The Teach-Yourself Method

Where do you find the time to paint in this busy world? It can seem like an impossible accomplishment if you try to paint in your spare time. It can be a bit of a struggle to locate a space and get your paints out. Sure, you’d love to try new paint colors, mixing and exploring, but you have a family and friends, a job, and a thousand responsibilities that are more important.

However,  if you want to fit your creativity into your already busy life just click here to follow these simple steps. If you are one of the lucky ones who has plenty of spare time to teach yourself painting then follow the steps below …


What you will need:

  • A designated, comfortable painting space or area
  • An old table and a stool
  • Water cup, paper plates or palette, rags, paper towels
  • Brushes, paint and a painting surface (canvas, canvas-board, etc.)
  • A stand-up easel or table-easel 
  • Courage

Let’s get started …


Step 1  –   Choosing A Painting Location

6237651994_0464d18a83_nSelect a comfortable location with lots of natural light for your painting area. Good lighting is important. Make sure the back of your canvas never faces the sun or light source.

Find an old table or desk that is big enough to accommodate your cup, paints, and brushes, with room to spare for miscellaneous needs.

You will presently devise your own system for setting up your supplies. Place supplies how you like them and consider wearing an old shirt or smock for protection against spills.

Your painting area should be out of the way and traffic free. Find a quiet space with no distractions.



Step 2   –   Choosing Paint81XvfEL72EL._SL1500_

When choosing paint, keep in mind that the cheaper brands of acrylic paint are less thickly pigmented than more expensive brands. The cheaper brands require 2 to 3 more coats of paint for the vibrancy of a single coat of an expensive brand.

Begin by purchasing the basic colors below because any paint color you need can be made from a combination of  these colors …

download (10)Cadmium Yellow Medium  downloadCadmium Orange  downloadCadmium Red Medium

 Alizarin Crimson  BURBurnt Sienna  THALOBLPthalo Blue  DIOPUDioxazine Purple  THALOGRPthalo Green  BLKIvory Black    and   Titanium White


To start, consider purchasing these colors in tubes because tubes offer smaller quantities. Paint quality does not vary between tubes and jars, there is no difference.

Alternatively, paint sets or kits are available and will supply you with many of the above colors in one inexpensive package …



Step 3  –   Choosing Brushes, etc.

71pcC73OelL._SL1480_If acrylic painting is just a hobby for you, go for the synthetic brushes which are softer and easier to clean. Focus on the quality of paint for the time being. If your painting hobby  becomes a serious pursuit then you  might consider purchasing quality brushes.

Palettes – A paper or plastic plate works fine for acrylic paint beginners. If you are mixing large quantities of paint you might consider small plastic cups with lids. Any paint left uncovered on your palette will dry quickly.

Painting Surfaces – Canvas board, stretched canvas, wood, and watercolor paper are the most popular acrylic painting surfaces. Because acrylic paint is relatively thick and heavy, a sturdy painting surface is required. Consider starting with paper plates and working your way up from there.



Step 4  –  Deciding On A Subject

art_of_still_life_drawingNow, its time to think  about a subject for your first painting …

Rather than creating a mental image to work from, try using a photograph or a three dimensional object to start.

If you draw a blank  in regards to your subject matter, consider a bowl of fruit … or any object from your home, a vase with flowers. If you like landscapes try a sunrise or a sunset.

Unless you are able to paint exactly what you see, you might create a rough sketch of your ideas on paper before you begin painting. A regular no.2 pencil will do for outlining your shapes and forms. Why not do multiple rough sketches to get it just right before you paint?



Step 5   –  Mixing Paints

Color Wheel Small Color Mixing Guide (3501)   $5.94

A great habit to establish from the beginning is to mix all the colors you need before you start painting, rather than mixing them as you work. The color wheel is a handy reference for mixing your paints.

You can make many colors by mixing the primary colors, red/ blue/ yellow, in various combinations. Mixing yellow & blue will give you green … red & blue make purple … red & yellow make orange, etc.






Step 6 –  Painting Techniques


There are endless techniques for adding color to a surface. Here are a variety of options —

Use a palette knife to sweep on broad strokes of color for a rough, unedited paint look. Coat the knife in a thick layer of paint, and move it across your canvas to load up thick layers of paint.

Use a brush for  a wash effect by simply thinning your paint with water. By using washes, you create an effect that is very much like watercolors. Washes are great for creating a gradation effect.

When you hold your paintbrush vertically and tap it onto the canvas, you create a ‘stipple’ effect. Using a dry brush and a small amount of paint gives you a multi-dotted effect that is  quite unique.

Once your work is completed and thoroughly dry, you might add acrylic varnish to your painting. Varnish gives the painting a finishing coat that helps the paint chemically bond to the canvas. Varnish also seals the paint and helps to protect it from damage.

Try different ways of applying paint to your surface. Be creative and settle on the methods that work best for you.



Step 7  –  Painting In Objects

Many beginners like to use a grid when painting their subject. It is very easy to split up your canvas into parts using an imaginary grid, Work one entire grid space before moving on to the next.

This is an optional approach to painting where you work one small section at a time … stay in your comfort zone.






Step 8  –  Painting In Details

images (12)cOnce you have gotten in your basic shapes and colors, try some of the above techniques for adding in details like texture or movement  …

Use your palette knife for broad sweeping strokes of color. The knife should be coated with a thick layer of paint for thick textures.
For gradation effects use thin washes of color for a watercolor-like appearance.
With a dry paintbrush and a small amount of paint, you can stipple on paint by holding your paint brush vertically and tapping it onto the paper. It will give you the appearance of many small dots.



Step 9 – In conclusion

Dive in and forget about all the questions you may have, for now. Just have fun painting!



 Step 10 – Post conclusion

Most important to remember …  Painting is a stress reliever … Want to ask an expert? … click here.



Is It Better To Paint Indoors or outdoors? … Hmm, carrots or peas?


Once you are familiar with acrylic paints and feel confident about using them, pack up those acrylics and paint outdoors!

Painting outdoors is a fun way to explore acrylic painting. Keep in mind that acrylic paints dry very quickly, and they dry even more quickly outdoors. Be sure to have a  spray bottle of water handy in order to keep the paints moist.

It is a good idea to use smaller amounts of paint on your palette. It is better than using large amounts that will dry out and be wasted. The ideal solution to the “dry out” issue is to get a stay-wet palette.


If you prefer to paint indoors while practicing your acrylic painting techniques, maybe a still life arrangement will be a great subject for you. You might even consider exploring the more decorative acrylic paints like those with iridescent colors, or the fluorescents. Glimmering metallics are also great to play around with.


Showcase your new paintings


12 replies added

  1. Maria July 31, 2017 Reply

    You have great advices for getting started with acrylics. Especially I liked the advices on what colours to buy and different techniques to use. I didn’t even know that when painting, direct sun light from behind the painting should be avoided.

    However, I still have a doubt that I could paint something decent looking… Or maybe abstract art is more for me 😉
    About 20 years ago I was passionate about painting but couldn’t really make my paintings look like the picture I had in mind or even the photograph I had used. So eventually I gave up painting.

    Do you think that painting can be learned by anyone even without a talent or is it just for some talented ones?


      • admin July 31, 2017 Reply

        Thanks Maria,
        Nice to know that you were a painter at one time in your life. I wonder do you miss it. Painting is a lot like riding a bike, the self-expression and creativity come right back to you the minute you pick up the brush again. I hope you will forget about talent and photographic likenesses and just paint for the sheer joy of it.

  2. Theresa July 31, 2017 Reply

    Hi there.
    What a wonderful written guide! I really appreciated the step by step advice you have given. I found this guide to be very helpful since I am interested in painting myself.
    At the moment I mostly draw by hand using special pencils and A4 paper. Sometimes i draw digitally.

    I will make sure to come back to your website once I start painting with acrylics.

    Thanks again, all the best

    • admin July 31, 2017 Reply


      It sounds as though art comes to you naturally. I also love to draw and I do a lot of it. But, there is something so special about painting that it always draws me back. I hope you will come back and enjoy our fine bargain prices on art supplies, once you begin painting again.


      Lewis (L7)

  3. Michelle August 16, 2017 Reply

    Wow! I really wish I had come across this article sooner. i just completed a painting project and realized that there is more to painting with acrylic paint than just grabbing something and slapping paint on it. I will be sure to use this information for future reference. Thank you so much for this!

  4. christopher September 5, 2017 Reply

    This is a really awesome outline for starting to paint. I always enjoyed painting as a child but never carried it with me through my teen years. I judged my work harshly, and never stopped to realize that we all have to start somewhere.

    I really think I might take up painting again after reading this, thank you!

    • admin September 6, 2017 Reply

      Christopher, painting is a great stress reliever … something we can all use these days. I don’t think you will regret returning to this creative practice. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Jair October 23, 2017 Reply

    I grew up on a sailboat sailing the world when I was young so reading, drawing, and painting became many a past time. My mother was the artist and she started me with pastels, to charcoal than to oil. She would make all her own paints from scratch with minerals and carrier oils. She then moved to watercolor and loved it, I hated it so I stuck with oils.
    Since I left home I haven’t kept up with it. I am recovering from a second broken back and have some free time on my hands. Serious chronic pain, there is a lot of psychological … mind over matter or what is known as pain deferral, I thought maybe painting could help with this and I came across your site. Beautifully easy to navigate and such rich content although I could not get two questions fulfilled. What would a basic start-up kit cost, base paints, small assortment of different brushes, easel, and canvas, ballpark figure?

    • admin October 25, 2017 Reply

      What a fascinating and unique young life you had, Jair! Sorry to hear about the back injuries, though. 

      I love oil painting but acrylic paints have equally vibrant colors and are much easier to work with. We do have basic kits that include just about all you need. You can find them in the top menu under “ACRYLIC ART SUPPLIES.” Go to “PAINT,” then to “ACRYLIC PAINT SETS.”

      Thanks for commenting, Jair, and good luck.

  6. Eric Chen December 25, 2017 Reply

    Hey there,

    This is a very well written guide on painting! I work at home, so at times it gets really boring, so I was looking for things to past time. I figured painting is a great way to keep myself occupied and have fun at the same time.

    I’ve drawn with paper and pencil, but it doesn’t seem as artsy compared to an actual painting.

    I’m going to buy the supplies and refer back to your website for tips!


    • admin December 26, 2017 Reply

      Thanks Eric! Fortunately, you don’t have to go anywhere for your art supplies … look at ACRYLIC ARTIST SUPPLIES on our top menu. We wouldn’t mind you posting an image of your first painting right here on our website in our Artist Gallery.

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