What Are Acrylic For Art Painting
Acrylics are the only new paint to have come onto the market for centuries. Introduced in about 1962, they are as versatile as it is possible to imagine. They can be used thickly like oil paints, or in transparent washes like watercolours. They can be applied to almost any surface whether it be paper, panel, cardboard or canvas. Their main attribute is that they dry yes quickly and are ideal for those who work at top speed and like to see a finished picture in half an hour. They dry too quickly for some, but the drying speed can be slowed down with a retarder, and there are all Kinds of additives such as mediums and texture pastes to suit every taste, though normally water is used as the painting agent.
Van Gogh would have loved acrylics. Some established painters are suspicious of them despite the many claims (justified) made for them.
Acrylic can being very quick drying. there is a temptation to regard a quick flashy picture as a good picture; it is almost impossible to avoid making a picture by putting on colour at speed. acrylic can be mixed with other mediums to create something wholly new, and acrylic is virtually permanent. Unlike oil paints, where asterisks on the tube denote the degree of permanence, you can be pretty sure that acrylics last.
What Materials Are Needed
These come in fairly large .tubes, as acrylic paint is often used in bulk, and there is a very large range. Because acrylic dries very rapidly the top should always be kept on.
Mediums and Glosses
These can be used at will, and impart a lustrous texture. Used with water, acrylic is slightly matt.
This slows down the drying process, but never to the same extent as one normally gets with oil paints. To dedicated users of acrylic the adding of a retarder defeats what to many is the medium's great asset - rapid drying and the consequent ability to apply coat after coat within a few minutes. Acrylic paint is opaque when used thickly, and obliterates what has gone before, except when diluted and used as a glaze.
An optional extra, as you can build up texture anyway, and using thick pigment you can get what textures you want. Primer This is a thick white paint rather like household undercoat and is used to paint on an absorbent surface, though size is better (and cheaper).
Acrylic varnish is a curious milky substance, and when used has the effect of completely obliterating the picture surface until it starts drying, when it is quite transparent. There is no reason why the traditional varnishes as used in oil painting cannot be used.
Nylon brushes only should be used. More people have discarded acrylic ,because of clogged brushes than for any other reason. Acrylic paint dries not only on the picture, but on the brushes, and only methylated spirits will clean them and only then if caught in time.
The remedy is simple. Always keep the brushes in water, not point down but fairly flat in a brush tray. Nylon brushes will last for years if this practice is adopted.
Do not be put off by nylon brushes; they are superb, even the smallest ones marked 00. If you really want a rough paint texture, you can use bristle, but the same advice applies always keep them in water.
Some artists still prefer to use sable for fine work, but these will suffer if kept in water continuously. Use the complete range of brush sizes from very large to very small.
Palette knives come in several sizes, and are useful in acrylics. Do not let the paint dry on the steel of the knife, for although it can be scraped off there is always a danger of damaging the thin steel of the smaller palette knives. Acrylic is ideally suited to palett knife work as it is not messy and does not ooze oil all over the place.
Palettes and Mixing Trays
There is something on the market called a Staywet Palette, perfect for acrylics for as the name implies it stays wet and stops the paint coagulating. It is worth noting that the bigger a blob of paint in the tray or on an ordinary palette the longer it will take to dry out. In normal use, acrylic paint will not dry out on the palette before it can be used, and if in doubt add water to Keep it moist. When acrylic paints start to dry on the palette, a crust forms. The paint can still be used if this crust is prised off gently with the tip of a palette knife.
Almost any type can be used, but cartridge paper is as good as anything and, for those who like to use their paint smooth, mounting board or white card is suitable. If you are using acrylic paint fairly thickly, water colour paper is rather an expensive option.
Because of the heaviness of the paint, thin paper is not really advisable. Canvas is excellent, but no better than card unless you are Keen on using the natural texture of the canvas without overlaying it with too much paint.
Acrylic lends itself to broad handling, and consequently an easel is essential if you like a bold style with lots of bravura
Pencils and Charcoal
Because of the great covering ability of acrylic, any medium you use to lay down your design will be obliterated by the paint (unless you are using it in thin water color style). If you are painting in several layers, making use of acrylics drying rapidity, remember that you may need something to apply a design or an outline on to the earliest layers. In this event, bear in mind pastels or a felt-pen, something that will carry a line over paint ridges better than pencil.
No less than three, one for clean water, one for less clean water, and one to splash the brushes around in between changes of colour. The brush tray should hold the brushes not at that moment being used, but if you are working at top speed it is more convenient to pop the brushes into the medium clean water and trust that the points won't be damaged.
A very useful material, suitable for fixing paper to a drawing board instead of drawing pins, and also of great help in painting straight edges (the tape is laid alongside the area to be covered, and is then taken up when the paint has been applied, taking with it the ragged edge of paint and leaving an absolutely straight edge). For irregular areas, including circles, the masking tape can be stuck around the area to be covered. Of course, as masking tape comes in rolls of varying thickness, the tape will be buckled, but that does not matter.
As always, this is an optional extra depending on what you are painting on (technically known as the ground), but essential if you are using an easel and paper.
In addition you will add all kinds of odds and ends to your working material from time to time, and do not be afraid to improvise. A pair of dividers may come in useful if you want to compare one line or area of paintwork with another or to calculate distances between point A and point B. You may find that you want to work up your textures, and that the usual range of brushes do not give quite the effect you want. Two handy stand bys are old tooth brushes and old shaving brushes, which give a texture of their own, unrepeatable with ordinary custom made paint brushes. You can achieve interesting textures in acrylic by scoring the paint surface while still wet, and the point of a pair of dividers win do this, as will a knitting needle or one of the blades of a pair of scissors.