Acrylics are great for so many styles and techniques of painting.
This paint can be used straight from the tube, thinned with water or thickened with acrylic paste.
It’s available in a number of different forms for both crafters and artists.
Although there is some overlapping, an artist will generally use artist grade paints in lieu of the crafter’s brands, as they are typically of a higher quality.
Heavy Body Acrylic Paints
Just like oil paints, heavy body acrylics are packaged in tubes. However, if you use a great deal of color, you can purchase larger jars of paint from some manufacturers. These are economical, but unless you are painting massive murals, stick with the standard tubes. The tubes are available in several sizes, so choose smaller tubes for colors you don’t use often and perhaps a larger tube for paints you use up quickly.
Soft Body Acrylic Paints
Both crafters and painters can use soft body paints. They are suitable for airbrush, fabric painting, watercolor techniques, printmaking, silk-screening and decorative painting.
The paints have less filler and opacifiers, so they are liquid and creamy. The paint is packaged in jars or plastic bottles and is available in a number of sizes. The color choices can include all the typical artist’s hues, and the manufacturer may also add many fun and unusual crafter’s pre-mixed shades. These pre-mixed color choices makes acrylics great for fast and easy painting without time-consuming color mixing. That’s one reason crafters prefer this type of paint over tube paints.
Student Grade Paint
Student grade Acrylic Paints are less costly and may seem like a good deal when compared against the price of professional grade acrylics. However, they are cheaper for a reason. Student grade paints usually have more filler. That means that you won’t get the intense vibrancy you see in professional grade paints. This also means that you may end up using more paint to get the look you’re going for, and that initial cost savings slowly fades away.
If you’re really on a tight budget, student grade paint is better than no paint at all, but try to replace your student paints with professional grade as you use up your original tubes.
Professional Grade Paint
Professional grade paints are more brilliant and have more pigment than student grade paints. This gives them a greater tinting power, and you need less paint to blend and mix colors.
The opaque colors provide more covering power and the translucent paints are richly vibrant when used in glazes. Professional grade paints are often available in a wider array of colors than student paints. While student lines offer the basic colors, some professional lines may have almost twice as many colors as their student grade counterpart.
Acrylic Paints are rather chameleon-like. Add water and they can be used to create watercolor paintings. Use the paint right out of the tube, and you have a good imitation of an oil painting.
Although your work may look like a watercolor or oil painting, acrylics do behave differently than those two mediums, and a student should understand the characteristics of acrylic paint to use it to its best advantage.
Remember that acrylic paint is permanent and stains. If you want to change the look of an area, there’s no wetting and blotting like you do when you’re unhappy with a watercolor passage. Once it’s dry, your acrylic paint is there for the long haul. If you’re using the paint like a watercolor, that’s pretty much it. However, if you’re painting with thick applications of paint, you can scrape away most of the offending color.
Another great thing about acrylics is that it can be painted on almost any surface. Use it on canvas, board, watercolor paper. If you’re a crafter, it can be painted on fabric, glass, metal, plastic or stone.
Quick drying time is one of the great things about acrylics. Oil painters need to wait days, weeks or months for their paintings to dry. An acrylic artist needs only to take a quick coffee break or answer the phone. By the time an artist comes back to the easel, his canvas is ready for another layer of paint.
This is a boon for an artist that wants results quickly or doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait for paint to dry. Plein air painting or transporting a piece to and from a class are perfect examples of the convenience of acrylic paints. By the time you’ve packed up your supplies, your painting can be transported easily and safely. Unlike oil paints, all the pigments have similar drying times, so you can easily maintain your painting speed.
That quick drying time can also be the bane of your existence. If you enjoy lingering over a painting, picking out details and working at a leisurely pace, acrylics may be frustrating. No lollygagging allowed.
Of course, you can add an extender to your paint to slow down the drying time, but you can only loiter so long.
Artist’s Additives – Mediums
If you want to change the consistency, flow or appearance of your acrylic paint, there are a lot of additives you can use. You can make the paint flow more easily or thicken the paint for use with a palette knife. You can increase the shine, or give your paint a matte finish. There are mediums to make the acrylic more translucent or to add iridescence to your colors. You can even slow down the drying time so you can dawdle to your heart’s content.
Acrylics are truly a wonder for an inquisitive artist. You can try out so many techniques without spending a fortune on different paints. The brands are all interchangeable, so you can mix and match from whatever brands you choose. These mediums add so much versatility to your work that it’s like using a different paint at every session.
Whether you’re an artist painting serious work for big bucks or a weekend crafter who enjoys making home décor and gift items, acrylic paints should be in everyone’s paint box.
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Watercolor – Where to Start
Watercolor Paint Brands
Watercolor Paint Brushes
Watercolor Basic Painting Techniques
Advanced Watercolor Painting Techniques
Watercolor Painting Accessories
Watercolor Painting Tips and Tricks
Acrylics – Where to Start
Acrylic Paints (This Article)
Acrylic Paint Brands
Acrylic Painting Support
Acrylic Paint Brushes
Acrylic Painting Techniques
Acrylic Painting Accessories
Acrylic Painting Tips and Tricks
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