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Acrylic Paints Acrylic Paints
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Acrylic Paints
Acrylic paint is fast-drying, synthetic media containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Essentially, they are  plastic paints that have good adhesive qualities, can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water) or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with the other media. They are very stable, resist oxidization and chemical decomposition, and will not yellow over time.


Acrylic V/s Oil
The primary difference between acrylics and oil paints is the inherent drying time. Oils permit more time to blend colors and apply even glazes over under-paintings. This slow drying aspect of oil can be seen as an advantage for certain techniques, but in other regards it impedes the artist trying to work quickly. 

The fast evaporation of water from the acrylic paint film can be slowed with the use of Acrylic retarders. Retarders are generally glycol or glycerin based additives. In the case of acrylic paints, the addition of a retarder slows the evaporation rate of the water, and allows for more water to be added and the paint workable, until the retarder has left the film and the paint layer is dry.

Oil paints tend to require the addition of a toxic solvent, such as mineral spirits or turpentine to thin the paints and clean up tools, though relatively recently water soluble oil paints have been developed for artist use. Also, oil paint films become increasing yellow and brittle, and will lose their flexibility in a few decades. Whereas, the rules of "fat over lean" must be employed to ensure the oil paint films are durable. This is not needed for acrylics.

Oil paint is able to absorb more pigment than acrylic because linseed oil has a smaller molecule than does acrylic. Oil has a different Refractive Index than Acrylic dispersions. This changes how light interacts with the paint films.

Due to acrylics more flexible nature and more consistent drying time between colors, the painter does not have to follow the "fat over lean" rule of oil painting, where more medium must be applied to each layer to avoid cracking. While canvas needs to be properly primed and gessoed before painting with oil, acrylic can be safely applied to raw canvas. The rapid drying of the paint tends to discourage the blending of color and use of wet-in-wet technique unique to oil painting. While acrylic retarders can slow drying time to several hours, it remains a relatively fast-drying medium, and the addition of too much acrylic retarder can prevent the paint from ever drying properly.

Although the permanency of acrylics is sometimes debated by conservators, they appear more stable than oil paints. Whereas oil paints normally turn yellow as they age/dry (oxidize)—and require a removable protective layer of varnish—acrylic paints, at least in the 50 years since their invention, have not yellowed, cracked, or altered.

Another great difference between oil and acrylic paints is the versatility offered by acrylic paints - acrylic is very useful in mixed media, allowing use of pastel (oil & chalk), charcoal, pen, etc on top of the dried acrylic painted surface. Mixing other bodies into the acrylic is possible - sand, rice, even pasta may be incorporated in the artwork. Mixing artist or student quality acrylic paint with household acrylic emulsions is possible, allowing the use of pre-mixed tints straight from the tube or tin, so presenting the painter with a vast color range at his disposal.


Since acrylic paints are very adhesive and flexible by nature, they can be used on almost any surface. The ideal surface is a slightly textured one such as heavy paper or canvas. However, it is a good idea to use an acrylic emulsion "gesso" to prepare the surface that is to be painted. 



Depending on the artists preference, both natural and synthetic bristles may be used with acrylics. But, as acrylics are alkaline in nature, they can be hard on natural hair brushes.

The brushes must be kept clean. Clean brushes promptly by washing them with warm water and mild soap when finished painting.


Once acrylic paint dries in a brush it is very hard to get out without using strong solvents that might damage the brush.


Artist Grade V/s Student Grade

Artists Grade Acrylics contain high quality, finely ground and milled pigments, chosen for lightfastness and clarity of color as well as mixing qualities. They also have more resin solids.

Student Grade Acrylics use pre-milled pigment dispersions, where-in most colors are mixed or blended instead of being used pure in an acrylic binder. They have lower Pigment concentrations, and contain fillers.


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