Why Does Your Acrylic Paint Look So Streaky? 

Why Does Your Acrylic Paint Look So Streaky

At some point, nearly everyone has painted with acrylic. It’s one of the most popular types of paint for canvases. Sometimes, however, it can come out looking streaky. 

Your acrylic paint looks streaky because you’re painting too large an area, the paint is too thick, you’re using the wrong paintbrush, or the paint is low-quality. You can fix the issue by using smaller strokes, diluting your paint, and using the right brush. Also, use professional acrylic paints. 

This article will examine why your acrylic paint looks streaky and discuss some things you can do to fix it. Let’s get started. 

One – You’re Painting Too Large of an Area at Once

Painting with acrylics isn’t that much different in this aspect. When you paint too large of an area at one time, it causes the paint to stretch too thin. You don’t have enough paint to cover the area, and, as a result, it will look very streaky. 

If this is the problem, you may also notice the paint layer appears thin. You may be able to see parts of the background underneath.

How To Fix

Streaking caused by painting a large area too fast is a simple issue to fix. If you’re painting too large of an area, simply paint in smaller strokes

When painting, there are times when we need to cover large areas of the canvas. There are a couple of ways to go about doing this. The easiest, of course, is simply running the brush over the canvas in large strokes. However, this creates streaking. 

The best way to paint large areas is to start small and make many small strokes. This technique will ensure practically no streaking. 

However, you can also try painting large areas with other things besides brushes – for example, a foam pad or roller brushes. These typically hold on to the paint better and produce a more solid picture.

Two – The Paint is Too Thick

Acrylic paint is known for being on the thicker side. Because of this, it can also appear streaky when the paint doesn’t spread properly. 

Thick paint will cause deep streaking throughout your painting. The streaking issue is amplified if you use improper brushes that apply the paint in too thick a layer

Most often, the paint will be too thick if it’s been some time since you used it last. You can help to prevent this by massaging the tubes gently before and after use each time. 

How To Fix

It takes some time to learn how to work with acrylic, but one of the best things you can do to prevent streakiness caused by thick paint is to blend it thoroughly. Sometimes, when it comes straight from the tube, it has been sitting for some time, which can cause the texture to be off. 

Another option is to dilute it with a couple of drops of water. Be very careful with this, though. It’s easy to dilute your acrylic too much. It’s not watercolor and can be wrecked if you add too much water. For this reason, I recommend no more than two small drops at a time

You won’t need to thin it too much to get it to a good consistency. Mix after you add your drops, and see if the paint moves fluidly on your mixing palette, then apply to your canvas. If you’ve already painted too thick and want to learn more about fixing acrylic on the canvas, you can learn how in this articleOpens in a new tab., where I explain different ways to your painting.

Three – You’re Using the Wrong Type of Paintbrush

There are hundreds of paintbrush options to choose from, and if you’re new to painting, all the choices can seem a little bit overwhelming. 

With this in mind, it’s not surprising if you’ve chosen the wrong type of paintbrush. So, what’s the right type of brush for acrylic? Well, it depends on what type of painting you’re doing. 

In general, however, you’ll do better with simulated natural brushes. Don’t go cheap on your brushes. In addition, ensure you’re using the right paintbrush for the right job. 

How To Fix

Knowing what type of paintbrush to choose comes with a little education. You can fix this issue by trying out different paintbrushes to see what works best on your canvas and for the section, you’re painting. 

Here are some examples of common paintbrushesOpens in a new tab. and how you can use them. 

  • Wash Brush: Wash brushes are huge and are built to cover large areas. If you need to cover a big area, like when applying a base coat or tinting your canvas, it’s best to use a brush like this, at least for one layer. Because they’re built to cover large areas, they are less likely to streak
  • Flat Brush: These brushes are good for most of your normal strokes. They aren’t great for filling in the details. However, you can experience some streaking from them if you move too fast
  • Round Brush: Round brushes are great for detail. These brushes are the least likely to streak

Remember that choosing the right brush can significantly affect how much streaking shows up on your painting.

Four – The Paint Is Low Quality

Low-quality acrylic is no one’s friend and often produces low-quality paintings. If you’ve purchased your paint from the art package section at your local Walmart, you can’t expect it to be high quality.

Low-quality paints aren’t made with the same materials as professional-grade acrylics. They produce streaky pictures because they clump easily and are thinner than professional paints. 

How To Fix

While you can’t turn low-quality paint into a high-quality one, you can purchase a professional-grade acrylic set. While the professional acrylics run quite a bit higher in price, they’re well worth it when you paint. 

You can consider mixing a little cornstarch into your paint to thicken it for a quick fix. However, remember the cornstarch will affect the color and fluidity of the paint, so use it at your discretion and only add a little at a time. 

With the right types of brushes and the right quality of paint, you’ll hardly ever experience any streaking.

Final Words

If your acrylic is streaking, it typically comes down to either technique or the quality of your materials. You can improve this over time by practicing with various types of acrylic, playing with brushes, and learning to make smaller strokes. Always use good quality brushes and paint whenever you can, and use the right kind of brush for the job to prevent visible streaks. 

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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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