Acrylic paints are highly versatile, possessing very different qualities to watercolours and oils. The formulation of the paint gives excellent adhesion to most surfaces and the flexibility of the paint allows it to expand and contract while maintaining integrity. The paints are very tough, once dry they are permanent, flexible and water insoluble.
Acrylics have a fast drying time allowing work to be accomplished in a short time compared to oils which may take weeks to dry fully. Painters who prefer the slower drying time of oils can add an extender to acrylics to lengthen drying time.
Watercolour techniques can be achieved when acrylics are thinned with water and using the colour straight from the tube allows oil-like impasto marks to be created. Adding different mediums to acrylics allows other techniques such as block printing or screen printing, and different finishes can be achieved from matt, gloss and pearlescent mediums.
Here are some tips on getting started with acrylics and how best to get the most from the colours:
Acrylics dry very quickly so squeeze just a small amount out of the tube at a time. Spraying a fine mist of water over decanted paint will help to keep it moist or a ‘stay-wet’ palette can be used. Remember to dry wet brushes with paper towel to stop water blots forming from water running down the ferrule.
Opaque and Transparent Colours
Used directly from the tube and applied thickly acrylic colours are generally very opaque. Adding Titanium White will increase opacity. To maintain colour strength and improve flow, use a flow-improver rather than water to thin the paint.
Colours can be made transparent when thinned by water for watercolour effects and glazes. Washes created with acrylics are permanent and insoluble and can be overpainted with subsequent washes which mix optically with earlier ones.
It is necessary to work quickly when blending colours as the acrylic dries so fast. If painting on paper, dampen the surface to help keep the paints moist.
Masking Areas of Work
Use masking fluid to obscur areas not intended for painting, or masking tape to create straight or hard edges. Take care not to cover too thickly with acrylic to ensure easy removal.
There are a number of brushes and palette knives available for use with acrylics, plus rubber tipped brushes for moving the paint around, making impressions and creating texture. It is vital to always clean brushes immediately after use as the acrylic will dry hard and damage bristles. Rinse brushes in a water pot while you are working to prevent the paint from drying.
Please view the George Weil range of Acrylic Paints, Tools and Surfaces to learn more about these great products.