact that most of it is 20 minutes or less. I’m not into commitments. Especially at 2 in the morning.

YouTube, better than Ambien

Hercules’s Pretzels

I have become totally obsessed with the Hercules Candy videos. There is something so soothing and relaxing about watching pretzels go through the enrober. As a Rochester transplant, it’s nice to hear an Upstate New York accent again. It was fun watching the video of their trip to Buffalo. They literally passed by my old house just off of 90.

Mayim Bialik is another favorite. I love her on Big Bang and her videos are always fun. I forgot that she played a young Bette Midler in Beaches. (Was trapped on an airplane once with Beaches as the in-flight movie. The girl in front of me was actually wailing at one point. Fun flight.)

Which brings me finally to the point. I find the best way to go back to sleep is to watch paint dry. So I troll YouTube looking for “How to Paint” videos. A couple of those and I’m ready for bed.

Who Can Sleep When an Australian is Talking?

How to Paint Tropical Water

A few nights ago I came across Mark Waller’s “How to Paint Tropical Water” video. His tutorial is easy to follow and his Australian accent is easy on the ears. Come for the art, stay for the accent!

I wanted to immediately start painting waves, not conducive to sleeping but good for thinking up projects. That got me thinking about my last projects, Create an Abstract Acrylic Ocean and Paint a Beautiful Galaxy. Both times I mentioned that I use a variety of Acrylic paints. Mostly because I’m cheap. I buy nothing at full price. Both Michaels and Hobby Lobby have lovely coupons and/or sales all.the.time! If you are too impatient to wait a week for the sale, you really need to take up yoga or something.

A Beautiful Galaxy

I would love Oil Painting more if the paints were cheaper. (and less messy, and less mineral spirity…but I digress) When I first started Oil Painting I would buy 1 tube every paycheck, depending on the sale at the time. (If no sale, then a nice juicy 40% off coupon) It took a long time but I eventually bought all my colors. With Acrylics, I can buy 3 or 4 for the price of one Oil. I am getting a little lazy though. Instead of having my base colors and mixing what I need, the inexpensiveness of acrylics encourages me to just buy the colors I need. Though if I’m honest, I must admit I like the colors I generate with my mixes better than the pre-mixed.

These are a Few of My Favorite Paints

Just to let you know, I’m not being sponsored by any of these paints. If someone would like to sponsor me that would be nice but this is all me.

My favorites, in no particular order, are Liquitex Basics, Masters Touch, Artists Loft and when I have extra money to spend, Golden. I find myself leaning towards Liquitex Basics for some reason. I don’t know why. So I want to do an experiment. Using Mark’s Video as my guide (who am I kidding, it’s the accent) I will paint and compare 4 wave paintings. 1 each using Basics, Masterstouch, Artists Loft and just for fun Folk Art Paint (Anita’s and Americana)

I will use the same white with all of them, Master’s Touch Titanium White, for mixing and use as close to the same colors as possible. (mostly what I have on hand, I’m too cheap to go buy more if I don’t have to.)

The Mission, should I choose to accept it

This is what I’ll be looking for in comparison. Ease of use, is it too thick or too runny? Coverage, how many coats does it need? The vibrancy, good colors or dull? And whatever else pops up in the process. Maybe I’ll even do a group using the Professional versions and see what happens.

All the canvases will be the basic cotton canvas from Michael’s (I stock up with the sales) Perhaps I’ll do a comparison with some of the other fun canvases later. Here is what I’m using for brushes: #12 Royal & Langnickel Flat, #8 Liquitex Basics Filbert, #10 Royal & Langnickel Filbert, and an 8/0 White Sable Robert Simmons Round.

I checked the prices against Amazon, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Walmart. Amazon does run higher due to no coupons but has all the colors you need, all the time. Walmart doesn’t carry them, so it’s down to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. All the paints run between 3.99 and 4.99, so they’re all pretty equal in that respect. (The Folk Art paints are somewhat cheaper, though)

As I finish each painting, I’ll post the results here. Let’s see what happens!

First Up: Liquitex Basics

I do like Basics. It has good coverage, even on the first coat. It mixes well and its colors are bright and pretty. ( Yes, pretty is a technical term ). I plan on doing this one again after trying a few of the others as I don’t have a comparison at the moment. But so far I like what I see. I can’t wait to try the next one.

Liquitex after 1 layer of Paint
Finished Result


Next is Artist’s Loft.

It’s the least expensive which I like. The first coat was a little funky and showed the brush strokes more than Liquitex. But it was easily fixed and as you can see, turned out just fine.

Artist’s Loft after 1st layer
Finished result

Master’s Touch is the Next One Up

I tried Master’s Touch next and I must admit it fought me all the way, which surprised me. I had never noticed that before, but then again, I wasn’t really paying attention. Perhaps they just need a little more water added to make it less sticky. It left streaks which took 2 coats to cover and just didn’t spread the way I like. The end result was very nice though, lots of color that really popped. So I guess that’s what’s really important, right?

Okay, so I tried Master’s Touch again, but this time adding just a bit of water to my brush before painting. It applied much better and didn’t fight me at all (but still took 2 good coats to cover) The colors are still quite good.

First Layer
Finished Result (First Time kinda sticky)
Finished Result (2nd time used more water and worked great)

So, craft paint is still paint, right?

The next one I tried is the Folk Art Paint, Americana Deco Art paint. I have to admit I was actually planning on being very snooty and condescending with the Folk Art paints. Oddly enough, they cover really well. They didn’t fight me at all and they didn’t leave white streaks after the first coat. They blend really easy, too. Maybe it’s because of their thinner consistency than the other brands.

If I have any criticism, though, its that the colors are not as vivid as the other more “Artist” brands. They mix up more subdued and tend to look more pastel which is fine if that’s what you are going for. I was pleasantly surprised at their ease of use, shocked even.

I think they would make great practice paints though. Just had a thought. This might be a case of buying the colors you need instead of mixing them yourself. There are dozens to choose from and when Hobby Lobby and Michaels have sales they can be purchased quite cheaply. This might explain their use for craft projects, no mixing necessary. I will try that and see what happens.

So, I decided to try my idea about using the paints straight out of the bottle with no mixing. Wow, what a difference. They looked good, mixed great and covered on the first layer. Very nice.

Americana First Layer
Americana Mixing the colors
Americana Using the Colors out of the Bottle)

Winsor Newton Galeria, oh my

So my daughter and I were at Jerry’s Artarama in Knoxville spending some birthday gift cards and I thought, let’s see what’s on Sale. And lo and behold, Winsor Newton Galeria was having a 50% off sale. Technically, these paints are twice the price of the others on my list, but when you do the math, they are equal. (So, be patient and wait for the sales.)

So heck yeah I bought them. I have to admit I understand why they are more expensive. The coverage is excellent, the first layer covered very well. The colors are amazing and pop even when mixed. I may have found my new favorite paints. (When they’re on sale, of course, I’m cheap not crazy. My mother had me tested.)

In the interest of full disclosure I do have one small complaint. I know this is nit picky, but the paints smell funny. Funny weird, not funny haha. It’s hard to describe, like they’ve left in an old sweaty gym bag. The smell goes away when it dries, but it took me by surprise. One of the reasons I don’t oil paint indoors is the smell. So far this summer I’ve been painting on the porch because I have room to spread out, but I’m a little concerned about using them inside this Winter. I’ll let you know what happens.

Now, when’s the next sale ‘cuz I’ve got some more gift cards to spend.

Winsor Newton Galeria : Two Words…Oh my!

Last but not least, Grumbacher Academy

Grumbacher Academy went on sale and I swooped in and got some colors. Right now I have enough blues and yellows to last me years. I’m going to have to come up with a lot of tropically paintings I think.

So, Academy was nice. It’s a thinner consistency than the others so it flows quite well. The coverage is okay, but it does take a couple coats for complete coverage. The colors are quite good and mixed well. Perhaps if I had used it before the Galeria I would have enjoyed it more. But in a pinch, it is an excellent choice.

Grumbacher Academy

in conclusion

I had a lot of fun trying out the different brands. They all had their good points and would work well for many different projects. When you find one you like, just keep working with it until it does what you want. As you can see below they all produced very good results. Thank you for following along with me. Now, what else should I try?

Acrylic April 2019

It’s that time of year again, Acrylic April! The weather is warming up and I have the desire to sit on the porch and paint. Word on the street is that there is a worldwide challenge going on to paint a small (less than 12×12 inch) painting, using Acrylics, every day this month and post/pin it. I’m in. Let’s see what happens. Check out TheArtSherpa for daily Acrylic Inspiration Videos!

April 1, 2019

Acrylic April 2019

No fooling, this painting is only 2.5″ x 3.5″. Referred to as an ACEO (Art Cards and Originals) ACEO’s are fun to paint and easy to store.
ACEO
It’s smaller than a pen, but bigger than life! Just like the Synchronous Fireflies they are patterned after!

April 2, 2019

This 4×6 cutie was done with just 4 colors,
Black, Red, Yellow and White

April 3, 2019

This 8×10 Galaxy is out of this world!

April 4, 2019

Acrylic Pour and Cricut, the perfect combo

April 5, 2019

Cherry Blossom Acrylic Pour

April 6, 2019

4×6 Middle Prong

April 7, 2019

Super Moon, Super Beautiful

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Create a Beautiful Galaxy in 5 Steps

A Beautiful Galaxy in Acrylic

I have always been fascinated by the stars.  Someone once told me that looking at the stars for ten minutes every night is good for your soul.  I have to agree. So, just for fun I took some Astrophysics Classes on Coursera for free. Why not? I learned so much and now when I look at the stars, I really see them.


So now I’m obsessed with painting the Universe.  There are billions and billions of objects to paint out there,  everything you do is right! You can literally paint anything and it’s right.

This is one of those times you can do it straight out of your head but if you are like me a little inspiration never hurts.  There are several sites with free stock photos you can use for reference photos. The one I am using here is from Pexels.com.  Make sure if you use someone’s artwork they get the credit for it and get their permission before posting copyrighted work. I love the one titled “Blue and Red Galaxy” by Suzy Hazelwood. You can see it here on Pexels.com. ( I like how the blues pinks and purples blend and I think it will make a nice reference photo.

Time to take on the Universe

Step One: First, gather your supplies. Then take a canvas, any size, and paint it completely black, sides and all.  I do tend to lean towards Liquitex Basics. I like the Basic brand. It’s good and thick, nicely opaque and has very vibrant colors with good coverage. As you can see, I use whatever Brand is on sale!

This Layer is made up of Titanium White, Violet, Quinacridone Magenta and Primary Blue.  (Or in English, White, Purple, Red, and Blue.) I will use the White, Blue, Red, and Yellow for the Stars.

Step Two: So, using your photo or your imagination as your guide, grab your sponge and dip it in your water.  I swear I have dozens of paintbrushes, though you wouldn’t know it from my last two posts.   We used palette knives in my post, Acrylic Ocean Painting, and now we’re using sponges. If you think about it, it just goes to show anything can make Art.(And anything can be Art. I found that out at the Centre Pompidou in Paris when my daughter pointed out that a urinal signed by the artist Marcel Duchamp is actually considered Art.)  You don’t need fancy equipment. (but that does make for lovely birthday and Christmas lists)

Keep on Swirling!

Don’t be afraid to swirl your sponge around and blend colors together because you can just keep adding layers upon layers until you get the effect you like. The Universe is vast and everything you paint is probably out there.  There’s no wrong way to do it. Just keep going back and forth between the White, Violet, and Blue. If you get an effect you like and don’t want to mess it up, let it dry for about 10 minutes before going over it again. That way when you paint on top of it, it doesn’t accidentally get ruined.  Using the corner of the sponge, keep adding colors letting them blend together.  

One of the disadvantages of being outdoors when it is warm out is that your paint will dry fairly quickly.  There are additives you can add but I prefer to just use small amounts of paint on my palette at a time. In this situation layers are your friend and the quicker it dries the more you can add.  Just keep adding the white, purple, blue and pink clouds until you get the effect you want. You’ll get a feel for it as you go.  The drier the sponge, the sharper the details.  The wetter, the more blendy.

Get Ready to be Speckled!

I just found this video on YouTube.  Cinnamon Cooney, TheArtSherpa has the perfect video showing all the techniques and effects of Splatter Painting Stars.  I wish I had watched her first. I always end up with more paint on my face than canvas with the toothbrush method. And look, tap two brushes, not my poor wrist. Mind Blown!

How to Splatter Stars Better in Acrylic Paint Tips and Tricks by Cinnamon Cooney, TheArtSherpa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQUmNielwrw

Step Three: Time for some splatter painting to make your star field. How to explain splatter painting? It took me a while to get the hang of it, and now it’s the most fun part of the process. In its simplest form, you dip your brush into thin paint then strike down onto the index finger of your opposite hand (or wrist when that starts to hurt) towards the painting. You can play with the consistency to see what different effects you get.  Just keep dipping and tapping all over your canvas until you’re happy or run out of canvas. Word to the wise, you will be covered in tiny dots when you are through. Enjoy.

Step Four: Sponge on some black here and there when you are happy with your star field. It helps break up the clouds and makes it look like you are peeking at the Universe beyond.  I find adding black down the outside edges and down the middle gives it a nice Milky Way sort of look if that’s what you’re going for. Check your reference photo if you like and see where you want the darker bits.

Step Five: Time for one last round of star splatters.  You can also paint the sides completely black and then spatter some stars on it (because it’s fun). It gives you that peering off the edge of the Universe kind of feeling. Then, if you like, make some star shines using the bottom of the brush or a toothpick. Just make a larger white dot and run a cross through it.  

That’s it, you’re done! Now sign it and hang it up. Time to go outside and look at the stars!

Great job!


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Create a Beautiful Acrylic Ocean in 5 Easy Steps

Finished Acrylic Ocean Painting

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just want to add a pop of color to a space and not spend a fortune doing it. This is one of those times. This fun little Acrylic Ocean Painting can be done in any color you like using as many or as few colors as your little heart desires.

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

Okay, first you’re going to gather your supplies. Everything you see here can be purchased at your favorite hobby and craft store, Big Box store or Dollar store. The beauty of Acrylic painting is that it requires very little expense to get started.

Acrylic Painting Supplies


You will need White (I’m using Master’s Touch Titanium White) and at least 3 Colors from Dark to Light. I’m using a Liquitex Basics Permanent Blue, Liquitex Basics Cobalt Blue Hue and Artist’s Loft Turquoise. You can pick whatever brand you like. As you can see I use all the Acrylic Brands I can find on sale. I have never once paid full price for paint. I’m patient and wait for the sales (and the lovely 40% off coupon)

Instead of brushes, we’ll be using knives. You can use a Palette knife or Butter knife or a combination if you wish.

The canvas is just a common cotton canvas. This one is a 9×13, but they come in a variety of sizes. Just pick the one that’s right for you.

I do try to keep the mess to a minimum, so I put newspaper underneath. Yes, I still read the newspaper. It is acrylic, so it does wash off nicely. Just don’t let it dry on your clothes or it’ll never come out.

Don’t forget, what I’m showing you is just a template. You can choose any color combination you like, oranges and reds for a sunset look, purples and blues for twilight, pinks and greens just because. I’m using turquoise at the bottom for water, the medium blue at the top for sky. I think this gives it more of a sunny, beachy day sort of look. You are only limited by your imagination.

Add your other colors however you like, whatever you feel is pleasing.

Step Two: Apply Lines of Acrylic Paint

So now its time to squeeze out your colors. Your darkest color is the horizon line. Place it one-third down from the top for more focus on the water, two-thirds down for more focus on the sky. The rule of thirds says that it looks nicer this way. (I think its more of a suggestion than a rule) You can be a rebel and go straight across the center if you like, I won’t tell.

Less paint
More paint

Now I used a lot of paint on this one. You don’t have to use as much. I wanted to give it a nice, chunky textured feel. But if you wanted to try a smoother one (I’ll try that one next to show you the difference) just add less paint. Remember, it’s your space and you can create it however you wish.

Step Three: Smoosh the Colors

Acrylic Painting with Palette Knife

Okay, now you take the knife of your choice and you are going to smoosh the colors (yes, I believe that is a technical term) Right to left, left to right, add some swirls and waves. Make sure you make one swipe across your darker color all the way across to create a nice horizon line. This is your chance to let out your inner Van Gogh and Gogh crazy. You do you.

The sides can be painted if you like. Therefore, you can leave them partially painted for a looser, more painterly look or you can even paint the sides a solid color like black or one of the blues as well. You can decide as you go.

Palette Knife Effects

As you can see, the butter knife makes some nice wavy textures with the ridges. However, if you don’t want that effect, just lay the knife flat and you will get a smooth look. You get some great effects by combining both.

Also, try not to over mix the colors if you can help it. (I never know when to say enough is enough) You want to keep the integrity of the colors. Keep it painterly, as it is called. The key to Abstract Acrylic Art is not to over do.

Step Four (Optional): Add More Color

Adding More White

I thought I’d add a little more white at the top for poofy clouds (another technical term) and at the bottom so you can get that wave crashing into the beach effect.

Step Five: Let it Dry

Because the paint is so thick, it’s going to take it a while to dry. I would give it a full 24 hours before adding any little details like seagulls or a ship on the horizon, whatever you’re in the mood for. Or you can just leave it the way it is, you’re the boss.

Comparison of More Acrylic paint on left to Less on right

I painted a second one with the exact same tools and exact same colors just less paint, to show you the difference.

As you can see Acrylic Painting is a quick, fun way to change up your decor for very little time and money. The best part is, if you get tired of this color, paint the whole thing white and do it again using a different set of colors.

Now’s the time to hang it up and start on your next one! Thank you for painting along with me. See you soon!


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