How can I Learn Painting Techniques?

This was a question I have been asked a few times, especially when a learner wants to be able to paint something specific like hair for example.  Learners can get very hung up about techniques and how to learn them.  Techniques need to be thought of as ways to apply or remove paint to create a visual effect, that is all they really are. Some techniques are extremely simple although at first glance you may not be able to tell how the painter achieved the effect.  Some techniques are more complex and require more of a knowledge of materials.

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Which Paint Type is Best for Beginners?

When we start painting many are confused by the paint media, there is acrylic, gouache, oil, watercolour so what are the differences?  Which one are best for the beginner?  I will explain the characteristics of each type of paint media.

Acrylics

Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint, water-soluble and becomes water-resistant when dry.  The paints are made from a by-product of the plastic industry so they are fairly new as an art medium (1960’s) and have become much more popular in the last few decades.

Acrylics are versatile and easy to use for beginners
Acrylics are versatile and easy to use for beginners

They are easy to use for beginners, they can be used in a diluted way in washes a bit like watercolour or thicker to achieve an opaque finish.  You can layer the paint as it layers with ease because the paint dries quickly so you can go over areas again and again.  The fast-drying qualities of the paint does make blending challenging as you will get lines where the  paint dries.

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