The Acrylic Drip Technique

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Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint that can be diluted with water when wet, but becomes water-resistant when it dries. Because it is so easily manipulated with water, acrylic paint lends itself to drip techniques that allow artists to create an array of effects and to mimic oil paintings or paintings done with watercolor. By applying these drip techniques to your own work, you can add individuality to your acrylic paintings.

Splatter Technique

  • The splatter technique is ideal for creating grainy textures in your work. Artists achieve this effect diluting the acrylic paint with water to the desired consistency. The desired consistency is determined by the amount of drip desired on the canvas. The thinner the paint, the more it will run down the canvas. The artist applies the paint by flicking the brush at the canvas and allowing the paint to drip down the canvas. This technique is often employed to add not only texture to the painting, but to help create atmosphere.

Brush Drip

  • Straight dripping occurs when the artist uses diluted paint and holds the brush at an angle to the canvas, allowing the paint to drip onto the canvas. This technique is typically used with a slightly diluted mixture of paint and employed to add dimension to a painting. Many artists will create these drips and then manipulate them as the acrylic dries, developing variations in color that lend contrast to the painting.

Texture Painting

  • The glue-like quality of acrylic paint makes it ideal for using with other elements to create paintings with various textures. Dripping water-diluted paint onto the canvas that has been augmented with sawdust, sand or glitter creates textures and visual effects.

Layered Dripping

  • Layered dripping allows the artist to blend colors and create varying shades of the same color. This is accomplished by first dripping a layer of one color onto the canvas, then diluting a second color and dripping or splattering it onto the first. The artist blends the diluted color onto the darker drips of paint, creating a blend of the two, with the darker paint as the focal color point.

Dripping and Scraping

  • Dripping paint onto the canvas in thick amounts is important for acrylic artists who want to employ the scraping technique. Since acrylics dry so much faster than oils, it's necessary to drip more paint onto the canvas to compensate for the speed with which the acrylic dries. This allows the artist time to remove the paint with a palette knife while it is still semi-wet.

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