One of my acrylic painting techniques, step-by-step

The what, why and how of a painting

I think that most lovers of art (that’s you, right?) are interested in the what, why and how of a painting and the artist. I already shared info about me here. So, I thought I’d share some of the my acrylic painting techniques and processes with you. I don’t have the space or equipment to record video (sorry). I’ll include photos of each step as I create it, so you can see the work in progress.

I experiment with many different acrylic painting techniques and often learn something new in the process. Today, I am working at my dining room table, because I am using fluid acrylics and they run when using them standing at an easel. This is an excellent way of using them and I have in the past. Today, however, I don’t want them dripping so the canvas must lay flat. If I decide I do want them to drip, I can simply tip the canvas.

One of my acrylic painting techniques — ‘waste not, want not’

Working on the table limits the size of the canvas I can use. I don’t have any new small canvases, so I am reusing an old painting. Hence the reason I’m calling this technique, ‘waste not, want not.’  I start with an old 16″ x 20″ painting that I’m not crazy about. (It dried much darker than I wanted it, though I like it otherwise.)

  • To begin, I cover it with a light coat of titanium white. This leaves some of the original painting visible underneath. (I love layers!!!)
  • I then put a heavy layer of medium viscosity white and spread it around in some areas with my fingers. Mostly, across the center with some thick lines reaching to the top and bottom of the canvas. (Why dirty a brush that would need to be cleaned, when fingers work perfectly well — and it’s fun!)
  • Next, I drip high flow acrylics in pthalo blue, pthalo green and hansa yellow medium randomly. I allow them to mix on their own. They aren’t mixing, so I spray it with water, which disperses and mixes the paint. Then I spread it with a palette knife to mix it in places.
  • This leaves a LOT of very wet, liquid paint which I know will take a long time to dry. Being impatient, I lay some paper towels on the surface to soak up most of the fluid paint.
  • Since I don’t want to waste all of this perfectly good paint, I take a second old 16″ x 20″ painting (it’s too ‘busy’) and I cover it with titanium white paint. While it is still wet, I lay the paint soaked paper towel on top of it. Then I push the paint into the white on the canvas.
  • I wad up the paper towel and absorb more wet paint from #1 and dab it in places on #2.
  • I lay out the paper towel to dry and will use it as a collage piece in another piece later. It’s a beautiful shade of green.
  • As #2 dries, I see that I covered up all of the old base painting. I scrape into it in places with a comb, a palette knife and some sandpaper to reveal some of the old painting.
  • The original paintings and the paintings after these first layers dry are shown below.
  • Neither of these are much to look at now. That’s OK because this is just the beginning. They will get better. If they don’t, I can always paint over them again — waste not, want not.
  • I will continue to work on these and post my progress in future posts. Please consider ‘subscribing’ to follow along.
acrylic painting technique before
Canvas #1 before
one of my acrylic painting techniques
#1 after


Canvas #2 before
Canvas #2 before


one of my acrylic painting techniques
#2 after

Go to Step #2.