Acrylic Painting 101

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  • 16
  • 38
    Exams &
  • 2,969
    have taken this course
  • 14
    average time
  • 1.4

Course Description

Welcome to the world of acrylic painting, an art world full of versatility and bright, bold colors. Because acrylics are water based, it offers opacity (meaning you can paint right over your mistakes) that makes this medium especially appealing to beginners. On the other hand, experienced artists can take full advantage of the unique properties that acrylics offer and push the boundaries beyond their current artistic capabilities.


What exactly are acrylic paints? In scientific terms, acrylic paint is a pigment that is suspended in a binder of an acrylic polymer emulsion. In simple words, acrylics are liquid plastics. When acrylics dry, you can peel them right off your palette! Acrylics are water soluble and water is the vehicle for binding the paint. This is different from oil paints where the binder is Linseed oil or turpentine. The main advantage of acrylics being water soluble is the drying time. An acrylic painting can dry completely in less than an hour and even faster if you use something like a blow dryer, whereas oil paintings can take days to dry. Water is also very useful as a tool to help blend acrylic paints.
There are products on the market called acrylic retarders, which slow down the drying time. Retarders are made of glycerol or glycerin based products. These are useful when you have several colors of paint on your palette at the same time and want to spend a longer time at your canvas. The retarders also help to blend the paint much better on your canvas, as the paint is slow to dry because water evaporation decreases. Acrylic paints are so versatile and lend themselves to many styles of painting. Just like oils and watercolors, acrylics have their own set of characteristics and attributes. They are nontoxic and do not have any smell which makes them a great medium for children to work with. When painting with acrylics, you can create an amazing blend of vivid colors, or make the paint thick like impasto. When adding water and other mediums to the paint, you can make acrylics look thin and watery, like a watercolor painting.

The range of texture and effects that you can use with acrylics is endless. Even using simple products from around the house with acrylics such as sponges, saran wrap, tissue paper, or plastic forks all lend themselves to creating unique compositions. Another exciting quality about acrylics is that you can paint on just about any surface. Beside paper and canvas, acrylics can be painted on wood, glass, plastic, bricks, clothing, leather, or pottery. There are no limitations here. When a piece of art work is completed, you can cover it with a glossy, matte, or smooth finish. There is no need to put glass over your painting when framing. The possibilities of how to work with acrylics are endless.


  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
  • Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (1,702 votes)

    Lesson 1. Introduction to Acrylic Painting

    Welcome to the world of acrylic painting, an art world full of versatility and bright, bold colors. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video
    • Take Poll: Favorite Style of Art Composition
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete Assignment: What Do You Think?
    • Complete: Assignment 1
    • Complete: Exam 1

    Lesson 2. That Glorious Paint

    Acrylic paint comes in two different styles including student paint, and professional paint. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 2A
    • Complete: Assignment 2B
    • Complete: Exam 2

    Lesson 3. Selecting Other Supplies

    Now that you have your paint, you need to obtain the rest of the supplies so you can begin painting. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 3
    • Complete: Exam 3

    Lesson 4. COLOR ~ COLOR ~ COLOR

    Color Sense, Color Blending, and Color Theory. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 4A
    • Complete: Assignment 4B
    • Complete: Exam 4

    Lesson 5. The Versatility of Acrylics

    Acrylic paints have an amazing set of characteristics, one of which includes versatility. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 5A
    • Complete: Assignment 5B
    • Complete: Exam 5

    Lesson 6. Vocabulary, Texture, and Design

    This lesson will help you with some terminology we have not yet discussed that you might come across as you pursue your skills. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video
    • Review 5 Videos: Wax resist painting: The Rainbow Fish; Abstract Acrylic Textured painting Demonstration by Millie Gift Smith; Debbie Arnold- Acrylic Texture with Plastic Wrap; James Kruse Acrylic Drip Technique. "Origins" beginning, 36x24; Top 10 Acrylic Painting Techniques with Chris Cozen
    • Complete: Assignment 6A
    • Complete: Assignment 6B
    • Complete: Exam 6

    Lesson 7: Basic Painting

    When you get out your paper and canvas, here are some things to think about before you start painting. 126 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video
    • Take Poll: Artistic Experience
    • Complete: Assignment 7
    • Complete: Exam 7

    Lesson 8. Painting a Still Life

    In this lesson we will talk about how to paint a still life. 210 Total Points
    • Lesson 8 Video
    • Complete Assignment: Assignnment 8A
    • Complete: Assignment 8B
    • Complete: Exam 8

    Lesson 9. Painting Landscapes and Seascapes

    Painting scenery is probably the most common type of composition for artists. Nevertheless, like a still life, there are some important components to laying down a landscape. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 9 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 9
    • Complete: Exam 9

    Lesson 10. Painting Animals and Portraits

    The best way to paint an animal is to first pick what you want to paint and then break it down into sections. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 10 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 10
    • Complete: Exam 10

    Lesson 11. Painting Abstracts

    Many artists like to paint more freely, more informally. Perhaps they are attracted to the wide diversity of color and texture or want to be more creative with their expression of art. This is called non-representational or abstract art. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 11 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 11
    • Complete: Exam 11

    Lesson 12. Creating Your Own Composition

    An artist takes time, needs patience, and thoughtfully thinks about the paint, brushes, and the other tools necessary to be creative. 100 Total Points
    • Lesson 12 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 12

    Lesson 13. Creating Compositions Using Tools

    Using the right tools make all the difference in how your art project will fare. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 13 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 13
    • Complete: Exam 13

    Lesson 14. Mixed Media

    In this lesson we will be discussing mixed media and variety of ideas on how to accomplish a piece of mixed media art. 110 Total Points
    • Lesson 14 Video
    • Complete: Assignment 14
    • Complete: Exam 14

    Lesson 15. Moving Forward

    For this lesson, let us discuss the final touches. 200 Total Points
    • Lesson 15 Video
    • Take Poll: Challenges
    • Complete: Assignment 15A
    • Complete: Assignment 15B

    Final Exam

    Final Exam 240 Total Points
    • Take Poll: Let us know what you think of this course
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete Assignment: Your Rules
    • Complete Assignment: FINAL THOUGHTS
    • Complete: Final Exam
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Describe and define what acrylic painting is.
    • Identify the supplies you need for acrylic painting.
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to work with color in acrylic painting.
    • Summarize the versatility of acrylics.
    • Summarize vocabulary, texture, and design.
    • Demonstrate basic painting techniques.
    • Demonstrate painting a still life.
    • Demonstrate painting landscapes and seascapes.
    • Demonstrate painting animals and portraits.
    • Demonstrate painting abstracts.
    • Demonstrate creating compositions using tools, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

    Online CEU Certificate
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    Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
    Course Title: Acrylic Painting 101
    Course Number: 8900321
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,702 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: Hobby/Enthusiast (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 1.4 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Instructor: Nancy Fillip
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $60.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $85.00

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    Student Testimonials

    • "I enjoyed the art course and the instructor. The instructor was very nice with her time regarding any of my questions or requests." -- Doreen F.