Wish Me Luck!

I’m off exploring another new pathway in art. Yep. I’ve started learning about acrylics. It’s going to be fun, I think, but right now it’s another huge challenge.

As you know if you’ve been following along on my journey, I have a VIP coming up for a VIP — that is a Very Important Project for a Very Important Person. My husband has been working away on his old vanΒ and he’s serious about having me paint clouds on the headliner.

Of course, I’m requesting a lot of practice time — and materials — first. After a bit of research and a quick consultation with Matt Fussell from The Virtual Instructor, we’ve decided that acrylic paints will be the best choice for the project.

So, I’d better get busy figuring out how to use them!

71E5izRHivL._SL1500_I did my first acrylics “assignment” last week. I picked up a pad of canvas sheets, grabbed a few acrylics at Hobby Lobby, and figured the best place to start was with “the basics”.

I know synthetic brushes are used for acrylics and I already had a few. I will be picking up more.

Before I began, I watched the first lesson from the acrylics course at The Virtual Instructor, and I scribbled down a long list of supplies I’ll eventually be needing.

In addition to a variety of acrylic paints, the materials list for the course includes:


  • Palette paper
  • Canvas paper
  • Stretcher bars
  • Canvas
  • Palette knives
  • Canvas board
  • 2″ Polyester brush
  • Staple gun
  • Gel medium
  • Gesso
  • Modeling paste
  • HB Pencil
  • Cloth

And something that looks like it says S-D Blending Gel? I’ll have to go back and review the list. I can’t make out my own scribbles. I’m posting the list here so that those of you who work with acrylics can advise me on any “do’s and do not’s” on these materials. I do have the canvas paper, and I’ve got HB pencils. I can find an old cloth, but what kind of palette knife do I need? All advice will be appreciated.

Acrylics 1My first attempt at using acrylics was, as I said, a back to basics exercise: creating a value scale and using a simple cube to look at light and dark. It wasn’t too successful. I did fairly well with the tints, but my shades got too dark too quickly. My cube isn’t much to brag about either.

As you can tell, I had no idea how much — or how little — paint to get on the brush. I ended up with canvas showing through the paint even when I tried to go back over it a second time.

Again, all advice and suggestions will be appreciated. Most of all, please wish me luck as I set off on this bright and colorful new pathway. I think I’m going to need it!



  1. I’m still learning acrylics myself. I find it helps to work in layers starting with quote a thick base coat. However, I’m not an expert; just someone finding my way. I will be very interested to follow you on this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Judith – what a fun story with the van – and your watercolor of it is so lovely and charming – and what a sweet surprise for Hubby! Good luck with acrylics! What do you mean by clouds on the headliner?

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  3. I’m a beginner with acrylics too so I’m glad I found you at the beginning. One thing I do know is that acrylics are very forgiving, in that if you don’t like it you can just paint over it. Laura is right, painting with acrylics is done in layers. Put down a base close to the tone you are looking for and make adjustments in layers. This is possible because acrylics are so fast drying. Also the better the acrylics the more pigment they have and therefore the truer the colour is when it dries. Hope that this is helpful…cheers Beth

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  4. Have you considered a few brushes some paint and some cheap canvas? That is quite the list and I would hate for you to have things that you really don’t need right now. Michaels has 5 packs lots of times for 50 percent off. The quality is terrible, but they are great for,practice till you get your process down. Try to spend more on the paint right now maybe? You probably only need 6 brushes at most right now…a number 4 and 5 flat, a little round brush for details, maybe a 1 or 2 inch flat for back ground and maybe a number 2 and 5 or 6 filbert? When you figure out how to work with them…then decide if you want different mediums and if you want to stretch your own canvas? Just my two cents. Everyone is different and you won’t know what you need for quite a while. Get basic colors like phthalo and aquamarine blue, cad yellow light, lemon yellow, deep red, alirezin crimson…gasp ivory or Mars black and white?

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    1. I’m not buying everything all at once. These were all the materials listed for the acrylics course, and I’ll just pick them up as I need them. Thanks for the suggestions on brush sizes. Just picking out a brush can be overwhelming at times. So many sizes, shapes, different bristles. It really does get confusing. I’m going to set aside the ones you have suggested and work with them for now. Right now I’m painting on the canvas “sheets” — taped to my Masonite drawing board. My husband thinks stretching canvas will be fun, so…LOL, yeah! Go for it, honey. I’ll have my granddaughter watch for sales at Michael’s — she works there — and pick up the cheap ones when I can. I appreciate all the advice.

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      1. Go for it! You will figure out your favorite brushes. My favorite are 2,4,5,6 filbert, 1 and 2 monarch round, 2 monarch flat, 4,5 and 6 flat, my mop brushes and a 1 or 2 inch utility brush. Your brushes will be soft. I have to get different combinations for oil depending on it I want to have brush strokes or not. The monarch are my soft brushes.

        You probably will have fun stretching canvas.

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      2. I recently picked up some watercolor brushes at Hobby Lobby. I opened the pack last night and tried to use one. It was horrible! I put it back. Later today I’m heading to Hobby Lobby to return them. While I’m there I can pick up any acrylic brushes I need. Is “monarch” a brand name or another type of brush?

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      3. Very over whelming. I have 3 fan brushes and I never use them. I used them to paint some conifers once and in an iris painting a long time ago. Got them when I first started. So many pretty little brushes. They have one that is crazy swirly feathers!!!!!

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      4. Swirly feathers sounds like a fun brush. I think it’s fun, too, to find things at home that can be used for different effects. I do that with watercolors, and I’m sure there are things that would work in acrylics.

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  5. If your canvas isn’t tight, spray the back with water and let it it dry till it tightens like a drum. You can repeat if you need to. It does not hurt anything.

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  6. Oh oh oh….and Blicks has a nice quality studio 3/4 inch profile canvas that won’t break the bank. They have higher quality as well, but the studio is pretty darn good for the price.

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      1. Toilet paper. Napkins and paper towel get expensive over time. Use thumb and forefinger to squeeze and pull if you need to. Luckily with acrylic, you clean brush very easily in water. For me, it would be solvent and I only do that at the end…the rest of the time, I use toilet paper. Cheap Scott toilet paper.

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    1. I’m painting a little today and right now I’m not too pleased with my results. I’m working on creating values in a painting, and when I apply a lighter value it seems to just mix in with the paint underneath it. Guess I should let it dry before I add those lighter values?

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      1. It is a blast! I highly recommend it. A fun way to learn. There are lots of basic cloud lessons on Artist Network TV. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble painting that headliner once you watch. I forget the man’s name but he has a bit of a southern accent. He’s clear, basic, simple and a really good teacher. I’d still rather paint abstract acrylics but that’s just me. Jeff may be his first name. If you’re interested I can find out. His lessons are really good.

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      2. I looked through the instructor list at Artist Network TV and didn’t see “Jeff”. If you can find out what his name is, I’d appreciate it. No hurry…just at your convenience. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you’ll like working with acrylics – it was when I started to use these that my painting really took off and I realised that they suit my natural style (though I now use mostly oil).
    Other things to consider material wise is a small spray bottle to keep your paints wet (you’ll need to mist them regularly), some glazing medium which helps thin the paint (you don’t want to add so much water that the structure of the paint breaks down) and if you really find they dry too quickly for you, some Retarder to mix in which keeps them workable for longer. Plus a plastic container to save your paints in, with a lid, or a shallow tray you can cover with cling film so you can save your paints overnight.
    May I also recommend Will Kemp? He is a very fabulous patient artist who has some free videos on you tube (painting a cherry and apple). They are such good quality, he doesn’t miss out anything and you can follow along step by step. I was amazed at what I achieved and learned doing these, a real step forward for me. I think I have my cherry and apple paintings on my blog somewhere.
    But its so much information to take in, so many recommendations, I won’t be offended if you don’t get round to checking him out! Good luck, looking forward to seeing how you get on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the suggestions. I’ve heard of Will Kemp before…just can’t remember when and where I came across him. Definitely I will check him out again.Glazing medium sounds like a good idea for me. I’ve already found that I want to keep adding water to thin the paints out a bit, although I’m getting a little better at avoiding it. I’ve been reading Debora Stewart’s book on Abstract Art Painting — I mentioned you and your blog in my post on Monday — and I can’t wait to try using acrylics for abstracts. It’s going to be a fun experience.

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      1. Word Press gets wonky sometimes, too. I know I’ve occasionally missed comments and posts. I wanted you to know how much I’m enjoying Debora Stewart’s book. Thanks again for the recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I seldom use acrylics, but they are great! Tip: they dry fast! There’s a bunch of videos on youtube on how to keep the paints from drying too quickly on your palette (a spray bottle with occasional light sprays on the paint globs works for me).

    Also, acrylics turn a darker shade when dry. I guess practice and experimentation are the only ways to find out how to get the shades you want.

    I really think you’ll enjoy working with acrylics. It’s challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be running out of space to hang your paintings! Good luck! πŸ™‚

    p.s. The watercolor painting of the van is great! It’s simple and it tells a story. That van has character and I think you’ve captured it in that painting. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tips and the good wishes. I’ve already encountered the blobs of paint drying on the palette 😦 Good to know there’s a way around that. Yes, that old van has character. My husband is starting to work on the exterior now, so some of the rust is gone. I’ll have to take some photos to share on the blog. Thanks for taking time to visit! Your encouragement means a lot to me.


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