Acrylic paints – first steps

January 2nd, 2019 / Illustrations Basics, Painting Techniques

Welcome to the first entry in the new 2019. Although only yesterday we had the first day of January, we do not slow down the pace and analyze another type of paint. In this post I wanted to write a few words about acrylics – a relatively new technique, because it’s just over 60 years old. With this entry we will conclude the series of articles dedicated to paints and painting techniques at the same time. Enjoy reading.

how it all started

As I mentioned above, acrylic paints are probably the latest novelty in this field. Founded in the 1950s in the USA as a kind of competition / cheaper alternative to oil paints and at the same time a slightly more affordable solution. These paints can theoretically be included in the category of water-based paints, because they are actually soluble in water. There is, however, a certain problem associated with this, which will be discussed in a moment.

acrylic paints in tubes Turdus Concept

Acrylics are, as the name suggests, paints based on acrylic resin (synthetic polymer). We will skip here a precise description on what polymers are. However, if you are interested, I refer to sources on the web. A good acrylic paint is characterized by the fact that it contains only pigment in addition to the resin base. The cheapest paints also have fillers that impair the concealing properties or have a negative effect on the consistency and durability of the paint coating. After drying, the colors may become dim and dull.

At this point, we will explain what I actually mean by writing about the problem with the classification of acrylic paints. Well, acrylics usually occur in three types of density, on which the final effects of our work will depend.

  1. Starting from the most dense ones, they are so-called Heavy Body paints – they have a thick, buttery consistency reminiscent of oil paints. They enable work in the impasto technique.
  2. The next type are liquid Fluid paints with a density similar to that of a fondant cream.
  3. The last type is the so-called paints High Flow – the rarest, with the density of drawing ink, which allows painting with airbrush. This type of paint can be found, for example, in the form of canned sprays. You can also paint them successfully using an airbrush.

Each of these types of paint is obtained with the help of another acrylic resin, which is why a thinner paint with a high flow characteristic is not obtained, for example, from the dense one only by adding water. Yes, paint will be thinner, but it will also lose its concealing properties. The coating itself will become more dull after drying, and in places it may also peel. The colors, in turn, will be less saturated.

diverse acrylic paints density Turdus Concept

For this reason, dedicated acrylic media are recommended for working with acrylic paints. With their help, we will combine or thin out paints, affect their coverage or delay drying. If you are going to try out this type of paint, you should ask the seller for advice and purchase the right products or explore the topic online if you buy online.

water or non-water technique?

It can not be concealed, however, that acrylic paints are nevertheless soluble in water, and therefore can be classified as a water technique. Washing tools, pallets or possible dilution (especially if these paints are painted by children) is done using water. While working, they are not resistant to its operation, however, after the paint dries, we will not remove any dirt without the use of solvent or mechanically – a scraper, spatula or other tool.

Acrylic paints are relatively easy to use. Because the drying of subsequent layers is very short (in comparison to, for example, oil paints), the whole picture can be created much faster. Depending on the type of paint, the coating may dry from 15 minutes to an hour. The ease of working with acrylics also means that you can easily remove any errors with water. These are also paints that we can use on various types of substrates, thus ensuring great freedom in the subject and use. We can mix acrylics with other painting techniques – the sub-paint made with acrylic paints, and the oil finish.

acrylic paint work -lilly Turdus Concept

To work with acrylic paints, synthetic brushes with soft bristles are recommended, however I recommend to everyone to test what is the most convenient for him. A novelty are special spatulas and sticks with various shapes of flexible endings, which allow to obtain interesting, inaccessible effects.

Because acrylics are non-toxic (although some paints may have a slightly intense odor), they are recommended for learning, especially for the youngest painters who are just beginning their adventure with art. The advantages are certainly lower cost of the paints and tools themselves compared to the oil technique, for which acrylics are an alternative.

I hope that the above analysis will help you in making the first steps in this painting technique. If you have already dealt with them, be sure to share your observations in the commentary. And if you have any questions about the article, also write boldly. To read next week. Fruitful creation!