As you might know, acrylic uses exactly the same pigments as watercolor or oil painting. Its main difference is that it must be diluted with a binding agent made from acrylic acid. This formula creates a water-soluble finish — either matte or glossy — that is extremely resistant to oxidation and dries quickly and effectively.
The acrylic technique emerged with the dynamism of the twentieth century and its frenzied activity. Like the city, acrylic paint and its drying speed blend in with modern times and the immediacy of the here and now. Pollock or Warhol portrayed some of its greatest examples. In the following guide, we will unravel everything there is to know about acrylic paintings.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Acrylic Paints
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Acrylic Paint
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Acrylic painting is one of the most appreciated techniques by artists for its versatility. Its pigments are diluted in a synthetic resin that creates a water-soluble, rust-resistant paint that dries incredibly quickly.
- As if that weren't enough, this type of paint can adapt well, making it suitable for a variety of surfaces, such as wood, metal, paper or canvas. The manufacturers often indicate on the label which surfaces their product is designed for.
- If you've already decided to buy your own set of acrylic paint, you should pay attention to a series of purchasing criteria. These include the consistency of the pigments, the color palette available or the format you need to get started with this painting technique. It's also a fantastic gift for artsy friends and family.
Our Selection: The Best Acrylic Paints
Whether you're a professional painter, an acrylic newbie or simply want to make a gift to an artist, you'll want to have a good assortment of pigments handy. Since choosing the right product can be quite a challenge, we've selected some of the best acrylic paints on the market to help you make your purchase.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Acrylic Paint
What is acrylic painting exactly?
Because of their strong adhesion, acrylic paints can be used on a variety of surfaces beyond canvas. You can, for instance, paint on plastic, but also wood, metal, fabrics or glass, among others. In the list below, you can discover all the benefits that acrylic paint will offer:
- Quick-drying. You'll be saving time because it allows you to apply another layer faster.
- Odorless. Since it doesn't emit any strong smell, you can easily use acrylic paint indoor.
- Adhesive to various materials. Its adhesive properties make it a useful support for materials such as cement, stonework or even certain plastics — all of which must be readied beforehand.
- Resistant. Its color and shine are lasting, and it even resists the effects of sunlight.
- Flexible. Acrylic paint can expand and contract, preventing the appearance of cracks.
- Evaporation of humidity. This material is breathable.
- Versatile. Acrylic paint is often used as a base for mixed techniques with various materials. It can be combined with spatulas, varnishes or rollers, among other tools.
What is the main drawback of acrylic paint?
What painting techniques work with acrylics?
- Sponge painting. As its name suggests, you use a sponge to apply the paint with soft touches.
- Drybrush. This technique consists of applying acrylic with a relatively dry brush, providing movement and texture.
- Glaze. Just like watercolor, the paint is diluted in water before its application. Its effect is similar to color wash and the finish is translucent.
What are the most common acrylic mediums?
|Acrylic medium||Type of effect|
|Gel medium||You can do your own, but it's easier to purchase it. Just like oil, it gives stable volume to the and can be light or dense depending on your preference.|
|Texture medium||This gel provides greater texture than the previous one and is generally mixed with sand granules or other materials.|
|Transparent gel medium||This medium creates a flexible and semi-transparent paint once it dries. It is ideal for transparencies and glazes.|
|Slow-drying medium||As its name suggests, it delays the quick drying of acrylic paints so that you have more time before it dries once applied.|
|Flow increase medium||It replaces water so that the acrylic paint concentrates the original pigments with more stability.|
What are the best surfaces for acrylic paint?
|Type of surface||Does it require a primer?|
|Prepared boards, cardboard, and paper||They're suitable for acrylic paint with or without primer. If you do apply a primer, you should stress it beforehand because of its excessive weight.|
|Canvas||It requires priming.|
|Murals||The finish will be matt if they're not primed, and glossy if they are.|
|Metal||Zinc and copper are particularly convenient. They should be sanded beforehand.|
|Wooden panels||Priming isn't needed unless you're working with hardboard, which requires sanding and acrylic priming.|
How can I clean a canvas with acrylic paint?
- Check that the paint is dry. This is the first step to follow. Acrylics dry right away, so it shouldn't be a problem. Still, you must check it and avoid touching the paint until at least 24 hours after your last session.
- Wipe the dust off with a brush. A soft-bristled one would be ideal, although you can also use a duster for this. Wipe gently from top to bottom.
- You can use soap and water. This is another option with which you need to be very careful. If you have any doubts, you are advised to check with a restorer. If you do it yourself, prepare a very mild solution of water and detergent. The less detergent you use, the better it will be.
- Dampen a cloth in the solution. Use it to slowly and gently remove the dirt so as not to damage the paint in any way. The cloth should be in near dry condition. Certain acrylic paints are diluted with water, so be very careful.
Even if you're a painting enthusiast, there are a certain number of criteria that you should become familiar with if this is your first time using acrylics for your works. You'll also need to have quality brushes, a palette to blend your colors and a retardant since this paint dries quickly. The following aspects will help you make a successful purchase:
You should be quite mindful of this factor, as it is mostly determined by your level of painting experience. If you're a professional artist, you will prefer specific tubes of acrylic paint, while you may want to opt for larger sets if you're an amateur painter. In any case, you are not advised to purchase more than you think you need, as you may end up wasting money.
Cyan (sky blue), magenta and yellow are basic colors with which you'll be able to create virtually any other hues as long as you also have black and white. That being said, red can be challenging to make and you are recommended to purchase it. As you noticed in our selection of products earlier, the good news is that you can easily find sets with a wide variety of colors.
In the same vein, we encourage you to check which colors you'll need for your paintings before you head online to buy a product. If you're not quite sure or need a certain range of options, cases with 24 tubes of acrylic paint will make your life easier.
Surfaces and Supports
As you know, acrylics don't necessarily have to be done on canvas. You can also use this paint on wood, plastics, metal or even glass. Simply think about what surface you want to paint on, and choose the acrylic product that is most suitable for that specific support. In our selection of products, you may have realized that the manufacturers tend to specify this on the tube of paint.
The consistency of your acrylic paint is another essential criterion. Generally speaking, quality acrylic paint should be as consistent as oil paint straight out of the tube. Don't forget that the more consistent it is, the more pigments it will contain. If you prefer it to be more liquid, you can always dilute it in water for a watercolor effect. Manufacturers often provide the information necessary for this.
The quality of acrylic paints is naturally a key factor, in particular if you're a professional artist. The list of products we've created for you features high-quality products that will last a lifetime once applied to your canvas. Again, we can't emphasize enough on the importance of selecting quality acrylics. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes.
User Reviews and Ratings
If you want to obtain additional information regarding the acrylic paints you're interested in purchasing, you are advised to check the opinions of past users. These ratings and reviews generally include professional artists' perspectives that will help you make your final decision. You may even learn certain technical aspects that you weren't aware of.
Acrylic paint offers so many advantages that it's almost impossible not to use it if you're an amateur or professional painter. It dries quickly and allows you to make an incredible variety of painterly effects. In addition, acrylics won't give off unpleasant odors as oil painting does during your sessions. Now's the time to get started with acrylic paint if you haven't already.
In our selection of the best acrylic products of 2022, you can choose the most appropriate paint based on your level of experience. Some of them are even suitable for professional artists. Remember to evaluate key criteria before making our purchase, such as the consistency of the pigments or the range of colors available in the set.
We hope that you found our guide on acrylic paint useful. If that's the case, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below and we'll be happy to get back to you. You can also share our article on your social media so that others can learn more about this type of paint!
(Source of Featured Image: Dolgachov: 100899032/ 123rf.com)