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Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Lesson 6 of 13

Demo: Brushes for Acrylics

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

6. Demo: Brushes for Acrylics


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:05:14
2 Materials for Acrylic Paints Duration:08:30
4 Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums Duration:19:56
6 Demo: Brushes for Acrylics Duration:15:05
7 Surfaces for Acrylic Paints Duration:19:15
8 Demo: Gesso a Surface Duration:09:13

Lesson Info

Demo: Brushes for Acrylics

So I'm gonna show you a couple different brushes types. And we will start with what I've already used in a couple instances here. I better wash this before it gets caked with paint. You have your square tip, and the square tip brush, just trying to make sure it's clean, literally has a square tip and it's meant for making square edges. So let's just choose. And I'm gonna use a little bit of medium to thin the color out as opposed to water. And I can already see that this color is drying. Gonna use a little bit of matte medium. As it dries, it gets more textural and clumpy. So you really do want to pay attention to how long you're gonna work on something and how much time you have to work with these colors. The colors will dry relatively quickly unless they're in a cup, unless they're covered with saran wrap once you've finished using them or if you have a large quantity. So this is your square tip brush is literally meant to give you edges. And it's a great tool for that. It's a lot ha...

rder, I'm using a lot of gloss and matte medium to make this color, but it's a lot harder to make a square edge if you don't use a square tip brush. To try to use another shape, it's a lot harder. So that, if I were making a color chart, and I did use the square tip brush for most of my color charts, it's just easy, it's fast. So the square tip brush and the inch-wide square tip brush is a really nice tool. Now, the first group of brushes I'll show you are, these are synthetic or synthetic and Sable blends. Which means they're animal hair plus synthetic or they're pure animal hair, which is a really beautiful brush. With acrylics, it's a little less important that you have Kolinsky or Sable brushes, which is animal hair, because you're not trying to hold a lot of water in your brush. With watercolor, you are. And the beauty of a Sable or Kolinsky brush is it holds a ton of water in it and holds the pigment. And you can use it for a long time before you have to go dip your brush back in the water. Acrylics, you're using them either in postel like I just showed you, or you're using them in a layered fashion with medium and not with water. So you can use a synthetic brush and that's totally fine. But you do want soft bristle brushes like this square tip. And I'll show you a small square tip brush. I usually like to have have several different sizes, like a large one, a small one, and I'm looking for my medium, this is actually an angular brush, which is close to a square, this just has a bevel. But I like to have at least three different sizes of brushes because you're working maybe in a picture where there are different sizes and shapes that you have to navigate inside of. So I like, like this little brush right here is gonna allow me to get into a small area like this. So I'm just gonna rinse those off. And those are your soft brushes and they're called square tip or angular. I also want to show you another set of brushes. And I've got a few different sizes. These are also soft-tipped brushes. And you can see, let's do a large, medium and small. These are actually, even though they have these beautiful points, these are made of either Sable and synthetic or pure synthetic. They are soft to the touch, which means when they navigate across a surface, they are going to move with fluidity and make a fine, fine mark. If I add medium, it's gonna make it a larger mark. But you can see, you can navigate and use, you can create linear structure with a brush like this. And you can get pretty fine. If you add water, you can get really fine. The water is the medium that's moving this across. If you add water plus this medium, which is matte, again, you can create little tiny passages of color. So that's a really great brush for that. This is a small brush, and I probably would, this would probably be the smallest I'd go with. But if you do really noodley stuff, you might want something as small as this. This is a number six. This is also a number six, and it's called a round, but they're two different types in the sense that this is the synthetic and this is a Sable. So this is a more expensive brush, the Sable. I probably wouldn't use this for my acrylics because I'd be worried that I'd ruin it. They're more expensive, they're meant for watercolor. I would go with a synthetic. And it's a soft brush, so it's malleable, it moves. And the same thing with these. The point gives you the chance to make a more elegant little point of color. And you can't do that with your square tip quite as easily. It's meant to be linear. So the next size brush is, or next style of brush is called a Filbert. Now I'm gonna shift over. When I go to the Filberts, which are, it's sort of, it looks like a round tip. I'm gonna shift to the stiff bristle brushes. Because in acrylics, this is often what people use are these very, very stiff types of brushes. It's really different than this type of brush, which is a soft hair, because it's moving the color in a different way across the surface, and I'll show you. Now this is a large, again, always have a large, which would be 10, 11, 12. Medium is five, six, seven. And small would be one, two, or three. All the brushes are numbered. They always are, no matter what type of brush, stiff bristle or soft. So this is a number 10, stiff bristle Filbert is the name of it, but I always think of it as a round. It's confusing because the pointed one is called a round, and the round one is called a Filbert. Who named these brushes, I don't know. But that's just how they are. So the round tip brush moves the color in a way that you can navigate a round shape. Like let's say you're trying to make a circle or circular motion of a shape, that's what this is intended to do. And I'm gonna add a little bit of water, just to move this. And the water is again, it's activating it, but it's thinning out the color. But the Filbert is meant for, you can see it, I'm literally turning this brush around to make a round mark. So you wanna have that in your palette. You wanna have a brush like that. And you want to have maybe a couple different sizes of that brush. The stiffness of the bristle, unlike the other brush, gives a little bit more of the stroke of the, you can really see the texture. It's pushing the pigment around more than the other brush, because it's a stiff brush. The other brush that I wanna show you, I'm gonna throw this in the water for minute just to keep it clean, because I wanna move on to, you can see I have lots of Filberts of different sizes. We also have what are called the round tips, but these are stiff bristle brushes. They are literally, physically stiff to the touch. So they're gonna act a little differently, and again, three sizes: a large, 10, 11, 12, a medium, five, six, seven, or an eight, that's an eight, and small is one, two, three. Or maybe a four, that's still pretty small. And you can see physically how big these things are. So let's try, let's pull a green we haven't used yet. I'm gonna have to wash my pallette 'cause it's getting full of color. And that's yummy, okay. So again, the purpose of this, it has a roundish tip. It's not so pointed as this round, which is soft tip. This is a stiff bristle, so you're using this to make sort of rounded, organic shapes. You're not trying to make squares with this. It'd be a lot more challenging to make a square because the brush just doesn't want to work that way. It's got a round end, so it's really meant, and I'll blend some things in here, to move the color in a more organic fashion. And here, I'm also showing you, this is dry brush which means reduce the liquid, whether it's gloss or water, and really play with the texture of the brush and the texture of the paper. So this is dry brush. And this is a round tip. And again, it's stiff, it's different than this one. I can't really do that with this brush because it's not designed for that. It functions in a way where the line, it's just more fluid. Because the color's gliding across the surface because of the brush and the smoothness of the surface. This one's sort of pushing the color along. So two different functions. Finally, for these kinds of brushes, one of the most important brushes you can have, and I'll pick those out in a second, are the square tip brushes. And the square tip brushes, again, you want at least three different sizes: large, medium, small. And what these brushes do, very much like the soft bristle square, they are, and I'll use my green, they are pushing color across the surface. And this is where you can see the stiff bristle brush is very much like the palette knife. The palette knife is pushing thick paint across the surface. Look how thick I can get with this brush. You can't really do that with the soft bristle brushes. They just don't function that way. This is pushing the color around. And I'll throw some yellow in there. Again, I can use it like the palette knife. There's a little more control with the brush to my mind because, perhaps just because it's what we're used to, I don't know, or what I'm used to. But I feel like I can hold this brush more like a pencil, which is what I'm used to. The palette knife, you're holding it on the side. You're twisting color on the side and tipping to the top. So it doesn't quite feel the same way in your hand. But you can see the square tip, you're getting an edge. You can reduce the amount of pigment on the end to get a streak or stroke. The thinner that the color is, the more control you have for the edges that you're making. You can see I can really get that color to be thin. That's because I'm using water to help push that color along and it's sort of deactivating the stiffness of the brush. So those are your different types of brushes that you would use. The only last brush I'd like to talk about, and we can demonstrate that probably after the break when I show you how to use gesso and how the surfaces will function with the materials I've shown you. But this is also a Blick two inch square-tipped brush. And it's meant to be used for large areas of color. If you're doing a really big painting, as I said, acrylics, they wanna be large. There's a large quantity of color. Your brushes are meant to move, maybe in a larger surface. You don't have to, but it's designed for that. So this is for big, washed sections of color. Or for putting gesso on a surface. And gesso, which is this last little container here, is designed to, and it's just called white gesso. The white gesso is meant to seal paper surfaces and wood surfaces to keep the acrylic color sitting literally on the surface. There's no absorption with gesso, gesso has plastic in it. So it's holding all that color on the top of the surface of the paper. And after a break, I will demo gessoing, and then color on top of the gesso and talk about some surfaces. So one question from S. Honey, and I think you touched on this, but can you mix mediums? For example, a glaze and a slow dry. And are there any mediums that you wouldn't mix together? So the answer to that is, you can mix any of these things with each other. They're all plastic-based. So you can use the retardant with the matte, with the gloss medium. You might have seen that I've sort of freely jumping between matte and gloss. And it's really a matter of, I'm decreasing the shine if I use a little bit of the matte medium. Any of them can be used together. The retardant also is meant and designed to be used with the acrylics. You wouldn't necessarily use these mediums ever with oil paints, but you can use them with watercolor. And the reason why is because oil paints, with an exception of water-soluble oil paints, are not designed to combine with acrylic. You can put oils on top of acrylic paints that are dry, but you cannot mix, literally mix, like on the surface of your palette. So the answer is yes, yes, yes. You can mix any of these things together in any combination and they won't deteriorate chemically. They're meant to work together. So we're talking about what paints have a plastic in them Donna Leek asked, because acrylics contain that plastic, is it okay to clean your brushes in the sink? The answer is yes. But there's one thing that I would be wary of. If you have a lot of paint, say on a palette, like this has a thick amount of paint, I'd be hesitant to go over to my sink and rinse all that paint down the drain, because the thickness could clog the drain. So you kinda wanna take, like a scraper. It could be just a regular painting scraper, metal scraper. And scrape the thickness of the paint off of the surface before you use that hot soapy water. I would always use a bucket too, so that I'm containing that color, and then maybe throwing it somewhere else other than down my sink, because the sink, if you have garbage disposal, maybe it's fine, but if you don't, those chunks of paint will stick to each other as they run down the drain, and they could clog your drain. And then you'd have to call the plumber. And that gets very expensive. So I always scrape all the color off throw it in paper towels, get all the chunks off. Then I use hot, soapy water when it's just thin amounts of paint on the surface. And even then, I do that in a bucket. Or a big, like a plastic dish bucket. Great, thank you. One last one from Ryan Love, can paint expire? Can paint expire? Yes. That's a really interesting question. I have had acrylic paints, oh my God, for decades. And if the tube has not been opened, it can still be activated. If it's opened and has exposure to the air, it can dry. So you can, if you're good about putting your caps on your paints, and I have to say it's one of my weaknesses, if you're good about it, and you should be at the end of your usage, get those caps on tight. You can use this stuff for a long, long time. And it won't go bad, and it won't get hard. Exposure to the air is what makes these colors get hard. So I would say, yeah, feel free to keep these things for a long time, as long as you take care of them. You could also put your colors in a Ziploc bag, which I tend to do if I can't find a cap. I'll throw a tube of paint in a Ziploc bag, and I seal out the air, I kinda make a vacuum seal so it doesn't have air in it. And that can help extend the life of a color. But yes, expiration for color, it's not like other things where it's gonna go bad. No, colors don't go bad.

Class Description

Are you interested in working with acrylic paints but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to the world of acrylic paints. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a painting practice. By the end of this course you will be equipped with the know-how to pick up a brush and start experimenting with acrylics!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about acrylic paints and how they work
  • Which brushes and papers to use with those paints
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium 

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anshu priya

Very thorough . perfect for someone who wants to start painting with Acrylics.


Nota review but a suggestion. Use a table knife to remove paper from bloc. No curling of edges.