Acrylic Paint

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  • Acrylic Brushes
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is acrylic paint?

    Acrylic paints are a synthetic media made by suspending pigment in synthetic polymer emulsified by water. They are essentially plastic paints that are water-soluble and have good adhesive qualities. They are very stable. They resist oxidization and chemical decomposition, and will not yellow over time.

  • What are some main advantages and disadvantages of acrylics?

    Acrylic paints dry quickly. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

    The advantage of a fast drying time is that you can apply many layers of paint in a short amount of time. Artists can very effectively use glazing and layering techniques when using acrylics. The layers of paint bind to one another very well because of their good adhesive qualities.

    Another advantage is their water-solubility, as this allows for easier clean-up and reduces the need to use chemicals that may create harmful fumes.

    The disadvantage to paints drying quickly is that there is little time in which an artist can manipulate the paint once it is laid onto the surface. However, there are several acrylic mediums that can slow drying time, increase transparency, or help an artist achieve thick impasto effects with acrylics.

    Acrylic paints dry quickly because they are water based. The time it takes for water to evaporate is how long it takes for these paints to dry.

  • Can I mix acrylic and oil paints?

    Oil paint can be used on top of acrylic paint once it is dry. If acrylic is used over oil paint, the acrylic won't adhere permanently and will likely peel.

  • What is the difference between artist acrylics and craft or exterior acrylics?

    Artist acrylics adhere well to canvas, and have a flexible binder. They are not as well suited to other surfaces, and they do not survive as well when exposed to outdoor elements.

    Exterior grade acrylics concentrate on good lightfastness and a binder with a slightly harder, more durable quality to it. They are not as easily damaged by humidity or extremes of weather.

    Craft acrylics use a binder resin related to fabric paint, but without as much wetting agent, which draws the color into fabric. They can be heat set into fabrics easily.

  • Can I use acrylic paints for sign painting?

    Use only acrylics that are designed for exterior use. Exterior acrylics have a harder and less flexible finish than artist's acrylics, and they resist water. This makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor uses, such as architectural murals and signs.

  • When can I varnish my acrylic painting?

    It depends on how thick the paint is, how long it's been drying, and the relative humidity and temperature of the room in which it's drying. Generally, we suggest waiting at least a week before varnishing your painting. For impasto or thick paint applications you may need to wait even longer.

  • What other supplies should I have on hand for acrylic painting?

    In addition to acrylic paints, brushes, and a painting surface, there are some other key items you'll need. These key acrylic painting supplies are:

    A palette An easel Rags or towels A container for water An apron

  • What kind of brushes work best when using acrylic paints?

    Both natural and synthetic bristles can be used with acrylics, depending on the artist's preference. But, acrylics, being alkaline in nature, can be hard on natural hair brushes.

    The brushes must be kept clean. If acrylic paint dries in a brush it is very hard to get out without using strong solvents that might damage the brush. Clean brushes promptly by washing them with warm water and mild soap when finished painting.

    What is the difference between artist and student grade acrylics?

    Fine artists acrylics use 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 acrylics use pre-milled pigment dispersions, where most colors are mixed or blended rather than used pure in an acrylic binder. Pigment concentrations are lower, and fillers are used.

  • What surfaces are suitable to paint on when using acrylic paints?

    Because acrylic paint is very adhesive and flexible by nature, it can be used on a wide variety of grounds. It is recommended that an acrylic emulsion "gesso" be used to prepare whatever surface is to be painted. The best surface is a slightly textured one, such as masonite or hardboard. Heavy paper and canvas are also excellent surfaces.

  • What's the difference between professional and student-grade paints?

    Professional-grade paints have a higher pigment concentration and less filler, and generally use a wider variety of pigments, resulting in a larger color range. Usually made with a single pigment, they mix more cleanly and have better tinting strength than lower-grade paints.

    Student-grade paints have working characteristics similar to professional paints but with lower concentrations of pigment and a smaller range of colors. More expensive pigments are generally replicated by hues, which may not have the same mixing characteristics as pure colors. They don't cover as well as artist-grade paints, but they're usually more affordable.