Subjects: (just scroll down accordingly, please)
- How to Use Acrylics
- How to Draw and Paint on Glass
- How to Develop Your Personal Style
Acrylic paint is very versatile.
Once they have dried, Acrylics are completely waterproof, adhere
powerfully to the painting surface, and the colours remain durable.
Acrylic paints don't darken with time and don't undergo chemical changes
after they have hardened.
Acrylics can be applied to many different surfaces.
The paint hardens quickly, so it is wise to replace caps on tubes and tighten
them even during painting sessions.
Brushes need to be washed frequently in water during painting.
Only small amounts of paint should be put out onto the palette, it is better
to replenish it often, rather than wasting paint because it has dried before
you can use it.
Acrylic paints can be used as thickly as they come out of the tube and even
be impastoed, just like oil paint.
Alternatively, acrylics can be thinned with water and applied with small
sable brushes the same as watercolour. (Except, once dried, that’s it.)
Most surfaces can be painted on with acrylics with or without the use of
an acrylic primer.
The paint remains fairly pliable when dry, so it even lends itself to
After the paint has dried, there is always the option of applying a glaze
over the painting.
Acrylics are very useful for fine details, - on the other hand you can also
heap on an impasto technique, provided the surface you are painting on
is strong enough.
Of course, Acrylics can be mixed among themselves. But never should you
mix acrylics with oil paint nor paint on top of oil.
Water-based acrylic paint simply doesn’t adhere to oil-based paint
However, you can use acrylics as a base and paint on top of that with oil,
that is possible, and it has certain advantages.
Acrylics can be used for mixed media creations due to its fine adhesive
qualities, so you can introduce various materials into your artwork,
if you wish.
Great care has to be taken with acrylics in conjunction with watercolour.
It is best to work the one over the other either way only when it has
Mostly everything else is governed by the rules you might know from
oil painting on the one hand, and watercolour on the other hand.
Experiments with trial and error are of course one possibility.
Taking classes to get more familiar with your acrylic paints will however
spare you some frustration, and this is therefore more fulfilling!
All in all, acrylics are a wonderful medium, worth trying out - if you haven’t
used them already.
Glass paint is a transparent paint (with the exception of black and
white which are opaque).
While there is water-based (acrylic) glass paint for children,
artists usually buy solvent-based paints for a professional
The solvent-based paints (such as "Vitrail") are durable after
The downside of solvent-based paints is the strong odour,
which makes good room ventilation necessary while you are
doing your artwork. The paints are thinned and brushes cleaned
with white spirit, - again a good reason for good ventilation by
means of an open window or an extractor fan.
Working outside is a nice option in beautiful weather.
Glass paint (as opposed to oil paint, acrylic paint, or watercolours)
is very fluid and therefore needs to be contained within the
intended painting areas on the glass.
This is usually done using outliner which is acrylic paint out of
a tube with a fine nozzle which helps to control the thickness
of the line as well as the flow. Outliner comes in black, red, gold,
silver, and lead-colour, all non-toxic and acrylic-based.
The outlines have to be thoroughly dry before the design can be
filled in with glass paints.
Even after the painting is completed, the outlines will be
susceptible to damage, and great care has to be taken when
cleaning your glass artwork (please never use chemicals or
Just as an additional option: outliner can also be used for
“drawing” on glass. Simply use two colours to great effect.
(See the photo of the "Bicycle" drawing further down.)
Another possibility to contain the paint on the glass is the use of
peel-off leading. The longest-lasting option though is using
a self-adhesive lead-strip which you can bend into the required
shapes and attach firmly to the glass surface using a pressing tool.
The authentic look (or imitation of stained glass) is even more
convincing if you attach the lead-strip on the reverse side of the
glass as well.
– A note of caution though: lead is toxic, so you need to always
wash hands thoroughly before eating and even avoid touching your
face or licking your fingers after you have handled lead!
(Otherwise you might end up with lead poisoning, - this is what
happened to my local glazier.)
Very fine details within a design can be added lateron using
a technical pen or a fine permanent marker.
Glass paints come in bottles. Please avoid shaking them, as it is
difficult to remove the resulting air bubbles.
Glass paints are intermixable only within their own range.
That said, interesting effects can be seen when paints from
different ranges of solvent-based glass paints are used together
and refuse to mix completely.
Also, mixing any colour with white on a palette will give you
an opaque pastel effect which is quite attractive.
But never try to mix water-based (acrylic) glass paints with
solvent-based glass paints, it just won’t work.
The paints should be applied on a horizontal glass surface,
or else they will run out of their defined outlined areas.
You start by using a brush and carefully applying paint around the
inside edge of the outlined area.
Then you can load the brush liberally with paint from the bottle
and while avoiding drops you can swamp the centre of the
intended area with glass paint.
Then the paint should be allowed to settle flat within the defined
area, which will create the desired stained-glass effect.
Continue by painting all the areas meant for that particular colour
before you change to another colour.
(Clean the brush with white spirit.)
Be careful not to paint too close to a freshly painted area
unless you actually want different colours running into each other
Any mistakes can be corrected using a cotton bud (Q-tip or similar.)
Oh, and always try to keep your paint bottles covered to avoid the
paint going dry.
By the way, it would be good to carefully stir paints that haven’t
been used for a while, because the pigment might have
separated itself from the solvent. But again, avoid creating bubbles.
Paints can be diluted by adding clear glass varnish
(solvent-based). This takes the intensity and denseness away.
While painting, you can achieve various effects, for instance
little blobs of dark colour within a lighter colour can be blended in
with a feathering movement of the brush.
When the painting is finished, it should be stored flat and covered
within a dustfree box and left to dry for at least 8 hours,
it is even safer to call it 24 hours or more, depending on the
thickness of the paint.
Another note of caution: If you paint on flat glass sheets,
please be very careful not to cut yourself on the edges.
Either have them smoothed for safety by your glazier, or
attach some tape around them.
Also, if the glass still needs to be cut to size, it is wise to do that
before painting, not afterwards, to avoid disappointment.
It is also interesting to paint on glass items such as bottles,
plates, glasses, etc., but please remember that after painting
these can be used only for decorative purposes.
Wash them only in cold water, and dry them carefully with
a soft cloth.
Cases, bowls, glasses, and other such glass objects need to
be painted and dried in sections, laid on an old towel or soft
cushion and turned only when completely dry.
Once the artwork is finished and can be admired against the
rays of the sun or even candle light, you’ll be pleased to have
tried it and eager to progress to do more.
One more hint: as glass is very fragile and your artwork might
fall victim to breaking (or other damage for that matter),
it’s a good idea to take photos of your work, perhaps digital
photos that can be stored on CDs and admired on your computer
screen. That way you can “immortalise” your artwork for years
-The "Bicycle" (further down) is an example of “drawing” with black
and golden outliner straight from the tubes. No glass paint
-With the "Lotus Flowers" you see an example of attempted glass
paint mixing, the yellow and the green have not or only partially
mixed in the top right area of this painting and created an
-The beautiful "Sunflower" lass painting has eventually fallen prey
to the movements of a pet, but happily I did photograph the
artwork beforehand and was able to preserve it that way.
The sunflower petals are a good example of colour blending,
and the centre of the flower shows an alternative and very
effective use and combination of outliner and glass paint.
More "HOW TO USE" articles coming soon,
for the time being, the following serves as a little summary:
Acrylics: Water-based "plastic" paint. Use on paper, canvas, cardboard, wood,
etc. You can make it look like an oil painting, or like a water colour painting.
Charcoal: Typically used on paper, it creates dark, strong lines. (But, it can be
Collage: Combine different materials (newspaper or magazine pictures, fabric,
little items of any description, etc.) on one surface.
Oils: This paint requires a solvent for diluting and clean up. Richer in colour, but
it takes longer to dry. A bit smelly (terps).
Pastels: This comes in two forms (chalk and oil), depending on what binds the
Watercolours: Dries quickly, water-based. Typically used on paper.
You can also just have fun by picking up an inexpensive drawing pad and a pencil, and doodle.
Main thing: Enjoy!
Your personal style, - should you squeeze yourself in a mold?
Or can you vary and play around a bit?
Your style can of course change, consciously or subconsciously,
even repeatedly, with the passage of time. It happens to the best
of us ...
But if you wish to leave your mark and sell at galleries and create
a market or a particular clientele for your art, then it's best to
have a consistent, original, identifying standard. It is desirable
to develop and continue with one strong style, at least for that
purpose. (You can of course use other styles for other purposes.)
Once you have decided on your own style, you’ll see that you will
get better and better at it. You will be familiar with all its own
intricacies and know and master its challenges.
So how do you know what your style will be? The answer is:
practise, practise, practise. Try a variety of mediums, and keep
drawing, keep painting, keep doing whatever your niche is, and
do so every day. And within 6-12 months your style will have
emerged, - that’s if you finish one piece of art within 1-2 days.
There is also an accelerated method of doing this, - keep reading,
that’ll be discussed a bit further down ...
Your artwork sends out a message about you, a statement to
others what you’re all about. It reveals who you are, just as your
clothes reveal the real you: clothing can whisper conscientiousness,
stability, high moral standards, - or it can shout rebellion and
discontent; and it can serve as a form of identification or
Artwork describes you even more accurately, because it is not
dictated by the fashion industry, nor by the size of your paycheque.
So when you develop your own style, the first thing to look at is
what subjects you will portray. Next, you decide on the mood you
wish to convey. Only then will you be able to experiment with
shapes or shading or colour and still fit within your chosen
To be original, you could even choose to combine different
mediums, even painting mediums with crafts, etc. etc.
But by now you may have experimented with a number of ways
of creating art, - now let’s get down to finding your ONE consistent,
original, identifying style!
OK, so here we go. For this, please decide on one way of doing
things, one subject matter, one limited colour palette, and one
value range, - decide on what you know you’re good at.
Say you’d like to do cats. (It could be anything, but for this time,
say it’s cats.) Alright, but please narrow it down to one specific cat,
- not even one kind of cat, all tabbies, - no, - got for ONE particular
cat, and give it a name. Maybe Tiggy. Now do that cat again and
again (whether you draw or paint or sculpture or whatever), and
create a series of canvases etc., all within the same colour and
value range, and explore and portray that cat in a great variety of
poses, activities, and from varying perspectives. Make Tiggy to be
“the cat”, expressing everything a cat can express. Make it a real
study. Focus on every expression so that every picture will be able
to create an impression on the viewer. Make every one special,
When you have finished your series, - voila -, here you’re looking
at your style!
Now try the same with another subject matter, colour palette,
value range. After you’ve done a few series, you’ll surely know
what your personal recognisable style is, - and so will others
when they see the body of work you exhibit at a gallery.