Monday, November 11, 2013

Acrylic Paint

Are you inspired? Ready to become the next Picasso? Now that you have the art fever, it’s time to get started. What do you need? At a bare minimum you need canvas, brushes and paint.

If you have ever been to an art supply store, you know that selecting paint can be a challenge. There are 40,000 different types of paint. Well, I am not quite sure how many there are, but the selection is overwhelming. There are tiny tubes of paint that cost a fortune and gallon-sized bottles that have descriptions that leave you wondering whether they are paint at all. Don’t despair. There’s no need to spend a fortune or worry.  

There are three basic categories of paint - acrylic, oil and watercolor. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages; however, acrylic paint is perhaps the most versatile. If you have painted at Grapes and Gallery before, you are already accustomed to using acrylic paint. That is all we use.

Acrylic paint, a synthetic medium, was developed in the 1940s. This fast-drying paint offers many benefits compared to both oils and watercolors for the recreational painter. Additionally, painters are able to achieve the same effects when painting with acrylics as they can when using either watercolors or oils. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the points of differentiation.

#1. Versatility. By starting with acrylic paint, you can produce pieces that are similar to both watercolor and oil paintings. Acrylic paint can be watered down (or applied with a wet brush) to create pieces that exhibit the almost translucent colors of a famous John Singer Sargent watercolor painting.

Alternatively, acrylic paint can be applied in thick coats (with a palette knife for example) to produce impasto pieces that are as good as any van Gogh.

If you don’t recall from our palette knife post, impasto is a technique where paint is applied in a thick coat, producing a textured surface where the brush or palette knife strokes are still visible.

#2. Control. If you are a control-freak, acrylic paints are for you! Acrylic allows you to determine the destiny of your painting. There is nothing that cannot be easily undone or modified. With watercolors, on the other hand, you surrender control to the water. Care must be taken not to dilute the watercolors too much. If you want control, choose acrylic. After all who wants their palm tree to turn into a weeping willow because of runny paint?!

#3. Odor. Oil paints have a strong odor. I don’t know about you, but a noxious smell in the house would put a damper on an afternoon of painting. Acrylic paint has almost no smell.

#4. Dry time. Whoever first used the expression, “it’s like watching paint dry,” was probably looking at an oil painting. Oil paint dries very slowly. If you are used to painting your background, letting the paint dry, and then painting your primary image, oils might prove to be a challenge. In fact, a thick coat of oil paint could take weeks to dry! Acrylic paint dries in a matter of minutes. I like to be able to finish a painting and hang it on my wall immediately.

#5. Color mixing. Acrylic paints are extremely versatile in terms of your ability to mix them. Sometimes you need to mix several colors to produce the exact shade of green as your grandmother’s vase. With acrylics you can either blend paint on the canvas or on your palette. Watercolors, on the other hand, are best blended on the canvas. Eek...back to my control-freak impulses. I want to know the color is perfect before I put it on the canvas.

Hopefully, the great debate between acrylic, oil and watercolors has been resolved for you. Now, what type of acrylic paint do you buy? How much of it do you need? Yikes. Those questions might be the subject of another post. In the meantime, if you need some guidance, you can always ask us.

So the next question on your mind might be, where do you get your art supplies without spending a fortune? You’re in luck! You can now turn to Grapes and Gallery for all of your canvas, brush and paint needs. Contact us for more information.

Paint your day!

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