An Artist’s & Collector’s Guide to Acrylic Paint
- Acrylic paint is fast-drying and water-based, which depending on use can change in texture and final appearance
- Vibrant in colour
- Widely used by artists since the 1960s, acrylics are known for their versatility and speedy drying time
- Easy to care for – give a light dust every now and then
- Can be applied in thin layers or washes to create effects that resemble watercolours or thick layers of paint to mirror oil paintings
- Click here to browse acrylic paintings for sale on Bluethumb
Acrylics for Artists
Without going too far down the science rabbit hole, acrylic is water-based fast-drying paint that use a synthetic resin to bind pigments. Widely used by artists since the 1960s, acrylics become water-resistant once dry.
Whether you’re pressed for time or love the feeling of creating swiftly, acrylics are the perfect medium when time is of the essence. The room to modify the appearance of acrylics is expansive – painters can easily tweak the texture, hardness and overall appearance by adding more or less water. In this way, an acrylic painting might resemble a watercolour painting, or show the thickness of an oil piece. To do this, the application of acrylic paint may involve thin layers or washes to create effects that delicate nature of watercolour, or thickening agents and gels to bring oil-like thickness to a painting.
Because of their flexibility, many artists find freedom in using acrylics. Their usability on various surfaces, combined with their versatility in texture gives a painter a wide scope of possibilities. “Oil paint lent itself to extreme darks and lights, with not much in between. When I use acrylic paint, the outcomes tend to be a lot lighter and freer flowing, bestselling landscape artist Meredith Howse recently explained in an interview. Additionally, many artists often praise the hues acrylics can achieve. “The colours these days are amazing! I use Hydrocryl, an Australian brand. The colours are so vibrant and wonderful to use,” Bluethumb artist Julie Hollis adds.
The pièce de résistance to any acrylic painting should always be a good varnish. Varnishing your artwork not only protects the painting from yellowing, UV rays and dust; it pulls the painting together by adding a little layer of shine and brings out those vibrant hues from the paint.
Find out more info on the differences between acrylics and oils here.
Acrylics for Collectors
While it may be a relatively young medium, the resourceful nature of acrylics lends itself to varying qualities that are are as appealing for collectors as they are for artists. Visually intense, they allow room for new sensory experiences for first-time buyers and experienced collectors alike.
Because of the liberty artists have to change the thickness of acrylics with water or gels, the texture, application process and consequent appearance varies greatly from painting to painting, or artist to artist. Artists such as Tatiana Georgieva distinctively use acrylic paints to bring thick, heavy texture to a piece; others, like abstract artist Dinah Wakefield, employ acrylics to create flow with a watery, dreamlike form.
So, let’s say you’ve found the acrylic piece that’s right for you. Cleaning an artwork might seem like a bit of maintenance, but acrylics are quite easy to take care. Plus, a little TLC will keep it looking swish for years to come! “I would always recommend checking if the painting is varnished when purchasing – it’s that little bit easier to clean if so, and gives it so much more of a lifespan. Framing the piece will help preserve it as well,” Bluethumb curator Sarah advises. “If you want to keep it looking fresh, give it a bit of a dust from time to time; I’d steer away from water, though, as this can change the appearance of the paint. It doesn’t take much effort and keeps that wall candy looking like new!”
Ready to find that perfect piece? Click here to get stuck into our recent curation of art for the first time buyer.