Acrylic paint is a versatile, fast-drying, water-soluble paint that was created in the U.S. and became commercially available in the 1950’s. It can be modified with various gel mediums, pastes, glazes, and other materials to create unique textures and finishes.
The Birth of Acrylics
The invention of acrylic resin by Otto Rohm allowed paint makers to mix the resin with pigment and water in a stable emulsion. As the paint dries, the water evaporates and the pigment bonds to itself and its substrate.
Characteristics of Acrylics
- Rapid Drying
- Acrylic paint dries rapidly as water evaporates from the paint film, making them ideal for craft projects, layering, or transparent washes. Thick applications and the addition of glazes or gels will increase the drying time as will low room temperature or high humidity levels. Drying time can be speeded by the use of a heat tool.
- From canvas to paper to wood or clay, acrylics can be applied successfully to a variety of materials. Proper surface preparation is important so be sure to use a primer or gesso and tooth as necessary.
- Acrylic paint is mostly fade resistant and lightfast. You can increase the longevity of your work by sealing it with a varnish to protect it from light, dirt and grease.
- Easy Clean Up
- This is an important one for many people, especially those with children. Acrylic paint is water soluble and cleans up quickly with soap and water. Brushes should be cleaned the same way.
Brands of Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paints are perfect for kids, crafters and home artists because they are inexpensive, come in dozens of beautiful colors, and are easy to work with and clean up. I use them extensively in my art and I’ve tried all the brands and colors. Here I’ll share with you my thoughts on each.
Craft paints are the inexpensive paints that you find in craft stores in the aisles near the scrapbooking, beading, and woodworking supplies. In other words, these paints are geared toward the hobbyist and home crafter.
- This is a thinner paint and takes several coats for opaque coverage but it’s great for layering colors.
- Apple Barrel
- This is the thickest of the craft paints and my favorite. It has great coverage; often I can get away with only one coat.
- Craft Smart
- I’m not as fond of this paint. It’s thin and watery and requires many coats for opaque coverage. However, this translucent quality makes it perfect for layering on paint coats and blending colors.
These paints are found in the artsy section of your craft store, near the stretched canvasses and racks of brushes. They are quite a bit more expensive than the craft paints but often have more fade resistance and better coverage.
- Golden is the golden standard for artist paints.
- Artist’s Loft
- I have just recently started using this brand of paint and haven’t been able to evaluate it yet – stay tuned!
- Details coming soon!