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Is Acrylic Paint Good for Beginners? (The Answer Is Yes)

Subhan Saeed

So you’ve decided to start your painting journey. Maybe you’ve focused on digital art or sculptures in the past, or you’ve never attempted art at all. What should you start with? 

Acrylic paint is a great option for beginners, but many people feel intimidated by it. It’s opaque, heavy, and easy to mess up. Why would you jump right into acrylics when you have no experience? 

In reality, acrylic painting is easier than it seems once you have the basics down. It’s a good starting point that can lead you to more advanced forms of painting (or you can stick with it for a lifetime).

Not sure if it’s right for you? Keep reading to learn all about acrylic paint and why it’s a great choice for painting newbies. 

First: What Is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint. It’s been commercially available for artists since the 1950s. Before acrylic pant was common, many people used oil paint instead. Oil paint creates beautiful paintings, but it’s harder to work with, so it made the idea of painting unappealing to newbies. 

Acrylic paint breaks down into a pigment, a binder, and a vehicle. 

The pigment is the color that goes into the paint. All paint colors start with a combination of pigments. They’re tiny particles that are either natural or synthetic, and they stay suspended in the paint.

The binder is an acrylic polymer. It’s what keeps the pigment on the surface after the paint dries. This way, pigment doesn’t come off onto the artist’s fingers (or elsewhere). 

Water provides the vehicle for the pigment and the binder. All of these things combine into the liquid paint that you see in tubes and bottles every day. 

Benefits of Acrylic Paint for Beginners

So why is acrylic paint so good for beginners?

Keep in mind that every painter is going to have a preference. It’s possible that you have a natural affinity for oil paint or watercolor, but acrylic is a great starting point that gives you the flexibility to understand what you like and move on to other mediums accordingly. 

In case you need more convincing, here are a few common benefits of choosing acrylic paint as your first medium. 

It’s Scalable

Acrylic paint is so nice because you’re able to move with it. In other words, it’s scalable, which makes it easy for you to improve and try new things as you get more comfortable. 

You can start with “lower-quality” paints if you’re brand new. These paints are often affordable and available at many craft or “big box” stores in your local area. They’re great for anyone who isn’t sure as to whether or not they’re ready to start painting. 

Once you know the basics, you can move on to nicer paints. A nice acrylic paint kit will open your art up to new possibilities. You’ll be able to have stronger pigments and better “flow” than you did with your cheap set. 

Your paint grows with you. 

It’s Flexible

Acrylic painting opens you up to a wide variety of projects and activities. Whether you want to paint pottery, create fun craft projects, or paint masterpieces, you can do all of these things with acrylic paint. 

You can do acrylic pour projects, simple and child-friendly projects, and more. 

Beyond the variety of projects that you can complete with acrylic paint, you can also use it in a variety of ways. Acrylic paints take some getting used to, but you can learn how to layer them and make them less opaque to create in-depth pieces that resemble oil paintings or even watercolor. 

You could also lay them on thick and create textured paintings. Whatever you want to do, you can try it with acrylics. 

It Dries Fast (Unless You Don’t Want It To)

This is somewhat of a double-edged sword, but for beginners, it’s a good thing.

Acrylic paint dries in minutes. This makes it great for quick projects, painting in public, and fixing mistakes. It also allows you to paint without smudging anything when you don’t know how to smudge with intention.

Oil paint is different. A good oil painting can take weeks or more because oils take a long time to dry down. The benefit of this is that you can get better layers, but it’s frustrating for new artists. 

If, however, you’re getting frustrated with your paint drying quickly, you can use a medium to make it slow down. 

It’s Easy to Mix

Mixing acrylic paint is a breeze once you get the hang of it. All new painters struggle to mix paint because they have a hard time conceptualizing the colors that will result from their mixing, but with a bit of practice, you’ll find that you can mix acrylics with ease.

Use a bit of water or mixing medium. Don’t be afraid to add more colors until you have the perfect hue. Remember, you can’t undo adding black or white, so use those sparingly. 

It Works on Many Surfaces

Acrylic paint is great regardless of the surface that you’re using. As long as the surface is sturdy, you can try to paint on it.

Keep in mind that some surfaces are better than others. Canvases and canvas boards are going to be best for beginners because they hold paint well. You can move onto wood or create your own canvases once you have the hang of the process. 

You can use acrylic paint on canvas and even on thicker paper. Thin paper isn’t ideal for acrylic paint because you might bleed through or weigh down the surface. 

You Don’t Need Extra Supplies

The biggest problem with oil paint when it comes to new painters is that you need a lot of extra supplies. These supplies can be expensive and cumbersome, as well as hard to dispose of.

You’re going to need linseed oil, a paint thinning product, and carrier oils. You’ll need brushes that can stand up to oil paint. You can’t put any of the liquid products down the drain, so disposal is complicated. 

When it comes to acrylic paint, you need simple paintbrushes, paint, and water. Sure, you can get other mediums later on, but you can start with the basics. 

While you shouldn’t wash acrylics down the drain, they’re easy to peel off of palettes so you can throw them away. 

Acrylic Painting Tips

So are you getting ready to start your acrylic painting journey?

Keep in mind that painting doesn’t come naturally to most people. It’s normal to get frustrated, and even want to give up before you even get started. You should prepare for a trial-and-error process.

That said, these tips should help set you off on the right track. 

Practice Makes Perfect

First and foremost, you can’t get better without practicing. If you’re someone who wants to quit when they’re not good at something, you need to resist this urge.

You should paint as often as possible. Even if you’re only painting a single line or doing a simple geometric painting, you’re learning. It might not feel like progress, but when you compare your new work to your old work, you’ll see a huge difference. 

Start With Cheaper Surfaces

There’s nothing wrong with starting with affordable surfaces. An all-purpose sketchbook with thick paper can stand up to thin layers of acrylic paint. You can often get affordable multi-packs of canvas boards from craft stores. 

You’re not trying to paint masterpieces at first. You’re keeping it simple, and simplicity can be on affordable surfaces. Bonus: when you’re starting off with affordable surfaces, you won’t feel bad when you “waste” them or paint over them. 

Learn From Others 

Most people need guidance when they’re trying to learn a new skill. Learn from people who know more than you and you’ll find that you’ll be able to advance more quickly. 

If you can, try to take an acrylic painting class at a local college. You can also follow YouTube tutorials that break down the process. 

Have you ever seen people sketching or taking notes in art museums? They do this because they’re learning from masters. You can do the same. 

Paint “Freely”

Many new artists try to make things too complicated. Then, they get burnt out. 

When you start, don’t be afraid to paint freely. Consider how children paint while they’re in school. They use big shapes, fun lines, and even their hands to make things that they enjoy (even if they aren’t “perfect”). 

Don’t get caught up in intricate drawings. When you break things down into colors, light, and shadows, you’ll discover that you end up with better paintings and have more fun. 

Start Your Painting Journey with Acrylic Paint

With all of this in mind, it’s time to grab the best acrylic paint kit and get to work. Armed with canvases, water, and paintbrushes, you’ll be well on your way to making artwork that’s both fun and beautiful. Painting is a freeing and relaxing hobby that will allow you to express yourself in a whole new way.

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