The Visual Thrill of Color

Acrylic Painting Ideas for Beginners

Summer is in full swing! Let’s take advantage of it and put a little art in our lives! Chris Cozen is here with guidance on acrylic painting ideas for beginners, which means we can all jump in right now. There’s no professional experience or skill required! All you need is to get inspired with experimenting with lush color and bold color mixing, and set aside some time for yourself and your art projects! You’ll love the way you feel when you do — and the art you’ll end up making!

With Acrylic Artist Favorite Things for Summer you get a fun guide to making paintings all summer long. And this exclusive collection is built around Chris’s infectious enthusiasm for art and acrylics. It’s definitely catching! Enjoy!~Courtney

Acrylic painting ideas | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Reflections’ by Chris Cozen, who says to “limit your pigment choices but push and pull them to develop all their nuances.”

On Color and Acrylic Painting with Chris Cozen

Hello again! As always, I’m so pleased to be able to tell you all about my favorite subject–acrylics. I am all about color and that’s why I’m so happy that I finally be able to share all the bits and pieces I’ve learned with you!

Acrylic painting ideas, color wheels | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

Wheeling through color …

Color Wheels

When I explore in the studio, I often find myself making dozens of color wheels so that I can explore various red-blue-yellow pigment combinations. Each one is a marvel to me. What I learned from all the wheels is that acrylic color is infinitely malleable and easily tweaked and adjusted.

Color Journal

I also learned that you can get by with a lot fewer colors if you fully understand what the colors you already have can do. Until doing this I had never really considered keeping a color journal to record the discoveries I made as I intuitively mixed on my palette. I learned as I went along that a journal would help to encourage my own color explorations and push me to experiment more. I hope you will consider starting one of your own. I like using a bound journal with 140 lb. watercolor paper. This allows me to record water media explorations as well as straight acrylic without bleed-through. This sturdy paper holds up to collage, glazing and markers as well.

Paints for You

I always use Golden Artist Colors but will branch out to include other acrylic products or alcohol inks for fun. Artist quality paints have the most pigment per ounce and are the most cost effective in the long run.

If you’re just beginning, consider using “student grade” paint which has substantially better pigment strength than craft paints. No matter what paints you use, you’ve got to get to know your pigments. Some are good mixers and others not so much. Whenever you add Titanium white to any color you will create a tint. The transparent qualities of some pigments will also be affected by the addition of white shifting them to opaque or semi-transparent. This is a great exercise to add to your own color journal.

Acrylic painting ideas | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

Chris’s color journal for acrylic painting. Colors used on left side are Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, and Titan Buff; colors used on the right side are Napthol Red Light, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Paynes Gray, Titan Buff.

Color All Around

I’m living in the Northeast right now, which is a long way from California, where I usually call home. I arrived here at the very beginning of spring. I was visually thrilled every time I went outdoors to see the variety of greens on display as the new leaves developed. Anything from gray green, to chartreuse, lime, blue-green and more. I ran to get my color wheels to see which pigments I could use to capture them. I keep them with my color journals so I’m always ready to record color when I see it. This kind of color exploration will really improve your ability to see and record the colors you experience.

Three Color Challenge

There are all kinds of ways that you can explore color in your journal! One of my favorites is to choose three colors that you don’t ordinarily use but already own and then find out what they can do.

+First combine each of the colors with white and with black to create tints and shades.

+Then start exploring what happens when you mix two of the colors together, then two more and then the last two.

+Each of these secondary colors can have tints and shades as well.

+If you like mixed media, add your painted papers and collage elements to your color journal, or use an image as a prompt to explore color.

+I often draw on the top surface of my color pages just for fun. Let YOUR fun be your guide! Enjoy the color wheels, color mixes, and “writing” in your art journal!

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