Got Artist’s Block? Try These 8 Acrylic Painting Ideas

Do you have artist’s block? Can’t decide what to paint? We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun. To break the pattern of a lack of inspiration, try out a new subject or technique! These acrylic painting ideas are bound to inspire some beautiful works of art. 

Acrylic is an amazingly versatile medium. It can be used to look either flat and bold or textured and painterly. It can be watered down to a watercolor-like translucence or applied thickly with a palette knife. Regardless of your style and preferred aesthetic, acrylic paint is a fantastic medium to help you build skills and create beautiful art.

If you need some inspiration (and don’t we all, at one point or another?), these ideas for painting in acrylic, including both simple and complex, realistic and abstract ideas, are sure to get your creativity firing.

Acrylic Cat Painting

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barne

1. Try a pet portrait

Do you have a million photos of your beloved cat or dog on your phone? Turn them into a painted masterpiece by creating a pet portrait. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to paint animals, by first laying down a base and then expanding on it with more color and shadow. You’ll find that you can quickly build a realistic portrait of your pet or even a non-pet wild animal that strikes your fancy. 

Acrylic Self Portrait

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barnes

2. Tackle self-portraits 

Are you frightened by the very thought of painting a self-portrait? A self-portrait can be created in as few as five easy-to-follow steps. They are a great skill-building acrylic painting project, teaching you a lot about shapes, forms, shadows, and color.

Cupcake in monochrome acrylic

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barnes

3. Tone your skills with monochromatic painting 

Does a monochromatic painting sound, well, toneless? Think again. While technically you’re working in variations of a single tone, you’ll be amazed at how interesting and dimensional a monochromatic painting can come out. It’s a method accessible for even beginners: In essence, you create a DIY “color by numbers” painting. It’s a great way to build confidence and learn how to differentiate shapes created by levels of light in your subject matter. 

Acrylic Bird Painting

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barnes

4. Take a flight of fancy and paint birds

Does it seem difficult to paint realistic birds? Once you break it down into bite-sized steps, it’s actually quite accessible. Start with a sketch, and then begin to lay down paint in layers, using a glazing technique that gives your painting a luminous, lifelike finish. You can make the painting as detailed or as simple as you like by adding more or fewer layers of paint. 

Layered Acrylic Painting

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barnes

5. Create a layered painting 

Mix things up by creating a visually fascinated layered painting. Acrylic can be applied in layers, sometimes combined with stencils, and even applied with (expired!) credit or gift cards, to create a myriad of textures along with layers of color in your work. The resulting piece will be a visual feast that will have viewers guessing how it was done. 

Painted Flowers in Acrylic

Photo via Craftsy blogger Antonella Avogadro

6. Realistic or abstract flowers

Flowers are an enjoyable subject matter for any painting medium, but they’re particularly interesting to take on with acrylic. Acrylic can be manipulated with water and other mediums to create the perfect lifelike flower petal texture. Learn how to paint realistic flowers with this tutorial. You’ll start with a monochrome underpainting and then build up from a base of paint to create incredibly realistic flowers with acrylic paint.

Or, take a more abstract route and create a mixed media masterpiece featuring plant and flower forms. You can create unique textures and backgrounds by mixing rubbing alcohol with acrylic paint, then layer paint over this painterly backdrop to create a textural, ambient floral landscape. 

Matte Medium Acrylic Paint

Photo via Craftsy blogger Sara Barnes

7. Experiment with matte medium 

Using matte mediums, amazingly versatile tools for creating art, can instantly change your artwork. The mediums can be used to treat a painting surface before painting with acrylic, to transfer images, to create decoupage, to seal in collage elements on a surface, or to “glaze” painted acrylic elements. It can add an element of adventure to your next painting.

Palette Knife for Painting with Acrylics

Photo via CakeSpy

8. Try painting without a brush

Have you ever applied paint to your work surface using a palette knife (also called a paint spatula) or a catalyst wedge? Both will yield a far different look than anything you’d ever create using a brush. A palette knife can help you apply textural flicks of paint on a surface so you can channel Van Gogh. Catalyst wedges can help you attain all sorts of interesting textures. Try painting whatever subject matter you like with one of these unique tools and you’re guaranteed to get a new and interesting result. 

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