Acrylic paints have been around since the 1940s. Prior to this, oil was the paint of choice for many artists, but it took a long time to dry. Acrylic paint became popular because of its quick drying time. It is also very versatile since it can be thinned with water to be like watercolor or applied thickly to create real texture. It never fades like watercolor or cracks like oil paint.
Craft and student grade acrylic is relatively inexpensive, but they lack the pigment of more expensive paint. Artists grade acrylic paint cost more, but the the quality and richness of color makes it worth the extra expense. Artist grade acrylic comes in a variety of colors and prices vary based on the materials needed to make each colors. Acrylic paint is sold in both tubes and jars.
Characteristics of Acrylic Paint Write the Characteristics of Acrylic Paint in your sketchbook
Other mediums can be painted on top of dry acrylic paint, but you can't always paint acrylic on top of other mediums (like oil paint)
Paper or objects that are placed on top of wet acrylic will be "glued" to the surface of the painting.
Acrylic should be stored and not shaken if any separation occurs.
Dried paint turns into a plastic. Keep brushes in water until all of the paint is removed to prevent ruining the brushes.
Acrylic paint can be thinned with water or acrylic medium
Acrylic will shrink a little as it dries.
The top layer of the acrylic dries quickly, but the paint is not totally cured for several weeks.
Wet acrylic appears lighter than once it has dried.
Dried acrylic looks glossy
There is a short window to work with the wet paint. As it begins to dry, it may become tacky so that the artist is unable to manipulate it.
Materials and Equipment This is an inclusive list of common materials used by acrylic artists. Some of these are available in our art room while others are not. Mediums, Additives and Gesso There are lot of products that can be used along with the acrylic paint. Each one changes the look, texture, and thickens of the paint in some way. Below is a list of some of the many options and a descriptions a few. Unlike paint, most of these products work the same way no matter the brand or cost.
Write the terms and definitions below in your sketchbook Acrylic Medium - a gel that thickens the paint with out changing the value of the color Gesso - A white (sometimes black or grey) primer that helps the paint stick to a surface Gloss or Matte Medium - Changes the sheen of the paint to extra glossy or flat
Brushes The type of brush you will need depends on the technique you will be using. For paint that has not been thinned or that is extra thick, use a stiff haired bristle brush. If the paint is thinned, a soft bristle brush will work. Since the paint is heavy, a hog hair or synthetic bristle brush helps carry the paint from the palette to paper of canvas. Longer handled brushes are made for painting on an easil or standing back from the work. Shorter handled brushes are for close-up work. Course bristles will leave more brush strokes visible in the paint. Brushes range in prices and can be very expensive. It is not necessary to buy the most expensive brushes. A quality, mid-range brush will do the job. If you buy inexpensive brushes, the bristles tend to fall out while you paint and stick to your artwork.
If brushes are cleaned and cared for, they will last a lifetime. While working, avoid leaving brushes sitting with point on them. Acrylic dries fairly quickly and will harden your bristles into a solid mass. Even a few minutes sitting time can start the drying process. Rinse your brushes with color water or put them into a shallow cup of cold water while you work. Be careful not to leave brushes in a full cup of water for long periods of time. It warps the bristle tips and the water will eventually losses the glue that holds the ferrule to the hands.
Cleaning Paint Brushes Write the steps to clean your paintbrush in your sketchbook
Wipe excess paint on paper towel
Rinse in cold water
Add a small amount of soap to the end and rub in the palm of your hand to loosen paint
Clean bristles from tip to ferrule. Paint often collects at the base of the bristles near the ferrule. Once this hardens, it will shorten the amount of flexible bristle length.
Rinse tip until water is clear
Reshape bristles to the original shape with finger tips
Place handle down in a cup or jar to avoid bending bristle tips
ACRYLIC PAINT HARDENS TO A PLASTIC AND WILL RUIN YOUR PAINT BRUSH IF IT IS NOT CLEANED BEFORE IT DRIES
Palette Knives Palette knives are use to mix color and apply paint. They can be made of both metal and plastic and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Knives are use to create texture in the paint and scrape in details or patterns. It is also useful for scraping off extra paint or mistakes before the paint dries.
Painting Surface Acrylic paint can be applied to almost any surface including canvas, paper, cardboard, wood, and glass. Gesso can be used to prime the surface to ensure that the paint has an even surface and adheres well.
Canvas - One of the most common painting surfaces is canvas. Canvas is a fabric that can be painted on, usually linen or cotton. The canvas is primed with gesso. If you don't prime it, the colors look dull, the fabric texture shows through the paint, and the fabric tends to soak up the paint. Canvas can be bought un-stretched, stretched, (pulled and attached to a wooden frame) or on a canvas panel (fabric glued to a board).
Paper and Cardboard - Acrylic paint can be thick and heavy so if you are painting on paper, you want it to be rather heavy. Watercolor paper, printmaking paper, and bristol board are all great choices. Non-corrugated cardboard like chipboard or mat board are also good choices for acrylic paint. Both paper and cardboard should be primed with gesso to create a good painting surface.
Wood - Wood is a good choice for artist who use a thicker application of paint. Thinner pieces may need to be braced on the back to prevent warping. Impurities in the wood also require the wood to be sealed before being primed with gesso. Masonite, hardwoods, and MDF are all commonly used for acrylic paintings.
Palette Palettes hold paint colors and give the artist an area to mix colors. There are many palettes available for purchase, but any rigid, sealed surface will work. It is important that the surface can't absorb the paint, so paint doesn't dry before it can be used.
Easel An easel places the painting surface parallel to the artist's face. This prevents visual distortion that can occur when the painting surface is laying flat on a table. It also allows the artist to stand and step back from their work improving the artist compositional decision making. If an easily is not available, set the canvas on a table and prop it against the wall. You can also prop the the canvas on a stack of books so that it is not totally flat on the table.