Painting Terms and Techniques in Painting

The following polyurea techniques and terms are used throughout the oil, watercolor and acrylic art world. Having a better understanding of these items should make learning painting more enjoyable to the new artist. Hopefully as a beginning art student, you are following tutorials where you progress on your journey to creating the next masterpiece, try incorporating some of the following items into your artwork.


This is the term that is used to describe a source of art material. Artists use several types of material to create art. Sometimes they even use more than one medium in a single piece of art. A few art mediums include; oil, acrylic, and watercolor paint, pencil, charcoal, and pastel. So if you hear the term medium, it simply refers to the source of art material that is on the paper or canvas.


This is a technique that is used very often when painting with any medium. You can use a dabbing technique to make trees, bushes, flowers, and even grasses. Simply use a flat bristle brush, dip it in the paint, and then touch the tip of the brush to the canvas or paper. You can press harder for a thicker application of paint or lighter for a thinner application. When using the dabbing technique with oil paint, be very careful not to muddy successive colors.

For example, when painting bushes, apply the darkest under-painting color first, then apply highlights to areas of the bush using a lighter color. Since the first color will still be wet, you need to be extremely careful not to smudge the lighter color into the darker color, unless of course that is what your intentions are. With acrylic paint, it’s extremely easy to just wait 10 minutes or less before adding the highlight color because the under-painting dries that quickly.

Leaving negative space

Notice the negative space in the pine tree photo that accompanies this article. The space within the leaves is not filled in with paint!. Too many times beginners try to fill in the entire space. In art classes, I have even had to hold the hand and paint brush of students to prevent them from filling in the entire space. Doing this always makes people laugh, and then they have that ahaaa moment where they see that their tree looks more lifelike by doing this.

Dry Brushing

This is a technique that is used in many acrylic paintings. It requires getting the smallest amount of paint on a dry brush and then literally brushing it onto the painting with extremely light strokes. Because dry brushing is used for things like mist and sun rays (things you can typically see through) it is critical that it is done with a very light hand.

Dry-brushing is also used to make objects look weathered or old. It’s okay to practice these techniques on paper before starting your first lesson on a canvas. Once you are comfortable with the technique, it can be used to add sun rays, mist or fog. Dry-brushing is a very effective technique for adding drama to an otherwise plain painting.


Simply wipe off the brush, add some lighter color and dab on or dry-brush touches of lighter color where the sun would be touching items such as trees, leaves wood or grass. Everything has more than one color to it. Light is always reflecting and changing the appearance of items. Be sure to add varying colors to your works. The highlight colors usually get lighter as you proceed.

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