Why is Acrylic Paint the most preferred medium to paint?

If there was something like a ‘People’s Choice Award’ or an Award for the ‘Most Popular Paint’, I am sure it would go to Acrylic Paints. While the others are more natural dyes and colours, Acrylic Paint is synthetic and man made. It is easily available at stores selling Art Supplies as well as all Paint and Stationery Shops.

Acrylic  Painting  Poppy  Flowers
Poppy Flowers – An Acrylic Painting that I have done

Acrylic Paints vs. Oil Paints

Oil Paints take 7-10 days to dry completely. It is this quality of oil paint that helps in mixing colours and blending them. Any artist who has worked with oil paints will agree, it is this property that really helps in making those realistic paintings.

Oil paints have one major drawback ; by any chance if any little traces of water get trapped between the colours because of humidity then the painting develops moss. Refurbishing, Repairing or Repainting- nothing works.

Oil Painting  on Canvas
Indian Mural Style Oil Painting. The ornaments are modelled from clay

When beginning a new oil painting, the canvas needs to be seasoned (sizing) to absorb oil. The more oil it absorbs the better finish. Whereas for Acrylic Paints we only need to use ‘Gesso’ to prime the base. Gesso is like a paint which when applied to any kind of surface prepares it for the paint to be applied. Last but not the least having a glass frame and making the frame airtight ensures that the Oil Painting stays well for longer. Acrylic does not have any such requirement.

Brushes and Palettes can be cleaned with water. If we get some paint on our hands or any surface while painting, it can be easily cleaned with water or removed with acetone. It usually petals off like a plastic coating. We all know that is not the case with oil paints. We need to keep a separate set of brushes for Oil Painting which cannot be used for anything else. On the other hand it is possible to have a common set of brushes for Watercolour and Acrylic Painting since both are water based paints.

Acrylic Paints vs. Watercolour Paints

It is possible to achieve a Watercolour like finish using Acrylic paints. We can mix the colour with different mediums such as Gel, Gloss, Matt, Pearl and so on to get different effects. We can create textures and even achieve the level transparency we want in the colours of the painting with Acrylic Paints.

This image is created from stock photos for explanation

Watercolour is basically for Painting on paper. Even after a painted layer dries, water can be used to mix or blend both colours. Water can be applied on the paper and then colour drops can be added, giving this grains effect. This painting method is suitable to Watercolours. So most artists specialising in Watercolour Painting will not want to use Acrylic Paints. Watercolours are also easy to work with, portable and can be carried along. The cake form is very compact and portable. Mixing of colours to get your shade is easily workable.

I use a mix of Watercolour and Acrylic Paints for my paintings listed on the shop for sale. You may visit my Etsy Shop or Social Media pages to see those.

Here are some of the reasons I think this Acrylic Paint is preferred equally for both Arts and Crafts :-

1) It has a unique property. It is soluble in water and hence diluted with water to paint. However once the paint dries the polymers bond to give a water-resistant painted surface.

2) Acrylic Paints can be used to paint on multiple surfaces including Canvas, Paper, Wood, Glass, Walls, Ceramic and Fabric. I have personally tried them on all of these. We need to seal the completed work with varnish and we are good to go.

Recycled Pen Stand Acrylic
Recycled this old plastic container by repainting with Acrylic Paints

3) We can select the consistency of the paint. The Acrylic Paints that are available in Tubes have a slightly thicker consistency as compared to those available in bottles. The ones in the bottles are liquid like pouring consistency. Both are Acrylic Paints and can be used together on all the projects. The pouring consistency colours work well for projects like Dot Painting and Fluid Art.

Recycled Roll up Brush  case
Roll up brush case I made from my old jeans. Dot painting with Acrylic Paints

4) These paints are available in smaller tubes of size 9ml to larger tubes with 40ml to 120ml. Also available in bottles and larger cans. We even get Acrylic Sprays. Art and Craft Schools and Studios can stock large containers while people who do one off projects can buy the smaller ones. Further if we run out on a particular shade, we can buy just that single shade too!

Photos of my Acrylic paints
I use Artist quality Acrylic Paints by the brand ‘Camel’ or ‘Camlin’ because of its easy availability and reasonable pricing locally.

5) Water Resistant surface makes it easy to combine it with other art materials such as permanent markers or watercolours. Acrylic colours can be used on watercolour painted surface but not the other way around because for watercolours to work, the paper needs to absorb the water. Acrylic paints make the paper impermeable. Acrylic paints can be used alongside or as highlight on watercolour painted surfaces.

6) Acrylic Paints are preferred for creating textures. An artist can achieve the effect he wants with the colours – solid thick, translucent or transparent finish, all by mixing different quantities of mediums and/or water. It is like painting in layers. The bottom layer dries completely and then we paint the next layer. We can even paint a white on a black without the previous layer smudging at all.

Knife painting on canvas
A closer look and method for Knife Painting with Acrylic Paints

The fast drying property and thick paint consistency make it suitable for Impasto or Knife Painting. By using these methods of painting artists can create a good variety of textures. We can use ‘retarders’ to slow the drying process and increase the working time for blending.

7) Almost anything can be painted with Acrylic Paints. These paints can be used for Painting on pots, Painting Clay, Canvas Painting, Painting on Paper, Painting on T-Shirts and Tote Bags, Pebble Art, Wall Murals, Painting on Glass and Mirrors, Painting on Tiles, Mixed Media and a lot more variety of Art and Craft Projects.

Mixed Media on Canvas
Mixed Media Acrylic Painting. Flowers are modelled from clay

8) These colours remain unaffected by humidity or extreme cold or heat conditions.

9) Framing is optional. Hence we have wall mounting canvases. To clean it simply take a dry brush and lightly dust of the dirt that may have settled on it and it will be clean.

Wall mounted  Impasto Painting
Wall Mounted Canvas – Knife Painting using Acrylic Paints

10) Variety of Colours and Shades. Mixing colours might not be a good idea because it dries very fast. So buy them in the colours or shades needed. There will usually be a whole shelf dedicated to it. Any colour that we need can be bought anytime. We get neon shades and glow in the dark paints too!

The only drawback with Acrylic paint is that the colours will dry out if the water from the colour evaporates or if the bottle is left idle, so cap them well. Remove the colours in disposable containers in the required quantities instead of painting directly from bottles and leaving large containers without the lid for long hours of painting.

Acrylics are easy to work with. Rectifying a mistake is also easier when using Acrylics, so it works well for beginners as well as professionals. I really don’t know what more can they offer to make these paints better. Definitely worth buying a box and trying out some Art projects. I have shared some of the recent Projects that I have worked on using Acrylic Paints. All these are still with me and not for Sale. The paintings for sale on the shops are different. These are all from my personal collection.

Have an Arty Week!

Published by #artistniralimehta

Nirali is an Artist doing Art and Illustrations both hand drawn as well as digital. She is a trained professional with good work experience in her field. She masters various art styles and has shops on Etsy, Redbubble, Society6 all three by the same name ‘NMartworks’

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