That splish-splash-splatter and there you have it- an acrylic painting masterpiece. Well that magic lies with professional artists but it can be yours- just spend some time with your art. To top it up, consume acrylic painting ideas and inspiration like oxygen. 
Hold up! Get off your surfboard. This handbook runs whole nine yards and serves you everything you need to know on how to paint with acrylics. To make the deal sweeter, we bring you artwork by budding artists, authentic information on the topic and handy hacks for working with acrylic paints.  

What are Acrylic Paints? 

Acrylics Painting by eugenegarts

Image credit: eugenegarts

Are you absolutely sure about using acrylic paints for your next project? What makes you so sure that acrylics are better than oils, watercolour, or gouache? If you aren’t sure, here is an intro to what acrylic paint is and what makes it unique. 
As an artist, you have tons of different options to choose from- different mediums, colours, techniques, canvasses, approaches, style, etc. In such a diverse market, it is only logical, to begin with, the fundamentals.  
Acrylic paints are opaque, water-based, dilutable colours. They have a thick consistency that can be thinned by dissolving in water. The polymer binders in these colours result in their thick consistency, enhance vibrancy, fast-drying nature, and colour-layer up efficiency. 
Compared to other mediums, acrylic paints dry quicker, are non-toxic, have less odour, inexpensive, and are much brighter due to their high-quality pigment. Thus, working with acrylics is fun because you can easily:

  • layer colour one on top of the other
  • have a brighter, more vibrant finish
  • paint better with fast-drying colours
  • cherish your art because of their water-resistant quality

Compare to gouache or watercolour, acrylic paints give a good texture and dimension. Because it dries so beautifully, all acrylic painting ideas come to life more in a much defined and textured fashion. However, they tend to dry a darker hue with a more glossy finish.
This showdown of acrylics vs gouache vs watercolour makes the comparison clearer, making it easier for you to understand. 

Comparison of acrylics vs gouache vs watercolour

Acrylic Painting Essentials 

Acrylic Painting by AmeTist-Artz

Image credit: AmeTist Artz


If you have made up your mind to paint with acrylics, here are the absolute essentials you ought to gather: 

  • Acrylic paints and brushes 
  • A paint palette 
  • Blending knife 
  • Canvas (optional)
  • Easel 
  • Water 

After you learn and move ahead from learning beginner-level acrylic painting it is time to tap into diverse acrylic painting techniques. With each different technique, a distinct supply comes to use. For example, a paper towel for dabbing and a sponge for sponging. Ergo, apart from the essentials of acrylic painting, you may need additional supplies too.   
You would have noticed that we have mentioned that it is optional for you to use a canvas as a base for acrylic painting. This is so because you can use paint with acrylics on endless surfaces. These include wood, glass, fabrics, metal, paper, cardboard, silk, etc.  
Let us begin with the basics. 

Acrylic Paints and Brushes

Acrylic Painting by LeonoraGalerie

Image credit: LeonoraGalerie

Going for supplies shopping? Don’t let the many options boggle you. Because paints and brushes are quintessential, here is what you will be looking at. 
You may choose from either student-grade acrylic paint or professional-grade acrylics. As per your creative calling, and intensity of use, you can pick up either a 24 or 36-piece paint set. For your reference, here are top brands you can trust:

  • Blick Studio Acrylic Paint
  • Arteza Acrylic Paint
  • M. Graham Artists' Acrylics
  • Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics

If you are just starting out, you may stick to a student-grade acrylic paint set because it is comparatively cheaper. Just a heads out, you can pick out individual tubes of colours (black or white) you think you may need more.
Don’t think too much about which acrylic brush to buy. Just put these basics in your cart:

  • Flat acrylic brush 
  • Round acrylic brush 
  • Liner acrylic brush 
  • Fan acrylic brush 
  • Angled acrylic brush 

Apart from this, working with acrylics can be a bit messy (especially if you use the splash technique for acrylic abstract painting). For these times, keep a paper towel, duster, gloves, soap and water handy. 

Acrylic Painting Ideas for Beginners

Artists who paint with acrylics create the most diverse artwork. This is the reason why acrylic paint medium, although fairly modern (developed in the 1940s), is the most versatile and highly utilised.
But, as a beginner, you can find it daunting to find a style. To speed up the process look up acrylic painting ideas and inspiration. Because we know that inspiration is everywhere, we have taken the liberty to bring all of it to your screen. Browse through these fabulous artworks by acrylic artists.

Acrylic Painting by Pamela Marie T

Image credit: Pamela Marie T

Acrylic painting by Pamela Marie T

Image credit: Pamela Marie T

Acrylic painting by art9sense

Image credit: art9sense

Acrylic painting by art9sense

Image credit: art9sense

Acrylic painting by art9sense

Image credit: art9sense

Acrylic painting by eugenegarts

Image credit: eugenegarts

If you wish to take some more inspiration and ideas to draw, join the buzzing painter's community on Kool Stories. Share your ideas via audios and video in a supportive learning ambience. Get noticed and upscale your brand within talented skill communities of like-minded people at Kool Stories. 

Frequently Asked Queries

If you are just beginning out with acrylic painting, here is a list of the easiest things to draw:

1.Flowers
2.Branches
3.Still life
4.Silhouettes
5.Abstract design

Yes, you can paint directly on canvas with acrylic paint. This versatility of acrylic colours is what makes it a preferred medium among the art community.

Once it dries out acrylic paint is permanent.

Gesso is a primer, traditionally made for oil painting, applied to a surface to make it more color absorbent. If you are using acrylic paint on a surface other than canvas, you can apply a thin layer or coating of gesso. However, the canvas from art stores comes pre-primed with gesso.

When wet acrylic paint can be washed off but once it dries out it becomes difficult to remove acrylic paint.