How to Paint with Acrylics for the Absolute Beginner
4.3 (763 ratings)
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How to Paint with Acrylics for the Absolute Beginner

Discover simple, step-by-step, Acrylic Painting techniques with professional artist Will Kemp
4.3 (763 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
22,167 students enrolled
Created by Will Kemp
Last updated 10/2013
Price: Free
  • 39 mins on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • By the end of the course you'll be able to start understanding colour mixing, have a knowledge of paint application and gain an understanding of how to create a realistic 3D form with acrylic paint.
  • Have a painting to hang on the wall at home!
View Curriculum
  • 24 cm x 18 cm pre-primed canvas. Size 6 Isabey Isacryl acrylic brush – filbert Size 5, small round brush
  • Paints - Artist quality Titanium White (Invest in this white even if you use student quality paint for the rest of the colours). Burnt umber, Raw umber, Cadmium red light, Cadmium red medium, Cadmium yellow light, Permanent Alizarin crimson – Winsor & Newton
  • Extra colours (but not essential) - Green gold, Phthalo blue (red shade)
  • 3B pencil, Kitchen roll (paper towel) Jam jar for cleaning brush. Small dipper for diluting paint

How to create a stunning Still Life acrylic painting in under an hour

This painting course is about what can be achieved with acrylic painting when you apply my 7 painting principles to your painting.

The course is a 35 minute video with supporting step-by-step explanations.

You'll need a couple of brushes, a small canvas and a few paints. I list the materials that I use as a guide in the course requirements but any materials you have that are similar, will be fine.

(You'll be able to download the cherry photograph I work from on Lecture 1 of this course.)

Take this course if you think you'd never be able to learn to paint.

In under an hour you'll be amazed at your results.

Here are some of my previous students success with this tutorial.

Many of the paintings are their first ever painting with acrylics.

Below are some comments from previous students:

"Hi Will,

Thanks for this tutorial, was very very informative. I thoroughly enjoyed painting it. Your step-by-step guide was detailed and very easy to follow. Thanks for guiding beginners like myself."


"Hi Will,

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I’ve never painted anything before, and wanted to give it a shot. I’m only 2 hours home from the art supply store and I’ve followed your videos as best as possible. I made a few mistakes here and there, but I’m still very proud of the work I made, entirely thanks to you!"


"I followed this tutorial and though not exactly like yours I think it came out very well. Will be posting a photo on the blog soon. I am a person of a certain age and never thought I could paint and draw, but it seems I can. Thanks for making these vids and helping those like myself who never did art at school or have trouble finding teachers locally to learn from. You are a star! Bless you."


"Dear Will,

Thank you for this video. You are an engaging and enlightening instructor. I learned a lot, had great fun, and was reasonably pleased with my attempt."


"Hi Will, Just started watching your videos and have been learning and re-learning so much! I haven’t painted anything (been busy with graphic design) for the joy of it in about 30 years so I feel like I’m just getting started. Thank you thank you thank you for your site and your amazing style of teaching!"


Who is the target audience?
  • Absolute beginner to acrylic painting
  • Students who feel they 'have no talent' for painting
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Curriculum For This Course
Establishing the Darks & Lights
4 Lectures 13:38
Introduction & overview of the course

In this video I demonstrate how to select the right colour for your 'coloured ground.'

Different colours using a burnt umber & titanium white, or raw umber & titanium white will change the mood of a piece before you even start the main painting.

For this painting I wanted to have a subtle play between the two complementary colours, red and green.

Because red is the main colour of the cherry I wanted to put it on a cooler base, so using raw umber and white achieves this effect.

Here's a demonstration of applying a coloured ground

Choosing a coloured ground & Reference photo

  1. Draw out an outline from the reference photograph onto your canvas that has been coloured with a raw umber & titanium white mix.
  2. Using Burnt Umber establish the darkest area of the picture. You can squint your eyes at the image to help to distinguish each area, rather than getting hung up on the details.
  3. Try to focus on the subject as a whole, and the shadows as an important area of the painting.
Painting the Darkest Darks

      The added white can add texture, movement and a ‘painterly’ quality to your still life’s – very simply and very easily.

      Using a mix of Titanium white & Burnt Umber, wash in the background colour. Don't paint too thickly as we want parts of the tonal ground to show through. I use water & Acrylic glazing liquid (Gloss) to dilute the paint.

      Once the white has been painted in we have a 3 tone structure

          The Darkest Darks from the Burnt umber

          The mid-tone from the coloured ground

          The lights from the titanium white

Introducing white
Introducing Colour
2 Lectures 16:30

The local colour of a subject is just the colour of an object in it’s simplest terms.

If you could only choose one colour to paint the whole object that is usually your local colour, not too dark and not too light just like Goldilocks likes her porridge… just right.

The Permanent Alizarin crimson has a translucent quality which makes it perfect for glazing techniques.

A glaze is simply a thin layer of paint that alters and enhances the colours underneath.

In this example it helps to unify the shadow tone with the main colour of the cherry and give it a good base to work the next layer, the more vibrant highlights on top of.

Introducing Red

I then glaze over parts of the cherry with the alizarin crimson & burnt umber mix. As both of these paints have a transparent nature – they are perfect for adjusting hues using thin layers of acrylics.

I then begin painting in the reflective light. This is the light that has bounced off the white of the table and is adding a subtle glow to the bottom edge of the Cherry.

I add white to the Alizarin crimson, this always brings out the purples/ blues so is perfect as a cool/warm contrast to the warmer main body of the cherry.

I paint a thicker layer of paint using a filbert brush and then use a blush of the previous darker red to blend the acrylics using Acrylic Glazing liquid (gloss)

Adding form to the Cherry
Finishing touches
3 Lectures 08:49

I then add a base of cadmiun yellow light to the stalk.

Once this is dry I can glaze over the Green gold, this is a translucent pigment so will allow the yellow to shine through and create a really lovely glow.

Adding Green

To add more detail to the stalk I mix a darker green using Phthalo blue (red shade) and the yellow. I then mix a thin glaze using the same green to add a green hue to the shadow of the cherry.

Finally I look over the whole picture and check the drawing and make any adjustments.

Woohoo!! great work! you've finished your first Acrylic masterpiece!

All that is left to do is to sign your work, hang on the wall and wait for the praise!

If you'd like to show me your results from the course, drop me a line here.



Finishing touches

Course review - Steps of the painting
About the Instructor
Will Kemp
4.3 Average rating
762 Reviews
22,168 Students
1 Course
Professional Artist & Author

I'm Will Kemp, an Award-winning Professional Artist and teacher.

I've worked with the National Gallery & Tate Gallery, London, studied at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy.

Run my own successful art gallery, taught in museums and schools and have my paintings published and sold Internationally and I'm going to share my professional art secrets with you.

I write about classical painting techniques at and share methods and tutorials on my Youtube channel (with over 1.5 million views)

I love painting, ice-cream and teaching people how to draw & paint.