Let's Play with Acrylic Paint! -Tools and Materials | Bonnie Lecat | Skillshare

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Let's Play with Acrylic Paint! -Tools and Materials

teacher avatar Bonnie Lecat, illustrator, designer, teacher

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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

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About This Class

About the class:

Have you been wanting to try acrylic paints but are confused about what type of paints, brushes, and supplies to buy?

In this beginner level class, you’ll learn everything you need to know to purchase the supplies you need so that you can start painting with acrylics. No more wandering through the art store being completely overwhelmed by all the choices!

When you’ve completed the class, you will have an understanding of all of the basic acrylic painting supplies; paints, brushes, supports, palettes, glazes, mediums and more!

This class is for anyone who wants to start using acrylic paints and put together a toolkit without breaking the bank or wasting money buying unnecessary supplies. 


  • PAINTS: Learn about the different types of acrylic paints and what you need to purchase to start painting with them.
  • GLAZES AND MEDIUMS: Learn about glazes, additives, and mediums so you know what you need and what you don’t need to use to get started painting with acrylics.
  • BRUSHES: Learn how to choose the best brushes to use for acrylic paints, why it matters, and how to use and care for them.
  • SUPPORTS: Learn what types of supports, such as canvas, wood, and paper, are best suited for  acrylic paint.
  • PALETTES AND MORE: Learn the different types of palettes you can use when painting with acrylics plus some other misc equipment and supplies for beginning acrylic painters.
  • CLASS PROJECT: Complete some simple exercises that will get you familiar with your new tools.

I hope to see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Bonnie Lecat

illustrator, designer, teacher



I'm Bonnie Lecat. I'm an artist, teacher, lifelong learner, and former accordion player. Most of the time you can find me sitting in my studio in the northern suburbs of Chicago listening to music and painting, sketching, or designing. I love all things creative and have been fortunate to have had many interesting jobs as a professional artist. I've designed album covers, sales displays, toys that come in cereal boxes, and more for marketing agencies. I've created characters and logos for advertising agencies. I've even painted ceiling and portrait murals in restaurants and retail stores.

Currently, I'm focusing my creative efforts on building an illustration portfolio and cr... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. INTRODUCTION: Have you been thinking about painting with acrylics but are confused about what paints and supplies you'll need? Have you wanted to take some classes here on Skillshare, but you don't really have the stuff? Well, if you're ready to try painting with acrylics and you want to know what to buy, where to buy it, and how to use it, you've come to the right place. This is, Let's Play with Acrylic Paints! Tools and Materials. I'm Bonnie Lacorte. I'm an artist, illustrator, designer and teacher here on Skillshare. This is my fifth Skillshare class. Three of my classes involve using acrylic paints. In one of them I teach how to paint sunflowers, another one I teach how to paint roses. I have a third class that also uses acrylics and it teaches you how to paint a celestial night sky and make zodiac wall hanging. My last class is about how to build an Etsy shop. During this class, I'm going to teach you everything you need to put together a basic acrylic painting toolkit. Here's what I'll be covering in class. First off, I'm going to talk about paints. I'm going to talk about the different types of acrylic paints and the types that I recommend you start with. I'm going to cover some of the most common questions that students have in regards to acrylic paints about color, performance, cost, and quality. I'll also be going over glazes, mediums, and top coats. I'm going to tell you what you need to buy and what you don't need to buy, as well as how and when to use each of these materials. I'm going to teach you the best brushes to use for acrylic paints, why it matters and how to use and properly care for them. We're also going to talk about the types of supports that are best for acrylic paintings such as wood, canvas and paper and when and why to use each. Finally, I'm going to talk a little bit about different types of pallets and some miscellaneous supplies that you might want to add to your toolkit. I'll take the mystery and confusion out of purchasing acrylic paints and supplies and by the end of the class, you'll know just what you need to buy to put together with very own artist's toolkit. This class is a great first step on your acrylic painting journey and will help prepare you for any other painting classes you want to take. As a bonus, with this class, I've included a free downloadable resource guide and workbook that has a list of every single supply you'll need to put together your toolkit. It also is filled with a few very simple exercises so that you can get started using and understanding and being comfortable with your new supplies right away. The class project is going to be to purchase your supplies and then do these exercises and take a picture of them and share them in the class project area. If you are ready to put together a basic acrylic painting supply kit and start playing with acrylic paints, let's get started. I'll see you in the next video. 2. PAINTS: What is acrylic paint? Acrylic paint is a combination of acrylic polymer emulsion and pigment, which is the color. It's fast drying, water-soluble, affordable and durable. It's a wonderful medium for beginning painters. There are many different types of acrylic paints on the market and it can be really confusing to know what to buy. Here's an overview of the different types of acrylic paints that are on the market. Think about what and how you want to paint along with your budget and goals, and then choose accordingly. First off, there's craft paint. Craft paints, widely available and super affordable. It can be purchased in small bottles in as a great choice to use for craft projects. I have craft paints on hand to use for crafting. But when it comes to making artwork, these paints are not the best choice. They're cheap because they don't contain much pigment and are mostly made of fillers, which makes mixing colors very difficult. You'll often end up with muddy colors. That's why they're available in such a wide array of pre-mixed colors. Trying to mix them when you're painting will produce unprofessional looking artwork. They do have their purpose for sure. Just don't use them for your art. Next up, there is Student Grade Acrylics. Now student Grade acrylics are a definite step up from craft paints in quality. They're made by the same companies that produce artist quality paints, but are designed to be more affordable because they don't contain the same amount of pigment in each color. They are great to start a practice with because they are the same exact colors you'll find in a higher-quality before a much cheaper price. The lower price will take some of the fear about wasting paint out of the equation, when you're just learning how to use acrylics or practicing and then when you're ready to invest in artist grade paints, you'll know exactly what colors you want to buy. Next up, artist quality acrylics, which are the professional quality paints. When you're ready to commit to a regular painting practice or want to make artwork professionally. You will need to invest in artist quality paints to get better and more professional looking results. These paints are the best quality paints that you can buy or use. They're priced based on the pigment used in each color. So prices will vary depending on the color you buy. They are vibrant in color and available in a few different consistencies, such as heavy body, fluid or soft body, high flow and open. I recommend choosing either heavy body or fluid acrylics in a set of primary colors to get you started. Buying sets is not only economical, but it also helps you learn how to mix colors when when. Truly either type is great and you can get similar effects with either. You really can't make a wrong decision here. But let's discuss some of the differences in these two types to make it easier for you to choose. First, let's talk about fluid acrylics. Not only do fluid acrylics have a creamy or consistency than heavy body paints but the color is also more intense because there's more pigment in the paint. You can also add different mediums and gels to fluid acrylics, if you want them to be thicker and more impasto like heavy body paints or if you want to pour acrylics onto your painting surface, fluid acrylics are the way to go. Heavy body acrylics allow for thicker, more textural impasto techniques that can be made more fluid or transparent with the addition of water, glazes or mediums. Well, I hope I've taken some of the confusion about what acrylic paints are, why you would choose to use them, and what type to buy. I've included links to some basic sets and colors, I recommend starting with in the class notes, which can be found in the class projects section just to the right of the part project description. Next, I'm going to teach you about glazes, mediums, and topcoats. I'll see you in the next video. 3. GLAZES, MEDIUMS, AND TOPCOATS: Acrylic mediums allow the artist to change the consistency or opacity of the paint they're using. They're made with the same emulsion as acrylic paint colors, so they dry at the same rate as the paint does, and are specifically designed to be added to the paint without changing the paint's overall durability, color quality, adhesion, or effectiveness. They're often a better choice to use instead of water if you want to thin your paint or make it more transparent, because water can break down the integrity of the paint. There are many different types of glazes and mediums on the market, and you really don't need to invest in many until you know what you want to do with them. I would recommend first getting comfortable with the actual paint. Once you know what your paint will do, you'll start to get a good feel for when you might want to try adding some different glazes or mediums to your supplies. Here's an overview of three basic mediums and glazes that I recommend you try first. Gel medium is a white paste like translucent gel that will fit in your paint so that it retains brushstrokes. Which is great for impasto techniques or textural effects. Gel medium also enhances the adhesive properties of the paint, which makes it suitable for collage work like mad patch. You can also use gel medium to make transfers. Gel mediums are available in gloss or matte finishes. Molding paste is also known as modeling paste and is a thicker, sturdier version of germanium. It's also great for mixed media pieces or collages because it allows you to create three-dimensional effects in your paintings, and will literally allow you to embed things into the surface of your painting should you want to do something like that. Matte and gloss mediums are much thinner than gel medium or molding paste and are used to control the opacity, transparency, and overall sheen of your painting. As I've mentioned, acrylic paint is extremely durable and doesn't really need a top coat for protection. However, if you want to protect your painting from dust and dirt, or want to even out the sheen of your completed painting, you might want to add a final varnish or top coat to do that. Keep in mind that different sheen can change the overall feel of a piece of artwork. Gloss varnishes can enliven the overall colors in a painting, but may not always be the best choice because of it's reflective quality. If you decide to try out some top coats, I recommend trying out different brands and sheens on small paintings first to see what you like before applying it to a piece of art that is important to you. That being said, if you do try a certain sheen and end up not liking it, most varnishes can be applied in another layer over the top or mixed together to create a specific sheen. Please keep in mind that glazes and varnishes are not the same thing. Although some glazes may be used as a top coat, some cannot. Painting over your varnish is not typically recommended. Products and names vary from brand to brand. So take care to read all the instructions of your top coat or varnish before using it. Next, let's talk about brushes. I'll see you in the next video. 4. BRUSHES: The next thing you'll need to start your painting practice is brushes. There are so many sizes, shapes, qualities, and brands available that it's really tough to decide what to buy. Well, basically, any type of brush can be used for acrylic paint. But synthetic brushes are more affordable and work great for acrylics. Synthetic brushes are commonly referred to as nylon or taklon. They are less prone to damage from solvents, insects, or paints. They're more durable so they're more appropriate for a lot of the surfaces that you paint with acrylic paints on, and they're more affordable than natural hair brushes. Overall, they're better suited for acrylic paints than natural hair brushes. As for quality level, you don't have to buy the most expensive options available. But don't buy a craft quality brush if you can afford better. A bad brush just makes painting more difficult. There are tons of beginner level brushes on the market that will work just fine. Some that I like that can be found anywhere are simply Simmons or Royal and Langnickel Soft-Grip. I've included links to purchase both of these brands in the class notes, which can be found in the class project section. Here are seven of the most common shapes of acrylic brushes and how and when to use each. First off, there's flat brushes. Flat brushes are used primarily to create washes or shapes with sharp corners. They can also be used to make straight lines. Next, there's brights. Brights are a lot like flat brushes, but with shorter bristles. They don't hold as much water or paint, but the shorter bristles allow for more control. So they're good in certain situations. I like to use them a lot for dry brush techniques. Round brushes are a must have and are used to make things like lines, leaves, and flower petals. Some round brushes have a pointer tip than others. So make sure to test your brush to see how it makes a mark before using it on your painting. So you know what kind of mark you'll get. Next are Filberts. Filberts are also known as "cat's tongue", and they are rounded shaped brushes that are like a flat brush and a brown brush had a baby. They are great for making organic shapes. I use fill brush a lot when painting portraits. Another brush that is good to have is a fan brush. They are good for making textural marks, for things like grass, or hair, so they're good to have on hand. Definitely play with your fan brush before using it to see how it applies the paint and never use it to do a wash, a fill, or a line. Next, let's talk about riggers or liner brushes. These are used for lettering or line making. Small line brushes can also be used for adding fine details to an object. Next, angled brushes. Angled shaders are used for tight shading and curved strokes. It can be easily double loaded and side loaded. The angled shape is suited to painting or blending in small areas and corners. Whatever you invest in brushes and whatever brushes you decide to buy, it's worth your while to take very good care of them so that you can get the most value, performance, and use out of them. Never leave your brushes sitting bristle side down in your water container, and always make sure to clean them thoroughly at the end of each painting session. Acrylic paint dries really quickly and can ruin a brush if it gets kicked up in the base or the feral of the brush. All we store them lying flat or bristle side up. My favorite brush cleaner is called the masters and comes in a soap cake or a tub. I have revived and saved many brushes by using this product. So I highly recommend it. When you're finished painting, rub the bristles into the Tiber soap cake, and then kind of mash them around firmly into the palm of your hand to release the paint. Then run the paint underwater and repeat this process until all of the paint is removed. You might also be wondering whether you should buy a long handled or a short handled brush. Long handled brushes are for large paintings, which are usually painted at an easel. The artist needs the long handle so that they can stand back from their artwork and view at while they're painting. Short handled brushes are best suited for smaller paintings. Next, we're going to talk about the different surfaces or supports for your acrylic paintings. See you in the next video. 5. SUPPORTS: Now that you have your paints, glazes, and brushes, you're going to need something to paint on. Here's an overview of three of the most common supports for acrylic paintings. First, canvas. Primed and stretch canvas is one of the most common supports used by acrylic painters. It can be purchased as panels, roles, or stretched on stretcher bars. Like all the other supplies we've discussed here, there are different levels of quality on the market for stretched canvases too. Again, I recommend purchasing a canvas that suits the level of work that you are doing. If you're just practicing and learning, student grade will do. Once you begin to create pieces that you want to save and sell, invest in a better quality canvas. Next up, paper. Heavyweight watercolor paper, or acrylic paper pads are great for practicing on. You can leave the paper you find in them unprimed to create more fluid watercolor type applications, or you can prime them with clear or white gesso, which is acrylic primer that will prevent the paints from soaking into the paper for more opaque or layered applications. Acrylics are also great for painting on wood. Paint can be applied directly to the wood, or the wood can also be primed with gesso to seal the wood and prevent any sap or other natural oils or impurities from seeping out into your finished painting. You can purchase cradled wood panels and primed masonite panels at art stores, or, you can just purchase sheets of masonite at your local hardware store or lumberyard and cut and prime them yourself. One of the best things about acrylic paint is its versatility. Although I'm not going to discuss all of the options in class, it's worth noting that because of its adhesive qualities, acrylic paint can also be used on many other different surfaces, such as metal, glass, and even plastic. Next, I'm going to tell you about a few different types of pellets you can use. I'll see you in the next video. 6. PALETTES: You're also going to need something to put your paints on when you're painting. There are a variety of options you can choose from. The first option is a plastic palette. There are many sizes and styles of classic palettes that you can use. They are affordable, easy to clean, and can be purchased with a lid to keep your paints from drying out. If you want a very inexpensive option for a palette, you can always use a recycled food container or a foam plate. You can also use a piece of glass or ceramic plate as a palette. They're both easy to clean and super affordable, reusable, and earth friendly. Just scrap or wipe off the paint with a cloth or paper towel once you've finished your painting session. Paper palettes are another option. This type of palette is also available in gray, which can be helpful when selecting your colors. If you're concerned about keeping your paints wet, you might want to try the option of a sta-wet palette. A sta-wet palette has a paper palette sheet placed on top of a moistened sponge type insert to stay wet. This palette also comes with a lid. The palette costs a bit more, but when you consider that you will waste less paint, the option may be worth it. Enamel palettes are also a good choice. You can buy them in a variety of sizes. They are easy to clean and also eco-friendly. They don't come with a lid, but I like to use glad press and seal wrap over the top to keep my paints fresh between painting sessions. You can do this with all the other options mentioned here that don't have a lid as well. There are a few additional supplies that you'll also need to start your Acrylic painting practice. I'm not going to elaborate detail here because they're pretty self-explanatory. One, an easel or a surface to paint on. Two, a smock, apron or painting clothes. Three, brush cleaners which I've talked about already. Four, water containers, and five, clean rags and paper towels. A pro tip, Acrylic paints will absolutely stain or ruin clothing, rugs or floors if not cleaned up right away. So do what you can to protect your surroundings when you're painting. Always clean up spills right away. One product I've found that helps with spills or stains is called Motsenbocker's liftoff, and I've included a link in the class print out. Next up, I'm going to tell you about your class project. I'll see you in the next video. 7. CLASS PROJECT: The Class Project is simple and super fun. Just purchase and start using acrylic paints. Start playing. Please download your worksheet for some simple exercises that will help you get familiar and comfortable with your new supplies. I've also included a list for you to take to the art store or links that you can use to purchase them online. If you take the time to work through the exercises, I promise it'll help you to paint with acrylics more confidently. When you finish your exercises, please snap some photos and post them in the class project section. I can't wait to see what you do. Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this class and congratulate you for helping yourself to become a better you by pursuing a creative outlet. Keep creating and believing in yourself. Making art and taking time to relax and express yourself is crucial to a healthy and happy life. If you like the class, and if you've learned something new, please make sure to recommend the class to anyone you know who might like it too. If you have any questions, please leave them in the community section below the class video, and follow me here on Skillshare to be alerted when the next class, and this Acrylic Painting Series comes out. Stay tuned for classes on techniques, application methods, color mixing and more. Until then, keep painting and I hope to see you again soon.