This is what I have learned about the basic steps of acrylic painting.
1. Select your stretched canvas. If prepared in the factory it is ready for use. If homemade, you must gesso the canvas cloth first.
2. Blend white paint with a neutral color to make a lightly tinted color. Paint this over the entire canvas as a base layer wash. You can add water to this to make the wash. The goal is to cover all that white up.
3. Plan your painting with thumbnail sketches for composition.
4. Make some studies on smaller canvases where you work out details like how to paint that bark on the tree or whatever it is you are painting. You want to work through some challenges on small canvasses where the stakes are lower when you fail. You are NOT doing test runs on on the big canvas.
5. Take a pencil or a light gray paint with a fine tipped brush, and sketch crudely on the canvas, the major things.
6. Block in the colors. This is like filling in a coloring book. If you sky will be blue paint it a light or medium blue. If your tree will be green, use green in that area. Paint the background into the objects as the back layer. There should be no white on the canvas now.
7. Paint in the objects starting at the back, the farthest away objects. Start with darkest values. Paint the lighter values on top. Even if you use retarder in your acrylic paint you need to learn your drying time. Do not mess with the paint layer once a skin starts to form or you will get balls and clumps of paint and medium kind of like lint blobs on clothing (but the acrylic cannot be removed). Work an area until it starts to dry then move on to something else.
8. Work the entire painting. Move around the canvas doing some of everything. It is like a cycle. In a landscape you could do sky, trees, ground. Then the next pass after that layer dries is sky, trees, grass. The painting goes from base blocks of color to very detailed in the end, if detailed is your painting style and intention. You don't make final finished grasses when your sky is one flat blue swath. You move around in stages all over the canvas.
One reason for this is if you mess up a placement and need to correct something you won't want to widen the tree trunk if your grass on the ground next to it was 100% complete and perfect. You will have lost time as you have to redo even more, and you will be upset at losing work you felt was finished.
9. If using a glazing technique like I do, you use the opacity of the blended paint to cover up or bring out colors you want to hide or see more of. This is a constant process throughout the painting process. I also add in solid layers of acrylic gel medium in between some layers to add to the glowing effect and I put a clear coat as the final coat too.