Acrylic Sailboat Painting

Set sail on palette knife painting adventure! Combine a limited palette of vibrant acrylic paints and mediums, then learn tips and tricks for using a palette knife to achieve a variety of interesting textural effects!


1. Print reference image.

2. Make a light sketch or transfer the reference image onto your canvas.

3. Set up your palette by placing colors in order from light to dark.

4. Add water using a pipette to keep acrylics open and workable while on the palette.

5. Use larger brushes to paint broad strokes. Use small round brushes for details.

6. Using the largest flat brush, paint a gradient that goes from dark to light from the top of the canvas down to the center. Then, paint a dark-to-light blue gradient from the bottom up to the center of the canvas.

7. Use Titanium White for the sail on the sailboat. Use Buff White for the reflection of the sail boat.

8. Mix paint colors with acrylic mediums using a palette knife in a 1:1 ratio. Adding more medium will make the paint more transparent with a heavier body.

9. Apply your thickened paint mixture with a palette knife, using the underpainting as a color guide. Use a brush stroke motion to create texture. Paint the water using the same technique.

10. Use a palette knife to apply Titanium White to the sails, and Buff White in the reflection. Then use a brush stroke technique to create texture.

11. Use the palette knife to blur the edges of the sailboat reflection in the water.

12. Use the edge of the palette knife to add details to the boat using Cadmium Red and Ultramarine Blue.