A beginner’s guide to art journaling with acrylic painting

Today we’re going to discover acrylic painting and how you can use it if you’re getting started with an art journal.

art journal with acrylic painting & watercolor
Art journaling with acrylic painting is a great mindfulness practice.

What is an art journal?


The only thing you need to start with acrylic painting in your art journal is:

  • a journal or bullet journal
  • some acrylic colors
  • a couple of brushes
  • a glass of water

The rest is complementary if you want to further experiment with mixed media etc. in your art journal.

Blending acrylic colors

Start with the basic colors: red, blue and yellow, with the addition of black and white. With these colors you can mix all other colors. (If you want to “cheat” with already blended colors, it’s perfectly fine. Although it’s a good idea to challenge yourself to blend different colors, as this will give you more control over the paintings over time.)

Experiment with blending different sorts of color hues. Don’t get discouraged if the color is not what you expected at first. Just add some more to the mix and soon enough you’ll be able to have the color you want. Sometimes you have to try couple of times before you are completely pleased with the nuance of the color.

Fill out the entire page

It’s something extremely soothing about filling out an entire page in your journal with one color. If you don’t know what to paint, this can be a great start since you don’t have to think too much about what to create.

Try different color combinations. Experiment with different colors and use different lengths of brush strokes to see what happens.

Use a hair dryer to help your acrylic painting dry faster

Acrylic color will dry pretty fast, but if you want it to go even faster you can use a hairdryer to dry the page. This will come in handy if you want to experiment with mixed media and water based markers.

Water based markers + white acrylic paint = pastel colors!

If you have water based markers and white acrylic paint, you can use this hack to blend nice pastel colors in your art journal or bullet journal.

Here’s how:
Draw with a water-based marker on a smooth surface like porcelain and then apply some white acrylic paint and mix. The colors will blend perfectly and you will get a nice, pastel hue. Apply more white if you want to get an even lighter color.

You can also use the water-based markers to complement your acrylic painting. Just make sure that the painting is dry before you apply the water-based marker.

Acrylic pens

Acrylic pens are a great complementary art supply that you can have in your toolbox. You can fill out small finer details in your artwork, and using an acrylic pan is more like drawing than like painting. The color is opaque just like the regular acrylic colors and they come in a variety of sizes & colors.

Use an acrylic pen to fill out the small details. (If you want you can use a fine brush as well, but it’s easier with the pen since you have more control over it.)

Test to paint / draw different patterns, leaves, flowers and other details in your artwork. Experiment until you’re satisfied.

Acrylics vs watercolor

You can also use acrylics as a supplement to water color. If you use it in a thin layer, it will actually resemble water color pretty much, and it the result is actually quite similar. You can also combine the two if you want: Paint the first layer with water color, and fill out with acrylic paint. Experiment with the different expressions.

Since watercolor is a transparent color and acrylics is opaque, you can get a lot of interesting expressions if you explore the different options that these two mediums provide.

Paint intuitively!

Just like with intuitive drawing, it’s a good idea to let your mind wander and let the brush do the work. It can be hard to let go of wanting it to be perfect at first, but the more you practice the more

Create an artwork!

Now it’s time to explore with your brush and create an artwork!

Just let the brush flow over the page. Work intuitively as this is the most soothing for your mind. Try out different colors and techniques. Use water based markers to combine with the acrylic technique.

Remember that nothing is wrong everything is just learning! Commit to the process of doing something creative and have fun with your art!

Related article: What is intuitive drawing?