If you are venturing into the world of acrylic painting for the first time, you'll need a few essential supplies besides paint and brushes. Whether you will be doing a painting on canvas or making a decorative craft project, there are a few steps you need to take and supplies you need to make sure your project turns out well. Here are some essentials to grab when you're at the paint or craft store to make your project a success.
Most work surfaces need to be primed before you lay acrylic paint on them. Primer helps the paint stick better, and it also prevents porous surfaces from absorbing too much paint.
Canvas should always be primed with gesso to give it some traction and to give your finished painting more body. For wood, rocks, slate and other natural materials, use a clear wood primer or sealer. This will form a protective layer that will also help the paint adhere. If you want to let the natural background show, use a primer or sealer with a matte finish.
There are many types of painting mediums you can use to achieve different effects, but the two most important are those that affect texture and those that affect drying.
- Texture Mediums: Tube acrylics are very thick while bottled acrylics are very thin. Texture mediums are added to the paint on your palette to make them thinner or thicker as needed without altering the opacity of the paint.
- Drying Mediums (Drying retardants): Acrylics are water-based paints, so they dry quickly. You might not see this is as a drawback until you try to blend colors, fix mistakes or use other techniques like feathering or muddling. Drying mediums will keep the paint pliable so you can manipulate your brush strokes before they dry.
One of the most important steps in acrylic painting projects, and one that is often ignored, is finishing the item with a coat of clear sealer. This protects the painted surface from dirt, scratches and humidity and also makes it look professional and complete. Sealers come in liquid or spray versions and in a variety of finishes including matte, satin and gloss. Wood sealers are dual-purpose supplies that can also be used as primers, which can save you some money at the paint store.
Choose a sealer based on what you will do with the finished product. Items that will be used outdoors like decorative garden rocks or painted birdhouses should be protected with a durable, outdoor sealer. Paintings that will be hung indoors only need a few coats of general-purpose sealer.
Matte finishes will be almost invisible when dry. Gloss finishes will make the item appear shiny but will also enhance the colors. Satin finishes give the surface a bit of interest without creating glare. If you want to take pictures of your project when you're done, the reduced glare will give you better results.
Although there are hundreds of products in the paint aisle to help in your acrylic painting endeavors, these are the three basic supplies you should pick up before you start. If you aren't sure which primer, medium or sealer you need for your project, ask for assistance at the paint store. They can make sure you get the right supplies to complete your acrylic painting project.