If you’re new to acrylic painting, this is the blog post for you! With 101 easy acrylic painting ideas for beginners on canvas, there’s no reason not to start your journey today. From landscapes and still life paintings to abstracts and portraits–this list has something for everyone.
Table of content for Easy Acrylic Painting Ideas for Beginners on Canvas:
- What do you need to paint acrylic on canvas
- 101 Easy Acrylic Painting Ideas for Beginners on Canvas
- How painting affects mental heath and why you should stay creative
Need some inspiration? When I start painting, I am afraid that it will not look like I’ve planned or I’m simply blank sometimes and don’t touch canvas for weeks!
Where to get Ideas for acrylic painting?
- pinterest, just type acrylic painting ideas or painting ideas, as it doesn’t matter the medium, you can do it in acrylics!
- google images – same
- facebook groups for acrylic painting beginners. People post a lot of works, it may inspire you.
- your photo album – choose your favorite photos.
- movies and tv shows or games – paint your fav character or scene.
- world around you. Every artist sees details no one else can see. World around us is unique.
What do you need to paint acrylic on canvas?
Supplies for easy acrylic painting on canvas:
- canvas primed and stretched: black or white
- acrylic paint set or tubes purchased individually
- *sponge – for some ideas
101 Easy Acrylic Painting Ideas for Beginners on Canvas
1 – Night sky
Night skies can be different all over the world. It could also be a night sky not on the Earth, why not? You can take a photo of the night sky and use it as a reference or use your imagination.
Insider Tip: the most simple way to paint night sky may be to paint on pre-primed black canvas.
Here is an idea for desert Night Sky:
2 – Painting Galaxy with acrylic
Galaxy is appealing and mysterious, but very easy to paint with acrylics, to be honest. You can use a dry brush or sponge and make it happen in 5 minutes!
Colors you can use (buy brands such as Liquitex, Golden, Winsor & Newton), here are all colors by Liquitex:
The video tutorial on painting galaxy with sponge:
3 – Mountains with acrylics
Mountains can be soooo different! With trees, winter mountains, mountains on an imaginary planet, Japanese mountains, Kilimanjaro, etc.
So many options!
How to paint mountains with acrylics:
Insider Tip: to create depth in your mountain painting, paint in layers going from the furthest mountains to the closest ones. Remember that not all mountains resemble a pyramid.
4 – Rivers or lakes
Water may be quite tricky to paint, but let’s start with rivers or lakes. Find a photo from your favorite spot or steal one from Pinterest.
You can paint just a lake or a lake with swans or a boat. Lake in summer, or winter, on a rainy day – choose what inspires you.
Insider Tip: If you a very very beginner, try not to choose complex ideas with a lot of details, shades and reflections.
5 – Your fav photo
This is might be one of your first paintings. Today painting a photo from Instagram became a very popular trend among some artists, this is a work by Sasha Robinson which will be probably sold for a couple of thousand $$.
6 – Your pet
Paint your loved dog, cat, fish or hamster, or any other pet you have. It could be just for practice, but also can be a great gift or memory.
Choose a photo or make one use it as a reference, make a sketch first. Painting animals takes time and patience, but a beginner can absolutely make it!
if you are painting a dog or cat, use a round small brush or a liner for details and fur, or even add fur with a pen or pencil. Use white paint painting fur.
Here is a guide How to paint a cat in acrylics:
Here is a Youtube video How to paint a dog with acrylic:
7 – Easy dot painting with acrylics
Dot art can be very detailed and take a lot of time. For a beginner, though it can be an easy way to start. You don’t have to mix a lot of paint, you don’t have to paint objects and details – only dots, which is easy with a round brush.
Technically, anything can become a dot painting: a mandala, a landscape, an abstract idea.
You can also use henna bags instead of a brush 😉
Painting dots make sure your brush is always clean!
8 – Abstract Painting on Black Background
The black background is a lot of fun. You can paint it with black paint, you can prime a raw canvas with black gesso, or you can simply buy a pre-primed black canvas.
Abstract art is freedom, there are no rules and you are free to express yourself with any colors and shapes you want: lines, dots, paint dripping from the brush, big strokes – everything is acceptable.
9 – Make Acrylic look like Watercolor
To make acrylic paintwork as watercolor, you will need to thin acrylics with Liquitex Flow Aid and distilled water (you can use tap water too, but it is still recommended to use distilled water).
Here is a short video demonstrating wet-on-wet techniques with acrylics:
10 – Paint Sunset with acrylic paint
What sunset are you imagining? Sunset on the beach, sunset in the megapolis, sunset on top of the mountain or near a lake?
Paint sunset with acrylic paint is extremely easy. You may have used the following colors:
Start with the background, moving from one color to another (use brush or sponge), let it dry, and then paint the closest objects with black paint. Add details and highlights with white and that’s it!
11 – Sunrise in acrylics
Close your eyes and imagine this fresh air, newborn sun, and how nature is waking up…Or maybe you hear how silent is your city?
Sunrise near a river in a tent, on the beach on an island, in the village of your childhood – many many options to paint.
To paint a sunrise you may need: yellow, bright orange, pink and blue
Here is a Youtube tutorial How to paint a sunrise with acrylic:
12 – Horse
Painting horses can be challenging, that’s why I suggest you paint a horse’s head or horse silhouette like this:
13 – Easy Rain acrylic painting
Painting rain and water is tricky as you need to paint something almost transparent. Water also has reflections and interacts with light.
Second, how we can tell about rain? Umbrellas, drops on the window, puddles. Sometimes a rainy day is a grey, but sometimes it’s still sunny. Which one do you choose?
14 – Easy Portrait acrylic painting
A professional artist can create portrait as real as a photo is.
To paint a good portrait you need to know anatomy and think about light, also you will need to mix skin tone color. We are learning and we can use some tricks:
- use different technique, don’t try to be photorealistic
- use bright colors for accents
- google how to create skin tone color and other questions you may have, don’t be shy!
Here is a Youtube easy acrylic portrait tutorial:
A portrait can be very original too: what if it would be a female face with no mouth to illustrate how society ignores violence or a silhouette of the face with an inner world inside? Portrait can also combine several techniques, painting, and impasto, as an example.
15 – Easy Mushrooms painting
The fly agaric is the most popular mushroom to paint. It can be as part of a fairy tale with a Dwarf on top of it, or a more natural look of a mushroom. Be original, try other mushrooms too.
Can be a great painting for the kitchen!
16 – Easy black and white acrylic painting
Black and white is an easy painting as we only need 2 colors. You can do it on any background and use any theme, e. I yin yang or you can paint objects, portraits, nature using only 2 colors.
17 – Paint lovers, a couple
Are you in love? As we agreed, painting people and animals can be challenging, so we will again use the trick with silhouettes.
Here is also a Moonlight Couple Painting with acrylics:
18 – Paint an owl acrylic painting for beginners
Owl is an image of wisdom, owl painting can be also a great gift for Harry Potter fans.
19 – Puppy
Who doesn’t love cute puppies? You can try to paint as realistic as you can, or paint cartoon-style dogs.
20 – Earth
Our planet is beautiful and diverse. It can be a view from space, it can be something conceptual like a planet on turtles – up to you. Maybe it can be something social – polluted planet or planet in war.
What is Earth for you?
21 – Moon
Mysterious and gorgeous – the Moon. To paint the background using a sponge. If you want to paint on black background, buy a black primed canvas.
Painting the moon with Youtube tutorial:
22 – Nature morte or a Still life painting
Historically, nature morte was one of the must-have traditions in painting. Depending on culture, artists painted fruits, fish, kitchenware, etc.
A still-life painting is extremely important in academic painting teaching. You can create your own nature morte with fruits, vegetables, cups, and other kitchen stuff or even try something modern
23 – Easy photorealism with acrylic
Photorealism looks outstanding and it is sometimes hard to tell if it is a painting or a real object. As you can guess this technique requires time, knowledge, and patience.
It also has a trick – one of the key stages of painting photorealism is transferring photos to your canvas.
Insider tip: print your photo reference on high quality print paper the same size as your future painting will be. When you transfer the photo to the canvas with transfer paper, remember to trace every detail, every single detail.
24 – Easy geometric painting with acrylic
Painting geometric you will feel more confident, as all shapes are very well measured.
There are not only straightforward geometric painting ideas, but you can also paint everything using shapes, look at this lion with triangles.
Another option is to use masking tape.
25 – Painting beach with acrylic paint
One of the easy paintings in acrylics is the beach scene. Did you know that there are beaches with black sand too? Maybe you want to paint one of those.
The background is easy to blend with a sponge.
26 – Paint a city
For a beginner, the easiest way to paint a big city is to paint a night city with silhouettes.
27 – Underwater world with acrylic
Imagine your snorkeling in clear, turquoise water…What you will see? Turtles, jellyfish, Nemo? The underwater world is fantastic, and also quite simple to paint for a beginner.
Insider tip: Always paint water first, fish and corals will be last.
28 – Paint metaphorical love, death, etc
Art helps us to express something invisible, something that doesn’t need words. Art therapy is a proven method of building well-being also because we can experience what’s happening. We are also all so different, that for someone love is eternal, but for others temporary like a flower.
Painting is your way to transmit a message about yourself and the world.
29 – Try easy acrylic pouring on canvas
Acrylic pouring is an absolute trend now – it is easy, it is fast, it is nice. You don’t need to buy brushes, palettes, worrying about fast-drying paint. You only need to dilute the paint with Floetrol or another pouring medium.
There are different techniques in pouring too, just follow a tutorial, like this:
- paint, any you like.
- pouring medium: take Floetrol (the most known), or Pouring medium by any brand (I often use Mont Martre pouring medium).
- disposable cups and sticks,
- a canvas,
- a hairdryer.
Insider tip: there are some ready-to-use starter packs on Amazon - everything is included: paint, canvas, cups, sticks, palette knife, boards, etc - it will be enough to create 3 acrylic pourings!! One of these starter kits is Nicpro 26 Colors Pour Paint Kit for only $35.99.
30 – Paint a tree or a forest with acrylic paint
Insider tip: to paint trees and forest you can use Fan brush, it will make the process easier. You can also use a palette knife to create 3D crowns.
You can create a tree like this too, as a symbol of time and seasons changing:
31 – Easy plants painting for beginners
It could be a plant in minimalistic modern interiors or a plant in the garden, or just a big monstera leaf – use your imagination.
32 – Desserts and candies
We need to love what we are doing, right? I adore sweets and I think it can be fun to paint something that you like to eat.
Macarons, cakes, lollipops…everything!
33 – Woman with acrylics
Female paintings just make you stare at them – they are powerful and purely beautiful. It is ok if you now can’t paint faces or hair, you can always play around with it without losing quality in beauty.
34 – Kids: mom and daughter acrylic painting or son and father, or a whole family
Family painting can be a great memory and a nice gift for grandparents, parents for anniversaries.
35 – Paint a bird on a branch
Easy and romantic painting in acrylic:
36 – Christmas acrylic painting
Can be a nice decoration or a gift to create a Christmas atmosphere. Paint snowman, candles, Christmas tree, gifts, Santa – so many ideas!
37 – Coastal art with acrylic
Coast it is not only the beach, but it can also be a completely different landscape! Even a beach can be shown from a new point of view. Experiment, don’t stick only to the white sand beaches.
38 – Paint acrylics with fingers
Let’s be fully free and feel like we are kids again. Feel the paint, feel the process. Plus, our fingers will create an individual texture for your painting, as all prints are unique. These sunflowers were created by fingers!
39 – Easy Acrylic painting with palette knife
I love it! You don’t use any brushes, you apply paint with palette knives – there are at least 5 different shapes of palette knives you can use.
With a palette knife, you can paint landscapes, abstract art, flowers, portraits.
40 – Clouds acrylic painting
Clouds painting can teach you to work with white color, creating light-weighted paintings. It doesn’t have to be always blue clouds!
Use sponge or even palette knife to create clouds. Or experiment with brushes.
41 – Gradient
We are learning to blend paint when we do gradients. In fact, we use gradients all the time: backgrounds, sunsets, sunrise, etc.
A gradient by itself can be a nice abstract painting or you can turn it later into a sunset.
42 – Paint acrylic with Q tips
Extremely easy and interesting to paint with Q tips, it is perfect for any round shapes and detailed work. It is also cheap, as you don’t need a brush set, you can use Q tips from your bathroom.
Insider tip: you can use 1 Q tips or bend several tips with different colors on it.
43 – Acrylic painting rose
One of the most popular flowers is a Rose. Painting a rose needs a bit of patience, but you are free to use brushes, q tips, palette knives, or your fingers.
Always paint roses in layers!
44 – Easy Sunflower acrylic painting
Van Gogh made it and so can we! Sunflowers can be made with a palette knife and fingers too.
45 – Tulip acrylic painting
Did you know that each color of tulips has a meaning? For ex., Yellow tulips are the symbol of friendship.
46 – Lavender with acrylic paint
The easiest way to paint lavender with acrylics is to do it with Q tips.
Another option is a palette knife, it’s more complicated and has a different effect, like in this Youtube tutorial:
47 – Acrylic painting diptych or triptych
What if our idea is bigger than 1 canvas? Professional artists often create painting series or 2-3 paintings which are connected by theme, colors, style.
Easy diptych can be abstract painting, acrylic pouring, reflections, seasons, inverted colors of the same painting, and so on – you see, it is really easy to get ideas!
48 – Easy Zodiac acrylic painting
Your painting can be very personal – you can paint your zodiac sign: constellation, real creature, or any other way you see it.
It is easy to paint: paint the background with a sponge, take a liner and create a constellation. Add highlights.
49 – Pumpkin for Halloween
50 – Wedding theme for acrylic painting
Could be a wonderful gift or a piece of memory for your living room or bedroom!
Again, if you’re not comfortable with painting faces, don’t! You can see how many artists completely ignore them, don’t evaluate all paintings that it should be only realism, no!
51 – Painting contours
It is something new and very popular! People sell it for hundreds of dollars! You can find a lot of contour painting on Pinterest, it is usually faces, hands, flowers or leaves, bodies.
52 – Acrylic painting quote
This is a great idea for your workplace, write something motivational to remind you why you started what you’re doing.
Some motivation quotes ideas to paint:
- Enjoy the little things.
- Tough times don’t last.
- A problem is a chance for you to do your best.
- A little progress each day adds up to big results.
- Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.
- Don’t stop until you’re proud.
- Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
- Follow Your Passions.
- Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
- The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.
- Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
53 – Acrylic painting with fruits, berries, vegetables
Perfect for kitchen or dining room. Try to make it the way you want to eat it – juicy, bright, fresh!
I love watermelon, so here we go, a watermelon painting tutorial from Youtube:
54 – Easy Heart acrylic painting
Try to be creative and not paint just a red heart, which is also completely fine.
55 – Lips with acrylic paint
Basically, you need colors for the background, red and titanium white to mix red tints and add highlights. You can also create lips with lipstick or surrealistic lips.
56 – Painting eyes
I find eyes painting one of the most powerful art pieces. Eyes can express so much!
57 – Nude art
Painting a human body is quite difficult, you need to know anatomy and paint the right shades.
58 – Cappadocia ballons
This is a really easy and unique tutorial of Cappadocia balloons painting:
59 – Movie heroes
When I first saw Mandalorian, I was a fan of Baby Yoda, and not only me, there are so many babies now all over the Internet, haha.
It could be done cartoon style, it could be more realistic, it could be your own vision. Find a scene or a photo of your favorite character, print it, and paint!
60 – Pop art acrylic painting ideas
Pop art is actually an art movement and not a technique. It means you can do it with any medium, including acrylics.
61 – Acrylic painting impasto technique
Impasto is when you apply thick layers of paint, even directly from the tube. You can also use a palette knife. It creates incredible texture and three-dimensional effects. You will need a special impasto or heavy gel.
62 – Acrylic Painting with masking tapes
Masking tape can help you create extra framing to your painting or nice edges between shapes and objects.
Use only masking tape, not another type of tape!
63 – Garden scene
Garden scenes require a lot of patience and working on small details, it is absolutely doable by a beginner, but maybe not the best choice if you want faster results.
64 – A bicycle with a basket of flowers in acrylics
It is a very traditional theme to paint, so why not?
65 – A view from your window
Where do you live? It doesn’t have to be a villa next to the ocean, but it still can be pretty. Or what you would like to see opening curtains?
66 – A winter scene
Winter is easy to paint and can be a nice decoration. I don’t like winter as it’s cold, but I love winter scene acrylic painting!
67 – Autumn with acrylic paint
Easy autumn paintings are autumn trees, forests, and leaves. You will need warm colors: red, yellow, orange.
Insider tip: to paint a leaf simply get one real leaf from the park, paint it and place it on the canvas - you will transfer it to the canvas and then can add detail with brush.
68 – 4 seasons in one painting
This is a great idea to put all season in one painting. You can paint a tree, split the canvas into 4 parts and each part will have its own season and how a tree looks like in winter, in summer, or during autumn. Or the same landscape in 4 seasons.
It could also be an idea for triptych or even quadriptych.
69 – Reflections with acrylic paint
Mastering reflections is an important step to paint water, glass, mirrors.
70 – Road
Highway, the road in the mountains or the forest – so many ideas! Road ad a symbol of life and endless traveling.
71 – Surrealism with acrylic paint
Did you know that the surrealism movement idea was to knock subconsciousness on the door to release creativity?
Surrealism is characterized by dream-like ideas, the use of symbols, lack of logic, and bizarre objects. It means – frees yourself and creates what never existed!
72 – Sunset or sunrise from plane
Have you ever flying during sunset or sunrise – it is spectacular! You can never see this type of beauty on the ground.
I would suggest to paint it on small size canvas.
73 – Easy Tour Eiffel acrylic painting
Tour Eiffel is a symbol, romantic symbol, of Paris. Did you know that many years ago, artists and writers hated it and even left the city to not see it?!
Here is a Youtube tutorial to paint Tour Eiffel in Paris easily:
74 – Easy Pyramids acrylic painting
The shape of pyramids is easy to create for a beginner, you also don’t need a lot of colors and complex details to work on.
75 – Nuclear Explosion in acrylic
Why not? Why we should always paint the same landscapes and not trying something new? Nuclear explosions are devastating and bring a lot of death, let keep them only on canvas.
Painting explosion will be similar to painting clouds.
76 – Post apocalypse scene acrylic painting
There are a lot of fans of post-apocalypse culture. It can be your imagination or a scene from a game or a movie.
77 – Acrylic painting feather
You can create amazing feathers with acrylic pouring. Peacock feather is the most popular for acrylic painting, but you can absolutely paint any feather you like.
78 – Windows from street, house facade
Old small European towns and villages, flowers, the smell of pastry…
79 – Copy of your favorite painting
One of my first paintings was an attempt to copy my favorite artist. It was a great lesson and I’m very proud that I made it.
80 – Sport painting: surfer, football, golf
Any sport you like can work. I mentioned that I copied an artist, that was a surfer painting:
81 – Waterfall acrylic painting
Google waterfalls or take a picture of a waterfall in your region if you are lucky as I am (I live in Bali and there are so many secret waterfalls!).
Start painting with background and darker areas. Clear water and white highlights will come last.
82 – Village scenery acrylic painting
I grew up in a village and my parents still live there. Villages changer so much for the last 20 years. We may soon forget how was it, but it still has its own charm.
83 – Acrylic painting car or motorbike
For modern interior design, a sports car painting or a custom bike could be great!
84 – Easy flamingos with acrylic
Flamingos are actually regarded as the most beautiful tall birds in the world. When people keep flamingos in captivity, they lose pink shades and turn yellowish. So paint happy and free flamingo!
Here is an easy tutorial to paint flamingo with acrylic paint:
85 – Portrait without face
Human faces are really hard to paint, sometimes it turns out very bad. So the trick is to paint a portrait without a face.
86 – Acrylic painting: dance, dancer
Dance is another art expressing soul and emotions without words and sometimes even better than a text.
87 – Rainbow acrylic painting
Rainbow can be painted itself or can be implemented in your painting.
88 – Dolphins acrylic painting
Dolphins are so beautiful and smart. They actually can paint too!
89 – A whale in acrylic
You can paint a tale of the whale or a whole whale.
90 – Easy Koi fish acrylic painting
Easy to paint, can be done in 90 minutes a koi fish acrylic painting like this:
91 – Ideas for acrylic painting on round canvas
Acrylic painting and pouring look amazing on round canvases.
92 – Storm and lightning acrylic painting
93 – Easy Northern lights acrylic painting
The usual colors Northen lights have are pink, green, yellow, blue, violet, and occasionally orange and white.
94 – Wine and wine glass
You can choose your favorite drink instead of wine.
95 – Safari
The easy safari painting would be a sunset safari with silhouettes: elephants, giraffes, lions, etc.
96 – Japanese style paintings
Japanese themes include a variety of ideas: geisha, Japanese village or city, Japanese landscape, and flowers.
97 – Ballet acrylic painting
Ballet painting was popular among artists of all schools and times. Ballet is easy to paint, be careful with hands and proportions!
98 – Buddha or other spiritual
We all believe in something, it could be a great gift for someone spiritual and nice detail for a yoga studio.
99 – Sailing boat acrylic painting
Boats and sea were popularized in the painting by Aivazovsky. Water can be hard to paint, so choose easy ideas:
100 – A veiw from a keyhole
Interesting idea! On another side could be a garden or a room, or a magic universe!
101 – Aesthetic minimalist acrylic painting
This is a modern art movement based on simplicity. It is really easy and looks professional. Pinterest is full of ideas.
How painting affects mental health
Finally, I want to remind you why you absolutely should continue painting and be more self-confident.
- it is simply your hobby, your time for yourself, your way to see the world and to switch from everyday routine. Art is you! You are creative, amazing and special.
- Painting and art can help you express yourself without words and say even more than you could.
- Art has an immense impact on our mental health and brain activity NO matter what skills you have!
- Expressing yourself through painting can help your with depression, anxiety, or even cancer.
- Painting improves memory, reasoning, and resilience in healthy older people.
- Art helps to prevent dementia, cognitive impairment and other age effects
- Painting helps to recover from illnesses
- Painting prevent loneliness and isolation.
- Art helps to build emotional and mental well-being and make it stable
- Painting reduces stress even on hormone level.
- Painting keeps you mindful and self-compassionate.
- Painting brings you to the state of the flow which lead to boost of creativity and innovative thinking.
- Art encourage creative, critical thinking and we develop problem-solving skills painting.
- When we look at the paintings we like, our blood flow to the brain is increased the same 10% as when we are looking at somebody we love.
How does this work? It works because we not only paint with acrylics but because we imagine, reuse, and experiment with different textures, colors, supports, and mediums. It keeps our brain active, attentive and motivates us to find new ways, which means our brain builds new paths.
The most important thing that makes art so powerful tool for happiness is mistaking. We are learning through mistakes, and our brain rewards learning. So please, be happy every time you make a mistake – you grow.
One more piece of advice: be focused on your painting. Don’t talk, don’t be distracted. Make sure this time is for you and your canvas, and nothing is bothering you. This is a sort of creative meditation. Use it to build your well-being.