25 Acrylic Painting Techniques To Try With Kids

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25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

Exploring acrylic painting techniques is a wonderful way to get used to the medium. Any time you play with an art material, you become more comfortable with it and you will approach future projects with confidence. Plus it’s just really, really fun to experiment.

Acrylic paints may be my all-time favorite medium. They’re versatile and they dry fast- 2 important aspects of planning projects for both children and me. You can use them in an astonishing number of ways, and I played around with some of them to give you ideas of what you can do with your kids to introduce them to using acrylics.

I know some of you probably aren’t that familiar with acrylics, either. For some reason, kids are inundated with watercolors in art classes when they are young, but acrylics remain a mystery.


My very favorite brand is Golden paints, (I like Liquitex a lot, also) but to start with you may want to buy cheaper paints for your younger kids. I’m a big fan of using the best materials you can afford, since these will always yield the best results, but at the same time I wouldn’t give my 3 year old a bunch of expensive acrylics to play with! My 10 year old is another story. She loves exploring with acrylics, and appreciates learning how they work.

Also, I would choose more expensive paints over more expensive brushes in case you’re wondering where to throw your money around. And expensive chocolates, obviously.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

How do they work? Let’s dive into them. (And these are only some of the ways you can use them.) Wheeeee!

1. Wet-on-wet (top) Mix a color of acrylic paint with water until it’s the consistency of watercolor. Drip or splatter in a second color mixed to the same consistency. Does this remind you of one of the watercolor techniques I featured?

2. Wet acrylic over oil pastel (bottom)

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: watercolor paper


3. (top) Wet-on-dry – Mix the acrylic to the consistency of watercolor, but paint on dry paper. You’ll get a clean edge, but the paint looks transparent.

4. (bottom) Use a wadded-up paper towel to blot up some of the wet paint to create a textural look.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: watercolor paper

5. Paint a wash of acrylic paint over dried acrylic paint.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: watercolor paper

6. Use oil pastels to draw on top of dried acrylic paint.


 surface: watercolor paper

More oil pastel on the left, pencil on the right. Then I washed purple over the bottom and blotted some away with paper towel.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

Paint over beeswax crayon, because it’s fuuuuuuuun.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

7. After mixing up all those wet acrylics, ball up a paper towel and dab into the different colors on your palette. You can use your colorful paper towels later for collages or backgrounds.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

  8. Stencil with acrylic paints using makeup sponge wedges to apply the paint.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

9. Impasto! You must shout this word out every so often while painting this way. Take a palette knife, and use it to smear a blob of paint gently over the surface. Check out the cool mix of smoothness and texture you get.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: canvas panel

10. The red marks on the bottom were smeared on with a palette knife and then sort of scooped out with the tip of the palette knife. It’s like sculpting!

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

11. If you don’t like the weird globs of paint, scrape them off with the edge of the palette knife. It will leave a stain of color in the grooves of the canvas.


surface: canvas panel

12. After your paint has dried, paint a wash of another color over it. Layering washes is a great way to show depth and it is so fun to experiment with using different colors together.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

13. Sgraffito is another fun word to holler, and you can have fun drawing into fresh paint with the end of a paintbrush. Your kids can probably make a far cooler sgraffito painting than I did here. Consider this a challenge.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: canvas panel

14. Using a brush, paint on some acrylic paint that has not been watered down. You will be able to see the brush strokes. Let it dry and then dry brush another color over it. Dry brushing is using paint that is not watered down, but not a lot of it- you sort of drag the paint over the textured area so you can see some of it break through.

Below you can see dry brushing over dark grey paint and over white canvas board.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: canvas panel

 15. Hey, why not finger paint with acrylics? Dip your fingers in and make some dot paintings.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: watercolor paper

16. Carve a styrofoam meat/vegetable tray to use as a stamp- roll out some acrylic on a palette, and then roll it across your foam plate. Press it on down all over your paper. You can color in the white areas with colored pencil, crayon, pastel, or nothing! I painted a wash over the print on the right.
25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: watercolor paper

17. Give your acrylics some texture. Grab a piece of white tissue paper. Crumple it into a ball. Flatten it out somewhat and glue it down to your surface. I used acrylic gel medium, but Mod Podge would work well if you have that lying around. I didn’t try regular white glue, so I’m not sure if this is too watery for the tissue or not.

After this dries, paint over it. The green paint is a wash, and the orange is straight paint. Both look great!

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

More examples of painting over crumpled and glued-on tissue: left is a wash, middle is a watery-er wash, right is dry-brushing on paint.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

18. Straight. Up. Painting. Just mix up some colors and paint with a paintbrush. No water, no fancy scraping or smearing. See what it can do. Look at that texture!

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: white cardboard

19. Roller-painting – Use a brayer to roll paint across the surface. You’ll end up with a subtle texture and a quick background. The background below was rolled on, followed by impasto painting with a palette knife for the flower. The flower was incised with the end of a paintbrush, and then the dots were added with the stencil. Look at all these techniques coming together!

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

 surface: stretched canvas

Ready to try your hand at these acrylic techniques? Make a paint sampler. It looks just like a quilt, and you can keep it around to refer back to. It’s kinda cool to try all sorts of different approaches to this paint on one surface, and you’ll really realize how crazy-versatile acrylics are.

I used a couple of square canvas boards and went at it.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

20. Drag wet paint through wet paint

21. Bits of dried acrylic in wet acrylic

22. Paint dabbing to mix colors

23. Stamps

24. Sponge paint one color over another dried color

25. Paper towel paint over a dried color.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

surface: canvas panel

Big Edit! I was reminded in the comments to tell everyone that acrylic paint is permanent, Don the smocks! Have your kids wear junky clothes!

For more projects using acrylic paints, check out my paper mache/acrylic paint pencils project, mini books project, tape resist painting project, and teeny tiny landscape painting project.

25 acrylic painting techniques • TinyRottenPeanuts.com

Acrylic painting materials I recommend:


6 Piece Heavy Body Acrylic Set

Liquitex BASICS (for younger kids)


palette knives


butcher tray – I love my butcher tray!

brayer (roller) – I’ve always had great luck with Speedball.

Plastic scraper

Sea sponge


watercolor paper

canvas panels

Books for further acrylic exploration:

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  1. 06/10/2013 / 6:42 pm

    I’ve been looking for fun and new art projects for the summer for my 7 year old. He gets bored with plain old paint, and I can see why, but these will make him very happy. I’ll come back to this post and pick a new technique each time! Thanks!

    • 06/10/2013 / 7:55 pm

      Yay! Yay! He’ll have a blast. I just got a comment after yours reminding me that acrylic paint stains clothing- so I felt the need to pass this reminder on to you- SMOCK.

  2. Youngzinger
    06/10/2013 / 7:29 pm

    Be careful, acrylic paint stains clothing!

    • 06/10/2013 / 7:53 pm

      Oh my gosh- great point! I’m going to go edit my post to add this little tidbit in. Thanks!

  3. 06/11/2013 / 6:58 am

    I’ve never played with acrylics much… and never with my kids… but I am so inspired to try some now!

  4. 06/12/2013 / 4:01 pm

    My oldest adores acrylic paints but I was never comfortable with them. I’m more of a watercolor person so your post is perfect for me!

  5. 06/15/2013 / 10:41 pm

    I know they are just technique shots but each image is art, soo cool! I just love all the textures, layers, and colors! Great resource!

    • 06/17/2013 / 8:16 pm

      Aw, thanks! These are some of my favorite posts- just playing around and shooting photos of weird colors and things.

  6. Dionne
    06/26/2013 / 10:11 am

    Thanks! Cheers to you for making this blog. To add… Acrylic on wood, foil, Brown paper bags, and vellum are cool too! I love the idea of affordable art for parents and kiddos. Too often we worry we aren’t doing it properly, when really the bottom line is FUN, an you are bringing the fun back 🙂

    • 06/29/2013 / 11:19 am

      Yay! I love all those ideas- acrylic anywhere is pretty wonderful, huh? Thanks so much for your very sweet comment.

  7. 09/27/2013 / 7:05 pm

    We use acrylic paint fairly often but never in all these cool ways. Just pinned this and your watercolor techniques post. Really excited and motivated to try some new things with the kiddos in my life. Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity!

    • 09/28/2013 / 12:02 pm

      Thanks for the pin! I hope you do try some of these- and let me know how they like them!

  8. 03/17/2015 / 8:32 pm

    I love the white tissue paper idea. These are all really great. Thanks for this!

    • 03/19/2015 / 11:09 am

      Hi Meri! Yep, the tissue paper is a fun one. Actually, I love them all. 🙂

  9. 05/31/2015 / 9:04 am

    I’m scared to paint with acrylics with kids!

    • 06/04/2015 / 3:42 pm

      Be not afraid! Actually, you should try it yourself, what with all the beautiful watercolors you’ve been doing.

  10. 06/08/2015 / 6:13 am

    I need to try these acrylic techniques myself!

  11. The Bean
    02/25/2016 / 11:38 am

    What is the font used for the name/title of this site? I love it! Did you create it yourself?

    • 02/25/2016 / 2:16 pm

      Thank you! My husband did! Well, to be more precise, he based it on some fonts we saw and liked, and then he made this logo for me.

  12. 06/16/2016 / 12:22 pm

    This techniques collection is simply awesome. Thank you very much for putting it together Jeanette! 🙂 Off to pin it all over

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