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Readers Respond: Have You Got a Great Painting Tip to Share?

Responses: 38


From the article: Painting Tips for Beginners
What is the best painting tip you've ever come across? What tip do you wish you'd know when you first started painting? Help other painters on their creative journey by sharing your favorite painting tips here.

Never clean a palette again

Trying dropping a sheet of cling film over your palette - either tightly over a flat palette or loosely over a palette with wells, allowing it to be pressed into the wells. Then work as normal. When you're done, simply remove the cling film!
—Guest Lee Nixon

Keeping Acrylics from drying out

When painting with acrylics, I use a box pallet that closes like tupperware, inside I place a sheet pallet page that I spray with water to dampen. I put the colors on and mix on paper. When I'm finished for the session, I put a small wet sponge in the box before I close it. Paints have lasted many days without drying up. Also good to keep the spray bottle handy to spray the pallet color periodically while painting, especially if I'm painting outdoors.

Perserving acrylic paints on a budget

Plastic ice cube trays and a plastic bag ( from your 99cent store, or grocery store ). Make sure the ice cube tray is deep---the deeper the better, and at the end of your paint session place the tray inside the bag. Whoa-lah!
—Guest MoonWater7

Use masking to emphasize negative space

In any painting medium, masking (frisket, masking tape, cut paper) can be used to give interest to negative spaces. As a simple example, let's say you want to paint a blue bar on a red field using two opaque colors. Instead of either painting in the red first, and then painting the blue either free-hand or taping the edges, you can paint in the blue first, then place tape where the bar would go, then paint it red and remove the tape. More complicated examples can be done with complicated cut out shapes: such as painting the basic tone of a figure, masking it and painting in the background, or in abstracts, using paper doilies, or masked patterns you can buy at art and craft stores. You can even use silkscreens.

Painting clean up tip for the classroom

I was an Art Teacher in Middle School and High School and we used Baby Wipes for clean Up, of tables and they work beautifully on classroom desks, tables and hands. We had sinks also, but the wipes contain something that amazed the kids and come in hypoallergenic also! It saves so much on water, sponges, and general waste. The students gave me a quizzical look at first but liked it a lot after they used them!
—Guest Jan Lunde

Lighting Tip

Another option for obtaining lighting that offers a good alternative when the natural daylight isn't available is to use hanging fluorescent lights. Using the casings that hold two bulbs, use one warm and one cool. The lighting is very natural which is usually essential. Hanging them above your work area (checking the height to see where it works best for you) helps also in preventing that pesky glare that is a real nuisance.
—Guest jackie

Gummed-Up Acrylic Brushes

Clean hardened, gummed up acrylic brushes overnight by soaking them in hand sanitizer. When soft, wash out with soap and rinse and save that brush.
—Guest bass1166

Liquid friskit

Liquid friskit often comes in a form that dries clear, leaving the chance that you will not get it all off your canvas. Mix a bit of a bright color acrylic paint into bottle. It will be easy to see and remove later.
—Guest bass1166

Mahl Stick

I do a lot of detailed painting and require a hands free Mahl Stick. I couldn't find any products that meet my needs at any traditional art supply store, so I went to Home Depot and purchased a 50" Irwin quick grip clamp. It has a 3&1/4 “ depth. They come in assorted lengths. It can be clamped directly to the sides of the canvas or to the easel itself. I recommend artists shop around to find what meets their particular needs. There are several different products and price ranges.

About "painting tube pigments" knowledge

Checking the itemization of the ingredients of a tube is exactly as when we read the ingredients of processed foods (ham, shortenings, jams, pickles etc) in a supermarket: it is simply a question of safety use! And generally,we always master what we know perfectly. For me, being curious in the noble sense of the word is indispensable. Marion Boddy-Evans' site represents a perfect example of what I think. Sane curiosity and experiment are two basic terms among others in order to be successful in creativity.
—Guest Yover

Painting with Pencil Lead

For fine details and outlines I often use mechanical pencil lead as my "brush". You have to be careful not to build up too much paint on the end of the piece of lead but it works great!
—Guest Stephen


Before toning down a color when mixing, mix the color full strength first and see what it looks like. You may not need to tone it down. If you do need to tone it down, use a tiny dab of its complement.
—Guest Flora


Shadows come in different colours. In order to make something look farther away, use cold colours like payne's grey and blues. For something that is nearer, use warmer colours like browns and reads.
—Guest Angela

How To Clean An Eraser

Rub the eraser on a table continuously, making sure to check if the dirty sections are being whitened. Works really well!
—Guest Crystal

Cleaning Up After Oil Painting

To clean my hands at the end of a painting session, I always use a pumice hand cleaner -- no water at first -- and a nail brush to add a little scrubbing action. The paint comes right off! I rinse off with water and wash again with regular hand soap. This always seems to get rid of any oil or turpentine odor, so I can head to the kitchen to make a sandwich!

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