Using acrylics is the easiest way to learn how to paint successfully. My acrylic painting lessons stem from classical oil painting techniques, so they will teach you the foundations of painting in both mediums.
Acrylics are very forgiving for beginners to work with. They are water-soluble, fast-drying and water-resistant when dry. Perfect for a variety of art projects and applications, from washes and coloured glazes to thick impasto brushstrokes. They are great for beginners who like to work quickly, as they dry rapidly and clean up with water!
Painting with Acrylics
Acrylics can be used on any surface, including canvas, paper, wood, fabric, and more. I’ve put together this page, as a starting point in your painting journey with free practical acrylic tutorials and articles.
You’ll discover why you should be selective with composition, how colour mixing ‘works’ (and why it doesn’t), and learn the benefits of a limited palette.
Also, learn about the essential painting tools, materials, and techniques for acrylic painting – including brush handling, canvas stretching, and basic painting techniques like layering, blending, and varnishing.
If you’re looking for acrylic painting ideas, there are over 8+ hours of free acrylic video tutorials (the cherry painting gets excellent results!) alongside step-by-step acrylic painting lessons for beginners.
Start with some simple acrylic painting still lifes, like jugs, and fruit and move on to more advanced topics like colour mixing and composition. After you’ve mastered the basics, you can move on to painting projects, including street scenes, sesacapes and landscapes,
If you’d like a structured step-by-step approach to painting with acrylics, have a look at the Absolute Beginners Acrylic Painting Course, it’s packed with painting techniques and easy-to-follow acrylic painting projects.
Free PDF Download - Beginner’s Guide to Acrylics
An overview about acrylic paint, colour palettes, tools & materials as well as how the different areas of the Will Kemp Art School fit together
Getting Started: Choosing a Painting Surface for Acrylics
Understanding paint film & diluting acrylics with water – the pros and cons
Getting Started: How to Apply a Coloured Ground
An Old Master technique to rapidly improve your paintings
A quick way to understand brushes + video
Overview of acrylic brushes and the brush choices I make for a simple landscape
A series of ‘how to’ articles and videos on some of the most common questions and simple video tutorials.
How to Choose a Beginner's Starter Set (Without making an Expensive Mistake)
Which colours should you buy when you first start painting?
How to Apply a Coloured Ground with Acrylic Paint (video)
Video demonstration on how to apply a coloured ground
7 Ways to Stop Acrylic Paint Drying too Fast
Learn how controlling water evaporation is the key principle to manipulating the drying time of your acrylics.
How to Prime a Canvas using Gesso for Acrylic Painting
Do you need to use Gesso? how can it help your paintings?
How to set up Art Studio Lighting (without being kept in the dark)
Do you know your Kelvin from your CRI? how to set up consistent light in your art studio
What is the best background colour for your studio walls & why does it matter?
How a change it studio wall colour can alter the perception of your paintings
How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Choices )
How do you go about choosing a colour for your tonal ground? and what’s the best choice.
Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)
A still life set up of some fab oversized pink peonies beginning simply with acrylics then building up the piece using water-mixable oils.
How to shoot stunning still life set ups for your paintings - Part 1 of 3
Basic camera instructions to use your DSLR in manual mode when photographing still life setups
Are you 1cm away from the perfect composition? Part 2 of 3
How a slight change in your viewing position can drastically alter your painting success
How to Paint Glass & Reflections with Acrylics - Part 3 of 3
Looking at tones and contrast in a step-by-step tutorial to create a realistic illusion of water in a glass
How to Paint a Moka Coffee Pot with Acrylics - Step-by-step Value Painting Tutorial
A simple step-by-step study of a Moka coffee pot, observing changes in surface planes and how the value (lightness or darkness) drops as it moves away from the light.
A Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow
The key components of “Light Logic” to create the illusion of realism in your drawings
How to Shade a Drawing with Light & Shadow
Step-by-step drawing demo, using a paper tortillion to create the illusion of form with graphite
How to Paint Light & Shadow in Acrylics
This two-part tutorial looks at applying the principles of light and shadow to your paintings to improve the illusion of form and realism
Plein Air Acrylic Sketch of a Lemon Tree
In this on location video lesson, paint a lemon tree within a secluded grove as a plein air sketch with acrylics
Glossary of Acrylic Painting Terms - The Ultimate Guide for Beginners.
Common terms used in Acrylic painting to get you started
How to Instantly add Depth to Your Mountains in Landscapes
Learn how Da Vinci used science to create depth in his paintings
How to Paint a Simple Snowscene with Acrylics
In this two-part tutorial, learn how to paint a muted snow scene with a limited palette
Monet Impressionistic Style Landscape - Part 1 of 4
Discover in this four-part tutorial series how to paint in a more Impressionistic style using Monet’s palette & techniques
Green Summer Trees with Acrylics
In this three-part tutorial, learn how to mix vibrant greens for a summer landscape painting
How to use Acrylics Gels & Mediums
How to change the consistency and handling properties of your acrylic paint using gels and mediums
Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Tutorial - Part 1 of 4
This four-part video tutorial series teaches you how to combine a palette knife with your brushes and embrace using thick paint!
A Daily Dose of Painting Courage (And Overcoming Masterpiece Anxiety)
How to bring spontaneity back into your studio and paint daily. The idea is simple: do a quick small study of something you already have lying around the house, try a new technique, colour palette and subject with no expectation. Just thoroughly engage in the process.
How to Quickly make Sense of a Complicated Landscape Scene
A method for quickly making sense of a complicated or messy scene by creating an impressionistic ‘poster study’
Capturing Spring Sunshine (Acrylic Step-by-Step Painting Tutorial)
In this lesson, I want you to think about the drawing first—a tonal underpainting and then a minimal painting on top. Spend more time on the colourful shadows and the lights to create a painting that captures the feeling of Spring sunlight.
5 Little Lessons from Painting a Large Painting in a New Space
What can you learn by painting at a different size? how can a change in scale influence your current painting practice?
Varnishing & Isolation Coat
How do you varnish an acrylic painting? What is an isolation coat? And do you even need to varnish your oil painting at all?
3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t)
Key considerations when choosing to varnish your paintings
Colour Mixing & Understanding Pigments
NEW Beginners Acrylic Colour Mixing Course
A 5 1/2 hour downloadable colour mixing video course to help you understand the theory behind colour mixing, discover how to mix and match colours accurately and then put theory into practice, creating a series of 4 x still life acrylic paintings.
The 5 Key Differences between Acrylics vs Oil paints - a Beginners Guide
Are acrylics or oils your natural medium?
The 8 key Differences Between Artist Quality vs Student Grade Acrylic Paints
Is using cheaper paint holding you back as an artist?
How to Choose a Basic Colour Palette for Acrylic Painting
What are the key 5 colours to mix 90% of your paintings?
Colour Mixing Basics with Acrylic Paint (video)
This video is a basic introduction to matching a colour using a step by step approach
The 3 Tricks of Complementary Colours you can Learn from Van Gogh
Learn how Van Gogh combined colours to create a vibrancy in his works
Acrylic Jug Painting - Part 1 of 3
In this simple tutorial series of three lessons, we use Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue & Titanium White to understand the principles of warm & cool tones
Golden Heavy Body vs Open Acrylics Paints Review, Which is Best?
The pros and cons of standard acrylics vs OPEN acrylics, which is best?
How to Paint Acrylic Portraits
This acrylic portrait course works on 3 different colour portraits, developing your portrait skills and learning how to achieve classical looking portraits with acrylics
Beginners Landscape Painting - Part 1 of 4
In this four-part tutorial series, learn how to get started with a simple seascape lesson in acrylics
Acrylic Cherry Painting - Part 1 of 4
If there is one lesson that will give a beginner amazing results, this is it. In this video tutorial series of 4 lessons, learn classical glazing techniques with acrylics
French Cafe Scene with Acrylics - Part 1 of 5
In this five-part video tutorial series, paint on board rather than canvas. We work on drawing techniques and learn the importance of your paint consistency and underpainting in these lessons
Acrylic Painting of a Cornish Harbour Scene
This harbour scene tutorial is a little bit more complicated, focusing on composition and drawing, so perfect if you want a challenge!
How to Paint a Copper Pot in Acrylics
In this three-part tutorial capture the brilliant qualities of reflections in copper, using acrylic paint
Acrylic Glazing Tutorial
Combine a monochrome underpainting with colour glazes in this lesson, to create a luminosity in your acrylic paintings
The Secret to Painting Realistic Shadows in Sunlight
Discovering the importance of Cast Shadows in sunlight and how to capture them in paint
Distracted by Light (how a bowl of apricots sent my schedule out the window)
Orange and blue still life painting of apricots looking at colour mixing theory and fundamentals
How to Paint a Terracotta Pot Still Life with Acrylics (Free 1 hr video tutorial)
How to paint a little collection of terracotta pots, balancing intense orange next to the muted purples of the brick, which is then broken up by the fresh greens on the leaves.
Starter Set Challenge - Painting Street Scenes with Acrylics
What can you achieve with a beginners acrylic starter set and a basic set of brushes? Acrylic street scene step-by-step demo.
Acrylic Painting Tutorial - Fishing Boats in St Ives Harbour
Painting summer fishing boats in St Ives, this step-by-step acrylic tutorial looks at light fall, creating form and colourful shadows.
Inspiration, Travels, Exhibition Reviews & Art History
Exhibition reviews and painting travels looking at the exhibitions with an artist’s eye
Van Gogh Self Portraits at The Courtauld, London
Exhibition Review of Van Gogh Portraits, shown together for the first time at the Courtauld Institute, London
Inside the Artist's Studio, Ruben's House & the Art of Antwerp
An art tour of Antwerp, Belgium to visit Ruben’s studio and house, experiencing the altarpieces of Baroque artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577 -1640)
Discovering Velázquez, The Duke & Unexpected Treasures
Discovering Velázquez paintings hidden in plain sight in London
Capturing Sunlight with Sorolla (inside the Artist's Studio)
Artist studio tour of the Spanish painter Sorolla, who Monet called ‘the master of light’
Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris
A retrospective exhibition in Paris of the Swedish painter Anders Zorn
Inspiration, Impressionism and the Power of Environment
How a change in your environment can greatly influence the style and subject of your paintings, with a step-by-step watercolour marker garden sketch
Monet & Architecture at the National Gallery (London)
An exhibition review of Impressionist Claude Monet, focusing on Monet’s relationship with architecture
Studying Holbein's Portrait Drawings: A Brief Encounter
Exhibition review of a selection of Hans Holbein portraits
How to Paint, Sleep (and Nearly Die) like Cézanne
How a visit to Cézanne’s art studio in France highlighted the power of taking action on your dreams (even if you’re a late bloomer)
Landscape Sketching in the Highlands
Techniques for sketching landscapes on location with pen and wash
On Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships
A look at the history and development of Turner’s style and influences
Sketching the Light and Landscape in Venice
An inspirational sketching trip through the streets and canals of Venice
The 3 Steps to Becoming a Better Painter, by Painting Less
How too many choices can cause decision fatigue and stop you progressing in your practice
On painting, procrastination and what might have been
Keeping yourself on the sideline as a viewer? It doesn’t have to be this way
Turner Adventures in Colour Exhibition
Instagram collection from a Turner watercolour exhibition and a trip to see the skies Turner was inspired by
The Immersive Power of Painting (a painting truth you can learn too late)
What if the process of practicing a craft was as important as the final result?
The Importance of Contrast in Painting
How learning to view your paintings as drawings can improve realism in your work
Inside Rembrandt's Studio
A close look at the oil painting techniques used by Rembrandt, and the lighting used in his studio in Amsterdam
Discovering Hepworth, Abstract Sculpture & St Ives (inside the Artist’s Studio)
Barbara Hepworth artist studio tour in St Ives and her influence on the emergence of abstract sculpture in Britain
New Horizons and Coastlines to Explore with an Art Studio move to the Sea!
New horizons and coastlines to explore with a new art studio move to the sea!