Acrylic Paint Supplies – What You Need To Know Before Purchasing.
What would a painter be without their paints?
Obviously, it is impossible for a painter to paint without their set of paints.
Even more than that, however, just as different writers use different styles and vocabularies, so too do different painters use different types of paint.
William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway famously feuded over the difference between the former’s uber-lengthy complex sentences and the latter’s minimalism and Iceberg Theory.
Likewise, there’s a world of difference between the plaster-and-paint used in Giotto’s frescoes to the special texturized oil paint Van Gogh used to the acrylic paint Warhol used in this self-portrait from 1964 and this one from 1986.
Acrylic painting was first developed in the 1930s, popularized by artists such as Warhol in the 1950s and 60s, and has taken off in popularity since then.
They are water-based and, compared to traditional oil-based paints, it dries a lot faster.
For that reason they are one of the most popular types of paints for use in painting one’s home, but what about as a beginner paint?
While Bob Ross may have popularized the wet-on-wet oil painting technique for a generation of beginning artists, beginning acrylic painters can find solace in the many newbie-friendly elements of the medium – if only they know where to look.
With that in mind, let’s review some vital pieces of advice for beginning acrylic painters and make a few suggestions for acrylic art supplies along the way.
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1. An Inexpensive Medium
For most of art history, paints were expensive. Acrylic paint helped buck that trend, and remains a less expensive option on average than many oil paints today.
That said, when you start off in the world of acrylic art, you’ll want to be aware of the distinction between Student and Artist paint.
This distinction is one of quality, and it falls along the lines you’d expect – Student-quality paint is, on average, less expensive and of lesser quality than Artist-quality paint.
Student-quality paints, like this option from Blickrylic, offers big tubs of paint of the kind of quality you might expect from a grade school art class.
On the one hand, it offers some nice variety, such as fluorescent and metallic options in over 30 different hues, making it perfect for class art projects.
What’s more, while we’d all love our students to be inspired by Van Gogh, you probably don’t want them eating paint like he did during stress attacks, so if you’re painting with very young children who might do that, you’ll be pleased to know these paints are nontoxic.
On the other hand, it doesn’t come close to the quality you’d expect from a professional painting such as the Artist-grade acrylics used by artists such as Warhol.
So, which should you get?
Honestly, while Student paint is fine for kids and young art learners, even if you’re a newcomer, Artist-quality acrylics are the way to go.
They tend to come in a wider range of colors, feature a greater concentration of pigment, and just have more variety and are smoother and more consistent than Student-quality options.
What’s more, even though Student-quality options are less expensive, you get what you pay for.
What’s good enough for a classroom of kids just learning how to paint probably isn’t good enough for a professional artist, so if you ever want to sell your paints, Artist-grade is the way to go.
That may seem like a bit of an expensive investment, but again, this is higher-quality paint that will produce a superior product, and that’s for an entire set after all.
Unless you unleash a Jackson Pollock-Esque splattering of paint everywhere in one go, that set should last you for some time, and when you do need to replace a tube or two, as you can see, the price is pretty low.
What’s more, as we’ll see below, each of these sets comes with a range of vivid colors that are reasonably bright, crisp, and clear for this price range.
2. Acrylics And Color
Let’s stay with the theme of color, which is obviously hugely important for artists.
Whatever your favorite artist is, there is a fair chance they made a splash in part due to their treatment of color.
This is a lot more complicated than just picking the right Crayola-Esque shade of red or blue and using that hue.
Anyone who ever watched Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting will be familiar with the set of dozens of specially-named, nuanced paint colors he used.
That said, different types of paint retain and employ different colors very differently.
Both Van Gogh and Klimt used special types of paint which made the former’s incredible vividness of and the latter’s famous Gold Period possible.
While a great artist can make great art from anything, you can’t paint “The Kiss” without special paint that can retain the massive amounts of golden color and luminosity Klimt employs in that, the famous “Golden Portrait of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer,” and other paintings from this period.
- So, what about acrylics?
- How do they fare when it comes to color?
Reasonably well considering the budget price, actually.
Most starter kits – such as those mentioned above – make use of some or all of the following 10 basic acrylic colors:
- Titanium White
- Phthalo Green
- Phthalo Blue
- Cadmium Yellow
- Cadmium Orange
- Cadmium Red
- Alizarin Crimson
- Burnt Sienna
- Dioxazine Purple
- Ivory Black
Once again, if you’ve ever watched a Bob Ross painting tutorial you’ll probably recognize the Titanium White and Cadmium and Phthalo options as favorites of his.
This hints at another aspect of how color and acrylics go together nicely for beginners – namely that acrylic paint supplies are easy to use.
Bob Ross’s show was wonderful in part because he never overwhelms his audience with terminology or technique.
These are extremely important to proper art schooling, obviously, but if you’re a raw beginner just dipping your brush into the world of painting and seeing if it does indeed color you with joy, simplicity is a good thing.
Oil paints are fantastic and capable of all manner of complex lighting and color tricks, but they’re also far more expensive and less forgiving. Y
ou need to be taught how to use them “properly,” which is one reason people continue to shell out all that money for MFAs at fine art conservatories around the world.
With acrylics such as these, however, very little setup is needed.
You mostly just squeeze out the paint and you’re good to go. You may need to dilute or mix a color or two depending on the effect you’re trying to create, but other than that, beginning acrylic painters have an edge in terms of the ease of their paint mediums over their oil-based contemporaries.
Even the mixing is made easier, and some sets, such as the Gold Heavy options, include special combinations that are easy to mix for a dazzling array of colors.
From Caravaggio to Klimt to Kahlo and everyone in between, vivid colors are the most impressive yet difficult aspects of painting.
Acrylic paint supplies for beginners like those listed here can do a great job of making your first attempts at that a little easier.
3. Acrylics and Permanence
The year of 1999 marked the end of a 20-year restoration of Leonardo’s “The Last Supper,” which had grown faded over the centuries. (As of this writing, Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” is also currently undergoing a restoration program at The Rijksmuseum.)
The point is that paint fades and becomes murky, muddied, muddled, and you don’t want your masterpiece to become a mess.
However, unlike in the case of these masterpieces, you don’t have the tools and expertise of some of the best art experts and restorers in the world to help turn back the clock on your painting, which is why you want to look for paints that offer good permanence.
This is especially important when it comes to light.
The ASTM scale is the international standard for permanence in paints.
Individual sets of paint can be rated AA, A, B, or C in terms of color permanence and durability.
AA is the best rating here, and the one you want to give your painting the best chance of surviving over the years to come.
This is another area where acrylics score highly, as they often have higher permanence ratings than other types of paint, especially those available to beginners.
4. Paint Viscosity
Part of what makes Van Gogh’s style so distinct is the thickness of his brushstrokes.
This creates sharp lines and separation and distinction between different forms within the paintings that help characterize his work.
By contrast, watercolors are much thinner and blend more fluidly.
In both cases, viscosity, or the thickness of the paint itself, is key.
Acrylic paint runs the gamut here, offering both thicker and thinner options.
In the former category are heavy body acrylics, such as the Amsterdam Expert Series or the aforementioned Golden Heavy Body options.
These latter options promise strong pigmentation and color while making it easier to blend those different colors together as you might in watercolor paintings.
This isn’t a matter of one option being better than another, but rather a clear choice.
If you’re looking for more delicate paints that are easy to blend, the thinner fluid acrylics are the better option.
If you’re looking for extra thickness and vibrancy in your layers of paint as you apply them to the canvas, the former option is the way to go.
5. Acrylic Paint and Binders
If you paint with acrylics for any length of time, chances are you’ll hear about “binders.”
In this context, acrylic binders help the paint retain the pigment as it dries.
This naturally has a big impact on how you choose to paint and which acrylic paints you choose.
You don’t want to lose color as the paint dries, but you may also wish to thin your paint, especially if you are using Student-quality paint for the whole class.
This can also be useful if you are primarily using Artist-grade paint with a higher thickness and viscosity but simply want to thin a bit of it for a particular part of your painting that requires a lighter touch.
Water is a common way to dilute and thin acrylic paint, but you need to be careful.
Adding too much water to Student or Artist-grade paint can weaken the acrylic binders and the color along with it.
6. Acrylics Dry Quickly
Monet pioneered plein-air painting, or painting outside.
Doing so allowed him to capture changes in light and shadow with their corresponding impact on color and everything else as they occurred.
Oil paintings take many hours to dry – sometimes more than a day – so he could dabble and experiment without worrying his Impressionist masterpieces would dry prematurely.
However, acrylics dry much faster, often in less than a couple hours, if that.
That may be convenient, especially if you are a grade school art teacher who wants kids to take paintings home with them or just someone who doesn’t want to wait too long before seeing the result.
However, that also gives you less time to mix and experiment with your paints before they dry.
What’s more, extra heat and dry elements – such as those Monet would have faced painting outdoors – can cause the paint to dry even faster.
Whichever type of acrylic paint you choose, you need to be aware of this, lest part of your masterpiece dries before you can adequately blend it in with another part.
When approached and used properly, acrylic art supplies can be a fun and affordable way to break into art.
Painters would be lost without their paints – and with acrylics, you may have well found the perfect way to begin your art adventure.
Acrylic Painting Sets
Whether you are just starting or you are a seasoned artist, purchasing artist quality paints over student quality acrylics might be worth the few extra cents invested.
Here is a list of some high-quality acrylic paint colors and sets.
There are multiple acrylic painting supplies companies to choose.
The best way to find out what you like best is to purchase a couple of bottles from each company before spending money on a full set you might not like.
Acrylic Paint Brushes
Natural Hair Acrylic Brushes
Synthetic Acrylic Paint Brushes
Final Thoughts On Acrylic Paint Supplies
It is always a good idea to research and learn about a new product you are purchasing, and acrylic painting supplies are no different.
The information you gathered from this post will help you to make better decisions, but you will still have to experiment with different brands before you know which acrylic paint supplies are best for you.
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