Acrylic Painting Techniques

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Acrylic paints, a modern medium which came into general use in the 1960s, have become very popular due to their extreme versatility. They are made from pigment, water and an acrylic binder, which forms a hard, clear film as the water evaporates. It is this transparent film, reflecting light from the pigment inside it, that gives acrylic color its brilliance.

Acrylics dry very quickly, avoiding a tedious delay before painting further layers. The film is more flexible than that of other media and is unlikely to crack. Acrylics are resistant to water once dry, which means they can be overpainted without disturbing the previous color. This means that color cannot be dissolved with a damp brush as it can with watercolour. To thin the color, simply add water.

Acrylics become darker in tone as they dry, rather than lighter as with watercolour, so remember to allow for this effect when mixing your colors. You can mix them with water and use them rather like watercolour, or you can use them straight from the tube as if they were oil paints. Do not think that they are just a pale imitation of these other media, though they are a fascinating medium in their own right and are used by many professional artists in a variety of ways.

Watercolour Technique>/b>

By thinning acrylics with a small quantity of water and acrylic medium, a paint that can be used like transparent watercolour is produced. Alternatively, Acrylic Flow Improver will give acrylics the consistency of watercolours while maintaining strength of color.

Comparison with watercolours

1. Since acrylics are water-resistant when dry, they can be over painted without disturbing previous color.

2. For the same reason, there is no need to frame an acrylic painting behind glass. For additional protection, it is advisable to use varnish, which can be removed if necessary when the surface becomes soiled.

Read the whole article – includes the acrylic ‘Oil Technique’ and general guidelines on how to use acrylics!

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