Mistakes beginners make in acrylic and LOTS OF painting tips/ Prophylactic self-isolation series. Day 338th.

Are you a beginner in acrylic painting? This short article provides valuable tips how to start and progress quickly.

I am a beginner in acrylics too. Therefore, I am searching for good videos and tutorials explaining the principles, details, mistakes, etc. Here is one video which is worth to watch:

10 mistakes beginners make in Acrylic Painting

The teacher talks about mistakes beginners do in acrylics and giving valuable tips helping to improve acrylic paintings.

10 (11) tips to improve your Acrylic Painting by Lachri Fine Art

  1. Being afraid of doing mistakes is a mistake
  2. Choose a right canvas for your project and avoid cheap ones!
  3. Choose right paint for a particular technique
  4. Use color mixing instead of buying huge assortment of paints
  5. Start small. Squeeze small amount of paint on a paint pallete
  6. Take brushes out of water immediately after you wash them
  7. Dry brushing?
  8. Use enough paint and water on your brush
    1. Eg., edges of the objects would be much smooth if using enough paint and/or water on your brush: make a brush stroke and reload it, again and again
  9. Start with small canvas size instead of a huge ones
  10. Avoid overblending – usually a couple of strokes is what you need
  11. Start working faster and a lot, so that not to stay in the beginner level forever

If you make one of these “mistakes” but you like your results, then it’s not a mistake at all! There is no one right or wrong way to make art, if what you are doing makes you happy, continue doing it!

Lachri Fine Art

A few more tips for acrylic painting by Alisa Palatronis:

Many things are already known for years for the professionals, so they do not even think to talk about the very details. However, as a beginner for a beginner, I want to tell some things which may arise in a mind, but nowhere is the answer.

Or as it was once in my case. i asked a teacher whether I need to mix acrylic paints with water or not. And she told me that as a painter I can do whatever. Well, that was not an answer which I wanted to hear. I wanted to learn and go into details. Here are they! Discovered by myself, by searching, trying and experimenting.

I have started to paint with acrylics two years ago. Of course, real practice brings its unique experience and insights. I also have found some specific tips to learn. Here are my insights for the acrylic painting:

1. Cover a canvas with a modeling paste before you start

I bought a few modeling pastes because of sell-out. Honestly, I did not know what are they for, just wanted to try something new at lower price:) Well, at the beginning I was blending it with a color till that time when I discovered it’s real purpose – to cover a canvas before painting!

Some types of modeling pastes:

From top to bottom:

  • light modeling paste
  • fine natural pumice
  • coarse white pumice

How to apply modeling paste on a canvas:

Cover a canvas evenly with thin layer of a modeling paste in one direction – horizontally. Let it dry for 30 min
After the first layer has dried, cover a canvas evenly with another thin layer of a modeling paste. This time apply a paste vertically. Let it dry for another 30 min
After two layers of a modeling paste have dried – time to draw contours of start to paint with acrylics directly

Note that heavy modeling pastes are heavy and may overweight with time, leaving sags on a canvas. So, for big canvases use a light modeling paste, for small canvases – any type may work well.

Background and general view may differ when using or not a modeling paste:

In a red circle you may see white space here and there – yes, the canvas is not covered with any paint there!!!
For this project I used a coarse white pumice. All the surface looks vibrant in colors and rich, because light plays on each grain of pumice

If starting the work directly on a canvas, first we are working on a “fill-in a white surface”. Therefore, first one-two layers of paint are dedicated to the impregnation of a canvas. The paint goes IN a canvas, being absorbed by it. Instead of diving into a world of creation, the technical process of covering a canvas is usually begins. You may avoid it by using modeling paste as I do.

2. Know the type of acrylic paint you use

Here below I will talk only about those types which i have used personally:

What kind of acrylics do you use? Heavy body acrylic; Soft Body acrylic; Fluid acrylic; Acrylic inks; Acrylic gouache or Acrylic markers? The type of acrylics determines what kind of techniques would work well and which do not (1).

For example, Heavy body acrylic paints (soft butter consistency) retain brush marks and gestures well. You may create different textures on a canvas with it and not just go flat. As there is a minimum amount of water in these paints if comparing with other types, they may be mixed with a little amount of water, however, they are designed to be “heavy body”, without lots of water added. Pallette knife works especially great with this type of acrylics.

Soft body acrylics (yogurt consistency) goes smooth and ideal for mixing with medium (including water). These paints are great for those who focus on details in a painting.

Fluid body acrylics (double cream consistency) would be great for finely detailed work.

Acrylic markers are is a great replacement for a paint to sign your work! Really, I struggled to sign works with paint on a brush – hand movements for signing differ from painting movements, right? Acrylic markers differ in colors and line thickness, so one would definitely find the right marker for him/her self.

3. Take breaks

During your painting process, we usually go from a background, then contouring the largest object and finishing with tiny details, highlights and tones. While practicing, I realized the breaks are necessary.

Paints do not dry immediately: with “heavy body” acrylics you may probably make textured surface, while “soft” or “fluid” body acrylics contain more water. When water dries – the color is fixed. When “heavy body” stroke made by pallette knife has dried – the color is fixed. Drying needs some time.

First background layers for a mandarin skins. I left it to dry and continued on another day with texture and details of a mandarin skin
Finished version of a mandarin skin. Well, it is not a tutorial on how to paint a mandarin. I am learning, it is my mandarin for now:) What I want to tell is that if an object need any kind of detailing or texture – dry a previous paint layer before you start to add those details.

For example, when going into detailing, you might be sure that the area around (background) is already dry. Otherwise colors may blend and instead of fine stroke a messy area will appear. Then you are trying to correct it, putting more and more color… but because the paint is not yet dry, the total mess appears instead.

4. Pollute the environment less

Sad but true, human’s activity, even the art is a kind of pollution for Nature. Keeping brushes clean means cleaning them in water. Where do you put this dirty water after? I have already touched this topic in my previous article Unusual phobias in painting, very unusual / Prophylactic self-isolation series. Day 219th. I still do not make it perfect and do not remove solids from rinse water. But what I have done is that I have minimized the amount of residue paint to be rinsed in water. How? Here below are illustrated step-by-step tips.

How I minimize the amount of residue paint to be rinsed in water:

  • Clean the brush before rinsing in water
Brush was immersed in a blue acrylic color and then rinsed in water
Brush was immersed in a blue acrylic color, but before rinsing in water the paint was removed with a napkin
More paint goes into water when a brush is rinsed in it directly (glass on a left); less paint goes into water when brush is cleaned with a napkin before rinsing in water (glass on a right).

Some amount of paint still left when cleaning with a napkin, because of a thick layer of bristles: paint is captured in the inside layers of bristles.

The goal is to have less paint in rinse water.


let the paints to dry and collect with a spatula later

Of course, dry leftovers will still go into a bin and later to a landfill, but the direct water pollution will be avoided…


  1. KOBA, K., et al. Antibacterial Activities of the Buds Essential Oil of Syzygium Aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry from Togo. Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature, 2011, vol. 1, no. 1. pp. 42-51.
  2. How Drinking Grapefruit Juice Could Increase Your Cervical Mucus by Lindsay Meisel, 2017, online source: https://www.avawomen.com/avaworld/grapefruit-juice-cervical-mucus/
  3. How to Increase Your Fertility by Janet Stephens, book’s online source: https://books.google.pl/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hXrgDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=grapefruit+juice+fertility+cervical+mucus&ots=h-9d6b_M9k&sig=TjAHHTFK7GS9lKCLxW-OKhDQnbA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=grapefruit%20juice%20fertility%20cervical%20mucus&f=false

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