Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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Acrylic Painting Routines

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Acrylic Painting Routines

Since I began painting in acrylic vs. my usual watercolors, I’ve developed a routine. This routine of how I set up and arrange my paint, brushes, water, etc., makes me feel as if I’m emerging from beginner status.

Setting up is more extensive than just pulling out my watercolors, but I like thinking about what I’m going to paint as I get ready. Because it is more involved, I do it less often. I find it’s most efficient to work on a few paintings at once, especially since I’m concentrating on the same subject – the ocean.

I’ve solved a question, I had way back in the early days of my blog, of whether to use an easel or not. I prefer to paint flat and like the 12” x 16” canvas size. It is a manageable size to paint on a table. I’ve learned that anything larger is too cumbersome on the table. For larger canvases, after banging them around a bit, I learned to put them on my easel. Maybe I’ll finally get comfortable using it.

Early on I struggled with the first coat on the canvas – the canvas soaks up all the paint! I read that gesso helps the paint go on more smoothly. So now I apply a coat of gesso to each canvas before painting – wait 24 hours for it to dry – and then the paint goes on easier!
Acrylic Painting Routines - priming the canvas with gesso

Painting in acrylics is very different than watercolor. With acrylics it’s easier to blend and manipulate an area of the painting when the paint in that area is wet. Right now I have five new canvases gessoed and ready to go, and I’m excited about the possibilities.

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Author: Eileen McKenna {my creative resolution}

Watercolor Artist, seascape painter, collector of creative inspiration. Sign up for my newsletter!

9 thoughts on “Acrylic Painting Routines

  1. As always, great tips and beautiful art making.

  2. I started with watercolor and am newly trying my hand at acrylics too! Really fun to experience this new medium and will be interested to see how my watercolors change, if at all. Have you found it difficult to go back and forth? Have your watercolors (technique, etc) changed as a result of doing more acrylic work?

    • Awesome! I find it difficult to go back and forth, instead I have short periods where I do acrylics. When I first went back to watercolor after struggling with acrylics I was like, “Yes!” It’s so easy to blend with watercolor and “reactivate” the painting with a little water. I’m focused on watercolor at the moment, but would like to get back to acrylics and learn more in the near future. I don’t think my watercolor technique has changed, it’s more like I’m trying to figure out how to get my techniques to work with acrylics- because adding water isn’t the answer. How are you finding it?

      • I haven’t gone back and forth enough to be able to say. I agree that the set up for acrylic painting is more intensive, which is a big advantage. And after only painting with watercolor for so long, I am amazed by the ability to totally paint over a canvas or section of a canvas, not really possible with w/c. I’ve been more focused on acrylic because it’s new and I’m still trying to figure out how it works. I’ve never taken a class so I’m learning experientially, which is fine for now. I’ll look forward to seeing more of your posts. Hope you enjoy mine!

      • Oops…I meant to say *disadvantage. Not sure if a comment can be edited and my brain is still waking up! 😁

      • It makes such a big difference that I can sit down and paint at the dining room table (where I leave my paints) but have to go through a whole process to set up canvases. I look forward to seeing your posts!

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