Painting is a rewarding way for you to express yourself. Acrylic paint is a particularly durable and flexible medium and is much more affordable to work with than oil paint. Acrylic is water soluble which is constructed from a synthetic resin that has been mixed with colored pigments. Being water soluble means that the paint will dry quickly but it also means that you do not need to use a solvent to clean the brushes or dilute the paint. Once the acrylic paint dries on your canvas, it is resistant to water which means you can roll up a canvas and store it without worrying that it is damaged or cracked. This is much different than oil paints which take a long time to dry, and then harden when they do which makes it difficult to transport them.
Understanding Paint Mediums
As a beginner acrylic paint can be quite exciting because of its versatility. When you start painting with acrylics, they will dry into a nice flat finish. You can do so much with it once it is dry too, like varnish it with a matte finish or a semi-matte finish. If you want to create paint that looks more like watercolor you can dilute it with water. You can also add mediums to thicken the paint and make your brush strokes more noticeable.
When you are painting with acrylics you need to select a surface that has no wax or oil. The acrylic paint will not stick to these two items. There are also certain pigments which you cannot get from the same manufacturers. The brand you choose will be based on many things such as personal preference or the colors you want. In some cases, you may have to pick a manufacturer you seldom use for a paint color that your main manufacturer does not carry.
When you get your paints, it is important that you try to avoid mixing too many colors together. If you mix more than two or three you might muddy the paint. It is also good to note that the paint will appear lighter when you first put it to your canvas (or wood or paper) but be patient, because when it dries it will be bolder and darker.
The Chemistry of Paints
All paint is made up of:
- a binder,
- and often some additives
The binder holds the pigment in place once your paint dries. With acrylic paint, the pigments remain suspended in synthetic binder which creates a film the water evaporates. Oil paint uses linseed oil as a binder and watercolors use gum Arabic as a binder.
The properties of the binder are responsible for the unique makeup of the acrylic paint, compared to other paints. The binder in acrylic paints from scratch is fast drying which makes acrylic paints perfect for layering, glazing, applying thick impastos, and scumbling.
The paint is able to dry so quickly because the water in it evaporates and causes a film to form almost instantly. Once the process of drying is complete, the paint remains chemically stable. The base is milky in color when wet, which is what makes acrylic paint look lighter in color when it is wet, verses dry. Many pigments used in acrylic paints from scratch are similar to the pigments used in watercolors or oils. Acrylic paints from scratch are intermixable which means you can alter the finish by mixing compounds. When acrylic paint dries it becomes porous which is why you must place varnish over it when it has dried entirely. You can place a mineral spirit varnish if you want to remove it in the future. You should store the paintings in room temperature, because cold temperatures can cause the paint to become fragile.
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