Startup Library: Painting With Acrylic

Everything you need to start painting with acrylic — tools, techniques and more.
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Ready to take the exciting first steps in acrylic painting? In this comprehensive beginner’s class, esteemed artist Nina Weiss walks you through the basics, from choosing a palette and paint to fundamental techniques such as color mixing, layering and more. Practice your new skills with simple exercises and projects including a monochromatic painting and full-color still life. With Nina’s step-by-step guidance, you’ll be confidently using acrylics in no time!


Nina Weiss
Nina Weiss



In 1980, Nina Weiss left the cities of the East Coast for the farmlands of the American Midwest. The vast open spaces inspired her to begin her journey as a landscape painter. Today, Nina's work is represented in private and corporate collections throughout the United States, as well as in a variety of books and films. Nina taught for more than 18 years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she's currently teaching at Columbia College Chicago.

By This Expert

What You Need: Paint & Palette

01: What You Need: Paint & Palette

Meet Nina Weiss and go over the tools and supplies you'll need to get started, including what paint and palette to buy.

21 min
What You Need: Brushes

02: What You Need: Brushes

Take a look at the different types of brushes available as Nina explains what each one does, plus cleaning and care instructions.

14 min
What You Need: Supports

03: What You Need: Supports

The great thing about acrylic paint is that it will stick to almost any surface. Traditionally it's used on canvas. Here, Nina shows you various options for supports and how to gesso a pre-stretched canvas or board.

15 min
Method: Stretching Canvas

04: Method: Stretching Canvas

Nina walks you through constructing your own custom canvases, from buying supplies to finishing corners.

23 min
Method: Workspace

05: Method: Workspace

Having a clean and tidy place to work is essential for any artist! Nina shows you how to organize your workspace and arrange your lighting for maximum comfort while you paint.

6 min
Exercise: Value Painting of Geometric Shapes

06: Exercise: Value Painting of Geometric Shapes

Once your workspace is set up, you're ready to start painting! First Nina helps you select the right brush to achieve the correct paint consistency and opacity. Then she demonstrates edge-to-edge painting before sharing the various composition elements.

39 min
Exercise: Value Painting of Eggs

07: Exercise: Value Painting of Eggs

Continue value painting as you work on a representational painting of eggs. Nina teaches you how to use directional mark-marking, depth and contrast to make the eggs look round, and blend values to create smooth transitions.

26 min
Exercise: Monochromatic Painting of Eggs

08: Exercise: Monochromatic Painting of Eggs

Throw some color in the mix as you create a monochromatic painting using the same subject of eggs. Continue to practice the fundamentals: seeing light, re-creating form, mixing, edges and transitions.

30 min
Exercise: The Color Wheel

09: Exercise: The Color Wheel

Now you're ready to create a color wheel! In this lesson, Nina teaches you basic color theory, from triads to temperature, and fundamental color mixing techniques.

33 min
Exercise: Neutralization Scales

10: Exercise: Neutralization Scales

After working with black, white and a single color, dive into the world of complementary colors: yellow/violet, blue/orange and red/green. Understand how neutralization works to open up your paint possibilities!

26 min
Exercise: Complementary Color Painting of Eggs

11: Exercise: Complementary Color Painting of Eggs

Use your new understanding of color theory and color mixing to create a painting of eggs using the complementary colors violet and yellow, as well as white.

32 min
Make It: Lemon Painting

12: Make It: Lemon Painting

Once you're comfortable mixing colors, adjusting values and working with complements, apply your new skills to a lemon still life. Nina helps you work from dark-to-light and thin-to-thick, look for full-range values and use complex colors effectively.

42 min