When I used to think of paint and paintings, I would think of either watercolors or oil paints, I never thought of acrylic paint. I had heard of acrylics, but I never really gave them any thought until recently when I saw some wonderful acrylic paintings at the Fairhaven Originals Gallery. There were a couple of things about them that really caught my eye, things that turned out to be advantages of acrylics over other types of paints.
But first, a little bit of history about acrylic paint. Most of us are primarily familiar with oils and watercolors, the first because that is the paint used by all of the old masters; the second because we all used watercolors in school as children. Though ours were on a little tray instead of in tubes! Acrylics have not been around for very long. They were first introduced for use in the art world in the 1950s under the name of Magna by Bocour Artist Colors. These original acrylics were mineral spirit-based paints, though only a few years later water-based acrylic paints became available. Andy Warhol was one of the first famous painters to adopt the use of acrylics. Not much else can be said about acrylics, without discussing their benefits. So here are the advantages of using acrylic paints.
Acrylics can be used with a wide range of techniques. They can be thinned down with water and used as a wash like watercolors or used to build up thick layers of paint, even to the point of having relief features that are sculptural. Anywhere from a gloss to a matte finish can be accomplished using different techniques. It can be used on a wide range of media. Though oil and water paints can be used on different media, acrylics can bond to a greater variety of different surfaces. Besides canvas and paper, acrylics can be used on wood, metal, concrete, stone, and more. Plus, the appearance of the paint can be modified depending upon the surface and other media introduced to the paint. acrylic paints are fast drying. This is one of the primary differences between acrylic paint and oils, and depending upon what you are doing, it is either good or bad. With some techniques, long drying time is beneficial, it allows for more time to blend colors. But for the artist who likes to work quickly, acrylics are a must. It is the fast evaporation of water that allows for the quick drying time, and if it dries too quickly for you, you can add in retarders to slow down the drying Acrylics can be mixed with a wide range of media. You can add a lot of textures and variety to your art by mixing other media into the paint. Some of the possibilities include sand, rice, or pasta. Or, when the acrylic dries, you can use other media, such as charcoal, pen, and pastels on top of the paint. Acrylics seem to be more stable than other paints. They have only been around for 60 years, but so far there are no signs of cracking, yellowing, or other deterioration.
If you have not yet tried acrylic paints, give them a chance. With some of their many advantages, you may be quite pleased with your results.