Acrylic Paint Tubes, Jars or Fluid?

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Packaging doesn’t seem like something to get all confused over, but the issue is something of a quandary for acrylic painters.

Acrylic paints are offered in both tubes and jars of varying sizes.

Whether you choose convenient tube or economical jars is up to you, but there are a couple things to consider before investing in either.

Tube Acrylics

Tube Acrylic Paints are certainly convenient. They’re small and easy to carry. Tube paint also remains moist for a long time if it’s properly sealed; I have tube acrylics that are usable after a decade of storage.

Different manufacturers also make varying sizes of tubes. Dick Blick offers tubes in 2-ounce, 4.65-ounce, 8-ounce and 16-ounce sizes. Daler-Rowney Cryla Acrylics are only available in 2.5-ounce tubes and Holbein Acryla Paints are packaged in 1.35-ounce tubes.

A problem with tube paints are those little caps. They’re so small that they often just roll away and they are never seen again. There’s also the sticking problem. If you don’t keep the cap and the tube opening clean, you may effectively weld your cap to the tube. Now, you need to use pliers to wrench the tube off and run the risk of smashing the plastic cap. Again, you’re left with a tube of paint and nothing with which to seal it.

However, if you create large canvases or paint a lot, you may want to consider jar paints for colors you use up quickly.

Acrylics In Jars

Painting with Jar Acrylics is one way to save money, as most jar paints are more economical. Liquitex sells 32-ounce jars of the most-used colors, while Tri-Art produces 4-ounce containers of their paint and Pantone sells cute little 2-ounce pots.

A possible hazard of using jar paints is contaminating the color. Dipping a paint-charged brush into a different color pot of paint can effectively ruin the pure color of the paint jar. If you’re not careful, you’ll wind up with a rainbow of polluted paint pots.

Another potential problem is paint drying out. If you work on a small scale or paint infrequently, your jars of paint may dry out. With a tube, the air is forced out as the tube collapses, so the paint remains moist. As a jar becomes empty, the air space increases. The top of the paint will develop a dry skin and over time, the paint dries out.

Fluid Acrylic Paints

Recently, manufacturers have added a new twist to acrylic paints. Fluid Acrylic Paints are another variation to add to your mixed bag of paints.

Liquitex makes 2-ounce, 8-ounce and 32-ounce jars of their fluid paint, while Da Vinci makes 4-ounce and 16-ounce bottles. Other companies also produce bottles and jars of liquid paint from 2-ounce to 32-ounce containers.

Although this formulation of paints won’t do for impasto painting, they’re just right for decorative arts such as silk-screen, stenciling, watercolor technique and fabric painting. They also work well for airbrush, calligraphy and woodblock printing. You can use them on all surfaces such as fabric, ceramics, wood, concrete or any other porous surface.

When it comes to painting with acrylics, you have numerous choices. If you use a lot of White or Alizarin Crimson, buy those colors in a jar for economy. Colors that are used sparingly or infrequently should be purchased in small tubes. If you dilute your acrylics to a watery consistency, you may want to consider the fluid bottles of paint. Don’t feel as though you need to stay with only one paint type. You’ll make the most of your paint expenditure if you choose a formulation that’s right for its intended use.

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