Acrylic Painting Techniques: 17 Fun Ways to Use Acrylic Paint | Alice Ladkin | Skillshare

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Acrylic Painting Techniques: 17 Fun Ways to Use Acrylic Paint

teacher avatar Alice Ladkin, Art Tutorials | Art Business Tips

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Smooth Blending


    • 3.

      Scumbling Technique


    • 4.

      Splattering Paint


    • 5.

      Paint Drips


    • 6.

      Cling Film Technique


    • 7.

      Scraping Paint


    • 8.

      Low-Tack Tape


    • 9.

      Using a Roller


    • 10.

      Sponge Painting


    • 11.

      Toothbrush Flicks


    • 12.

      Using a Straw


    • 13.

      Using a Palette Knife


    • 14.

      Scratching Technique


    • 15.

      Impasto Painting


    • 16.

      Acrylic Painting Pens


    • 17.

      Using Inks


    • 18.

      Paper Towel Collage


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About This Class

17 fun and creative ways I love to use acrylic paint!

Who is this class for?

Beginners, hobby artists, as well as those wanting to sell their art professionally. Particularly suited to mixed media artists and those interested in abstract painting and mark making.

What does this class cover?

  • 17 ways to use acrylic paint in your art
  • Variety of mark making ideas
  • Ways to create more texture in your art
  • Acrylic painting techniques that only require paint, a paintbrush and water
  • How to create unique textures using things you likely have in your home
  • Creative ways I like to use acrylic paint that require some additional materials

Meet Your Teacher

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Alice Ladkin

Art Tutorials | Art Business Tips


Hey! I'm Alice Ladkin, and I've been a professional artist since 2012. I spent nearly a decade taking commissions for realistic coloured pencil drawings, then had a baby and everything changed. I wanted to create art from my soul that truly felt like me, and in 2022 I completely rebranded my business. I now create bold, fun and quirky art and products with a sprinkle of sass.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi guys. My name is Alice Ladkin and I'm a mixed media artist. I think that acrylic paint is awesome. It's bright, it's colorful, it's versatile. You can easily paint over it. In this class, I'm going to share 17 really cool techniques that you can use in your own work using acrylic paint. The aim of this class is to have lots of fun, explore, experiment, and hopefully it gives you lots of inspiration and the possibilities are literally endless. I'm going to show you some really cool things you can do with just water paint and a paintbrush to show you some fun things to do with things just lying around your house. And I'm going to show you some amazing ways that I like to use acrylic paint that do require extra materials. If you have any questions at all about this class, please feel free to message me or email me or reach out on social media. 2. Smooth Blending: The first technique I'm going to show you is smooth blending. I like to use a minimum of two to three colors. This is really great for sky, sunsets, things like that. I'm putting my paint straight onto the canvas. You can mix your paint up on a palette, but I highly recommend blending them together on the actual canvas. Something to note here, you don't need to use a canvas. You can use any paper suitable for acrylics. My favorite paper is watercolor paper. You can use panels, wood, glass, whatever your preference. I'm just using Canvas for the purpose of this class. So whenever you hear me say Canvas, just replace that word with whatever you're using. So you could just literally leave it like that. That's quite a nice effect. But if you're looking for more of a smooth, blended consistency, just keep going with your brush. The brush I'm using is really soft, not too wet. I haven't added any water. I've also not added any water to the paint which helps to achieve a smooth, even consistency. If you're going for more of a wash effect, feel free to water this down. You can experiment with using different amounts of water. Acrylic dries quite quickly, so it helps to use a decent amount of paint and do this as quick as you can. I'm using side-to-side brushstrokes then going one way. Paint is designed to be moved and pushed around. So do whatever strokes and marks you want to, to get the results you want. Now I'm going in here with another soft, completely dry brush to get things super smooth and blended. And there we have it. Lovely smooth blending. 3. Scumbling Technique : This technique is called dry brushing or scumbling. You'll need a totally dry brush and some paint, no water whatsoever. So if you have just cleaned your brush, wait for it to fully dry first. This will only work if there's no water whatsoever. Mix your paint up on your palette - again, add no water even to the paint. And then just basically rub your brush over your Canvas. You can get different effects depending on how much paint you use and how hard you press the brush onto the surface. You can also use dry brushing to glaze over an area and lighten or soften it. You can use different amounts of paint and different amounts of pressure to get different effects. You might notice I'm not holding my paint brush like I would hold a pencil. This is the beauty of painting. Experiment, holding your brush in various ways to create interesting marks and effects. Here's a close up of what it looks like on Canvas. Something important to mention here, this might mess up your brushes a little bit, so clean them straight away and shape them back to their original shape as quickly as possible. Because scumbling it does, like I said, mess up your brushes a little bit, so just make sure you clean them straight away. 4. Splattering Paint: Splattering paint is a really fun technique. It can get messy. So protect your floors, walls, and surrounding area. You can either flick the paint off the brush by just flicking your wrist or you can tap the handle of the brush against your other hand or an object to create different marks. I usually mix up the colors I want on my palette and then add some water. The more water you add, the more transparent the paint splatters will be. If you want the splatters to really stand out, try mixing a tiny amount of water into your paint. I personally love how random and unpredictable these marks are and how I never know how things are going to turn out. 5. Paint Drips: The next technique is paint drips. You can do this just literally with water and paint, but I highly recommend getting a spray bottle. This cost me a pound and they're not expensive. They're an amazing tool to have in your art studio. So before you do anything like you can see I'm doing here, make sure you have something that will catch the drips. I have a waterproof sheet underneath a fabric sheet, and then I'm using the sheets of paper towel to take most of the drips, use whatever you can and make sure it's sufficient to collect the amount of water that you'll be using. You can do this on paper. You obviously need thick paper that can handle the amount of water. And I recommend taping it to a board with low tack masking tape or something similar and not creating drips on paper that's still in the pad as this will ruin all the remaining sheets of paper. You can either put the water on first and paint into it or put the paint on and then spray water onto it, then just move it around. As I've mentioned before, paint is made to be moved around, so have fun with it. This technique is definitely one of my favorites. 6. Cling Film Technique: If like me, you have some cling film lying around your house that you can use it to create really cool effects. This one is pretty new to me. I actually messed up my first attempt, but I'm keeping my first attempt in here so you can see how I fixed it. This technique works best on a white surface. The most important thing to get right here is the consistency of the paint and the ratio of water to paint. You want it nice and smooth, fairly thick and wet, but not too wet. So here I actually made the mistake of making the paint too wet. And now I'm going in with a paper towel to get rid of the excess and then I'm going to start again. So you want the paint wet enough so that it doesn't dry before you use the cling film, but not too wet. So here I've just thickened up the paint a little bit. And I'm doing this quite quickly because acrylic paint, it does dry pretty quick. So I've got my square of cling film and I'm just pressing the cling film into the paint and I'm making lots of little peaks. So the more peaks you make, the more textured the effect will be. This kind of reminds me of water or denim. You don't really need to wait that long before peeling it off. And now as you can see, it's created a really cool effect. 7. Scraping Paint: This technique is pretty self-explanatory. It's scraping paint. You can do this using a piece of cardboard like I'm doing here, using an old credit or gift card, anything you like and have lying around your house. Put the paint directly onto your surface and like the Technique suggests, scrape it around. You can play about with this one and to make lots of different marks here, I'm just scraping one color over the other. You can even scrape two or more colors next to each other at the same time for a rainbow effect. 8. Low-Tack Tape: This technique is amazing for whenever you need a straight line, use low tack masking tape for this, regular masking tape may be fine on some surfaces but can damage the surface, especially if you're painting on paper. I got mine cheaply at an art store. Literally just apply the tape wherever you need to and paint. I use this when painting straight lines for an abstract background, the horizon lines when I'm painting a landscape, and I also use it to secure my paper paintings to a board so when I'm finished and pull the tape off, I have a white border around my paintings. Peeling the tape off gently at a 90 degree right angle helps if you're using paper and you should have a straight line. I would usually wait for the paint to dry first, especially if I've mixed it with lots of water, otherwise the paint may move. I've only just taken it off straight away of the purpose of this tutorial. 9. Using a Roller: Using a roller is really fun. I got mine for about £1.50 at an art store. I sometimes use the roller to make circles like I'm doing here by just dipping the roller into a circle of paint. If you want even coverage, spread the paint out on your palette and roll the roller over the paint so the whole surface of it is completely covered. I love using the roller for texture, especially in my abstract backgrounds. A cool idea is try wrapping an elastic band around your roller to create an interesting pattern. Here, I've wrapped it around a couple of times and I love the effect it has created, almost like tyre tracks. And definitely don't forget to clean your roller straight away after you have finished using it so the paint doesn't dry and you can use it again. 10. Sponge Painting: A sponge is a fun way to create a new texture. You can buy sponges cheaply at an art store and even at the supermarket. Make sure you clean them thoroughly after each use so the paint doesn't dry it on the sponge and you can use them again. Press the sponge into the paint, either on your palette or put paint straight onto the canvas first, and start creating texture. Move it around, make different marks. Use just a bit of the sponge or cover the whole sponge with paint. I like using the sponge with paint I haven't thinned down much with water to create an interesting thick texture on the canvas. 11. Toothbrush Flicks: Unfortunately, you can't reuse your toothbrush after this technique. So it's best to buy one just for your art or or use an old toothbrush. Mix up some paint, add a tiny bit of water if needed to create a smooth consistency, - again, add too much and the paint becomes more transparent. Load up your toothbrush evenly and flick the bristles over the surface to create a misty, dusty effect. This works great to create depth as it gives a galaxy space look, and it also works really nicely as a finishing touch. This works best when the paint has a smooth consistency, there's not too much water added and the flicks are slower and more controlled. I'm not using a short quick flicks here. I'm gently running my finger over the bristles. This one can get messy. So protect your walls and floors from paint flicks if you need to. Make sure as well to clean your brush at the end so you can use it again. 12. Using a Straw: I absolutely love this technique. You won't be getting paint on the straw so you can keep using afterwards. Mix your paint with some water so it's moveable on the Canvas. Make sure the consistency of the paint is smooth and not too watery. Bear in mind, the more water you add, the more transparent the color will be. Blow down the straw to force the paint to move across your surface. Guide the movement using long controlled breaths and create a different effect with short and sharp breaths. 13. Using a Palette Knife : You probably don't have one of these just lying around your house, but they are an awesome tool to have in your art studio. I only own one of them. You can buy palette knives in lots of different sizes and shapes. I'm just going to show you what I do with mine. So you can put some paint on the end on the bottom of your knife and then just paint little circles outwards. You can also just scrape paint across the surface using the bottom or the side of the knife. I also sometimes use the side of the knife to make straight lines by only putting paint on one side. Another really cool idea is scrape two or more colors together using your knife. Annoyingly, it didn't film my first attempt but I'm going to show you again here. Put how many colors you want together on the canvas or preload them onto your knife, whichever you prefer, and then simply scrape them across the surface. 14. Scratching Technique: I haven't included this in the palette knife video because you don't need to use a palette knife. I just use it because I have one and I liked the effect it creates. Acrylic paint dries fast. You will need to do this technique quickly, so keep whatever you're going to use close by. Before I got my palette knife, I used to use the corner of a piece of card. Put your paint down, then literally just draw lines, shapes, scribbles, whatever you want, into the paint to reveal the color underneath. This works best when the color underneath is much darker or much lighter than the color on top. 15. Impasto Painting: This technique is great if you love thick paint and enjoy impasto painting techniques, I find thick paint really satisfying. I love creating art I want to touch and this definitely helps to add intrigue and interest. You'll need an acrylic medium that thickens your paint. I use heavy structure gel from Winsor and Newton. It doesn't alter the color of my paint in any way. So simply mix as much of this with the paint as you want and get painting. Don't add any water whatsoever when using this technique. You can apply using a paintbrush or a palette knife or even your fingers if you like. I'll keep saying it: There are no rules! 16. Acrylic Painting Pens: Posca pens are awesome! If you didn't have any of these already, I highly recommend getting some, just get a couple if that's all you can afford. I usually buy these when they're on offer. They're worth it to be honest anyway at full price. They're amazing for details, scribbles, blocking color and making fun marks. These acrylic pens come with different sizes of nibs. You activate the paint by shaking the pen and pressing the nib down once or twice until the paint slowly comes down into the end. So when using it, don't press down like you did to activate the paint or loads of paint will come out and you'll end up making a big mess. I've done that a couple of times. I always shake my pens before each use because the paint can dry a little bit. They come in lots of different colors, sizes, and all the ones I've tried are really bright and opaque. Like with any acrylic paintings, you do need to vanish work made using posca pens if you want to preserve it and sell it. 17. Using Inks: Acrylic inks are a really fun addition to your art supplies. I bought pearlescent ones. You don't have to get these ones. I just really like shiny stuff. I use my acrylic inks to draw with just using the pipette and I like making drops and splashes by dripping it from different heights onto the canvas. I also sometimes use my palette knife to scrape it around. You can also use your inks as a nice acrylic wash too, if you'd like that effect. 18. Paper Towel Collage: So I absolutely love the random abstracts I create on my paper towels when I'm painting. And so I thought, why don't I include these in my actual art? Technically this is collage, but it is incorporating acrylic paint and it is super fun so I thought I'd share with you. It's also really easy to do. So you'll need matte medium. I use matte medium from golden. This is the adhesive and it is archival. Tear roughly a hand size of paper towel. This size makes it easier to work with. Generously - and I mean, generously, don't skimp out here - apply the matt medium to your surface, then press down the paper towel. I should mention here the towel is completely dry. Then apply more matte medium over the top. If there's not enough medium underneath, the paper towel will not stick properly. Make sure you press it down flat and press it down enough so you don't get any bubbles or parts raising up. The matte medium will dry clear and this collage technique creates a really intriguing texture and surface.