Thursday, April 11, 2013

Artist Resources: Painting in Acrylic Paint


Mixing Acrylics on canvas with Golden Stag
Even though I have a love for all things art materials, I do stick primarily to acrylic paint for my own work.  I have worked in many other types of paint, but this is my current and long time favorite.  Perhaps that stems from having first learned how to paint with acrylics when I was a young teen.  Regardless, I am sharing with you a few points on acrylic paint that will give you better insight into the medium.


  • Modern acrylics are a water soluble polymer dispersions made from an acrylic resin, suspended in water and pigment.  They clean up easily with water, but once they dry, they should be considered permanent.
  • Acrylics come in many forms, soft or heavy body, matte or gloss.  Additives can be used to change the working properties, such as transparency or viscosity.  
  • Higher quality acrylics may contain more pigment than lower quality paints.  Lower quality paints have more water and fillers in place of pigment resulting in less potent hues, or lower chroma.  The price of the paint will often lend itself to the type of pigment in the paint.  Pigments are a whole other blog post. ;)
  • Acrylics can adhere to almost any surface, including wood, metal, plastic, fabric, stone or glass.  However, sometimes additives are needed to adhere to less porous or smoother surfaces.  Each manufacturer of acrylics often have their own lines of additives for such purposes.
  • It is advisable to prime a surface with a water based latex or acrylic primer before painting.  If working on an artist surface, like canvas or panel, traditional or acrylic gesso is suitable.  If working on an unusual surface like brick, consider a water based latex primer to help the paint adhere.
  • Acrylics can be thinned with water to a degree.  To get a watercolor effect, thin with water or an acrylic extender.  Consider, however, that once thinned, acrylics lose some of their ability to bind to the substrate.  Thin with water in moderation to prevent peeling or cracking off the surface.
  • Acrylics can be very convenient in that they dry fast and thicker applications are more possible than in other types of paints.
  • Most acrylics remain quite flexible once dry, allowing them sustainably on canvas or fabrics.  
Interlock Bronze
The viscosity of the acrylic paint you've chosen will set the stage for the type of brush you'll need to use.  Softer bodied acrylics, like fluids will warrant softer brushes, like the Black Gold or Faux Sable series.  Heavy bodied paints and gels will do well with natural bristle brushes or stiffer synthetics like the Interlock Bronze series.  

Let me know if you have more questions about acrylics, I'm here to help!

Keep Painting, 
Karyn 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.