Acrylic paint was invented in 1955, after the oil paint. It was introduced as a solution to the slow drying and muted color palette of oil paint. Ever since both professional artists and students have used acrylics. These paintings lasted for decades if chosen in the right quality.
I am a self taught artists and and have been painting with acrylics for 30+ years now. I started as a young teenager, watching Bob Ross, and have been painting ever since. The more you paint, the better you gonna get at it.Eve from Eve’s Artistry
13 Advantages of acrylic paint that make it good for anyone
Following are the advantages of acrylic paint that make it best for any artist at any stage. Most importantly acrylic paint is relatively inexpensive given the quality of the final product.
1. Acrylic paints dry within 20 minutes
Acrylic paint takes an average of 20 minutes to dry. Thick layers of paint may take longer to dry. The drying time also varies according to the brand, environmental conditions, and painting surface. Working time can be extended by using a stay wet palette and fluid retarders to reduce paint waste.
When acrylic paint dries, water and other solvents evaporate, leaving only the acrylic polymer and pigments on the surface. Acrylic polymers come close together and pack together in hexagonal shapes (honeycomb-like) trapping the pigment particles. Finally, it dries into a water-resistant thin plastic paint film.
If you are planning to sell your acrylic paintings it will be efficient, as acrylic paints dry faster. As you can layer with acrylic painting easily, any mistakes can be covered in a matter of minutes. You can buy acrylics as open acrylics, which gives more working or ‘open’ time.
Oil paint takes an average of 5 days to dry. It may vary on paint film thickness and environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. It allows more working time. The paint will be wasted less and the blending capacity is high compared to acrylic colors. But layering is not easy with oil colors as you have to wait days for the paint to dry.
A tight fitting lid or reclosing a container after placing paint onto your palette should keep your paints fluid. Once the paint is on your palette or brush it will certainly dry out within a few hours. Unlike oil paint you cannot leave it out overnight or sometimes as little as an hour. once dried it will crumble or harden. After a while it will become sticky and difficult to paint unless you replace the lost moisture with water.Roz Garay from OG Paint Parties
Other than acrylics, watercolor and gouache have a quick-drying ability. However, both of these paints are not permanent when dry. they can be reactivated with water. Watercolors on the other hand have a relatively big learning curve. Gouache is not used for permanent artwork. It is usually used for reproducing art.
I have written a whole article about the pros and cons of acrylic paint. You can learn about all the important things about acrylic paint there.
2. Acrylic painting only has a small learning curve
Acrylic painting is the best beginner-friendly paint as it is easiest to learn when compared to oil or watercolor paint. Its fast-drying and layering properties are more forgiving whenever a mistake happens on the canvas. Also, acrylic paints and related accessories are affordable for a beginner.
You can learn the basics and techniques of acrylic painting within 6 months. However, it takes from 10 to 30 years to master acrylic painting. The more you practice, the better artist you will become. Start learning the basics of acrylic painting and then the techniques. Practice more with online or offline resources.
It will take only a few weeks to learn the basic application and techniques. But to improve and perfect the techniques it will take years .Roz Garay from OG Paint Parties
Watercolor on the other hand needs a little bit of technique to get started. It has a bigger learning curve and beginners may get frustrated with it. Oil colors are used traditionally for painting and have a big learning curve and some annoying aspects such as long ‘open’ time.
3. Acrylic paint Can be thinned with 25% of water
Generally, highly pigmented acrylic colors such as artist-quality acrylics need to be thinned. Student quality or hobby-grade acrylics usually do not have a higher pigment density and do not require thinning with water. Add 25 percent or less water when thining to prevent paint film from breaking.
You can dilute any acrylic paint that you think is highly concentrated. You can dilute acrylic paint with water and mediums such as gels, creams, and pastes. Diluting with a medium will not break the paint film. But oil paint requires special solvents such as mineral spirits or turpentine or oils to dilute.
Turpentine and mineral spirits are toxic when used often. They exude fumes that harm our bodies. However, some artists use these paints perfectly fine. But with acrylic paint, you do not have to worry about mixing with oils or toxic solvents. You can thin acrylics with water or use mediums to make the paint in any consistency.
4. It only costs 80 USD to start a professional acrylic painting
Acrylic painting is the relatively most affordable type of painting when weighed for its benefits over other paints. You can start professional-looking acrylic paintings for as little as 120 USD. These materials will last for years when compared to cheap craft quality acrylic paint materials.
Here I have put down a material list you need as a beginner or a professional to do an acrylic painting. Always make sure you buy artist-quality paints rather than cheap craft-quality paint. It will allow you to better blend colors and learn painting. The low-quality paints will make you frustrated with the paintings.
Following acrylic painting materials are from Blick Art Materials with free shipping. These are the only materials you need to make high-quality paintings that last for decades.
|Art Material||Quantity and brand||Price (USD)|
|Cadmium yellow light||Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic, 2oz||13.92|
|Permenent alizerin Crimson||Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic, 2 oz||3.92|
|Ultramarine blue||Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic, 2 oz||8.88|
|Burnt umber||Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic, 2 oz||8.32|
|Titanium white||Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic, 2 oz||8.32|
|Brush set: round, flat, filbert||Dynasty Black Gold Decor Set||41.96|
|Palette knife||Richeson Offset Economy Painting Knife||4.80|
|Canvas||Blick Super Value Canvas Pack of 7, 11″x14″||22.81|
|Acrylic varnish||Liquitex Basics Acrylic Varnish||7.32|
As you can see from the table, it only cost around 120 USD to start professional-looking paintings. You can learn how to make your canvases at a cheaper price and continue your painting journey.
I have written a whole article about the price points of acrylic paints, the best choices you need to make, and what factors contribute to acrylic paint pricing. You can read that article from the following link: Are acrylic paints expensive? (a price breakdown)
Making your acrylic paint in bulk is cheap after buying all the supplies. It is expensive to make a few color tubes. The most expensive supplies are the color pigments and acrylic resin. Other supplies are fillers such as calcium carbonate, thickener, antifoaming agent, retarder, silica, and water.
When compared to oil paint, acrylic paint is less expensive. With oil paint, you will need additional supplies. These are oil mediums such as linseed oil and mineral spirits. Professional oil colors are also slightly more expensive than acrylic paints. The color palette for oil painting is also slightly different from acrylic.
5. Acrylic paint is easy to clean up
You can clean acrylic paint with water and soap. If cleaning brushes after painting with acrylics, wash the brush with water and then with soap. Dab the brushes on a paper towel or a rug to get rid of excess water. Cleaning this way will preserve your paintbrushes for a long time.
When compared to oil paint acrylic paint is so much easier to clean up. You can just clean up with a cup of water when switching between colors. Dab the paintbrush on a paper towel or a rag and move on to the second color. After painting makes sure you use soap with water also. Otherwise, the paint can cake up at the start of the bristles and the bristles can harden.
But with oil paints, you will need mineral spirits to clean the brushes as oil paint does not dissolve with water. Also, You need to do painting or cleaning with oil paints in a well-ventilated room. Otherwise, the toxic fumes of oil paint and supplies are not good for your health and they are highly flammable.
Acrylic paint is generally not washable and permanent after it is dried on a surface that it can stick well to. If painted on an unprepared shiny surface, the paint will come off, especially of contact with water. However, it is possible to stick acrylics to any surface with proper preparation and varnishing.
6. You can paint anything with acrylic paint
Acrylic paint can be used on any surface after preparing the surface and fixing the painting with a varnish or any other fixative. The painting surface needs to be rough without any oil, wax, grease, or moisture. Painting in 40 to 50% humidity and adding mediums also helps.
Acrylic paint sticks to canvas, paper, glass, metal, fabric, leather, polymer clay, air-dry clay, concrete, wood, ceramics, walls, or any other surface. Some surfaces may require mediums to better stick acrylic painting to the surface. Surface preparation and applying varnish also help.
But other paints such as watercolor and oil paints are not versatile or convenient as acrylic paint. Watercolors are transparent paint that is meant for paper. Oil paints are generally used on canvas, paper, canvas boards, and Medium density fibreboards (MDF). If you want to paint on some unusual surfaces, always go for acrylic painting.
The paint film is more flexible, permanent, and durable. Also, you can do an adhesion test to check if the paint has stuck to the surface well.
7. Acrylic paint is not toxic compared to oil paint
Acrylic paint is less toxic than oil paint. Oil paint mediums and thinners have toxic flammable fumes that can be harmful if you are painting in a poorly ventilated closed environment. But acrylic paint or mediums are generally not toxic, but some colors have lead or cadmium which is safe unless you eat the paint.
Acrylic paint is made up of pigments, acrylic polymer binder, water, fillers, and nontoxic additives. Some colors such as cadmium red, cadmium yellow, or cobalt blue have very low toxicity. But it does not harm you if some paint got on your hands unless you ingest the paint. Make sure you do not give your kids acrylic paints with toxic pigments. Instead, give them tempera paints.
Acrylic paint is nontoxic after drying like when they are wet. Toxicity is a concern if you scrape out the paint and ingest it through your mouth or inhaled the paint dust which is not likely to happen. Be cautious and minimize contact with skin with toxic pigments containing cadmium, lead, and cobalt.
Lead in acrylic colors are called Naples yellow or Flake White
8. It is easier to cover mistakes with acrylic paint
Acrylic painting mistakes can be covered with fingers, water, and paint itself. Ridges of painting strokes can be brushed off with a finger. Paint that was just applied can be removed by rubbing with a wet brush and blotting with tissue paper. Fully dried mistakes can be covered by layering with the background color.
With watercolor paint, color lifting or removing paint from paper is hard. Although you try to lift watercolor, the paint might still seem thorough. The color lifting works well only with high-quality watercolor paper. With oil paint, you cannot layer and fix the mistakes, instead, you can wipe off the paint with mistakes as oil paint dry very slowly.
Following is a video of how to fix acrylic painting mistakes on canvas with acrylic paint.
9. Acrylic paint is the most versatile paint of all
Acrylic paint is the most versatile paint of all paints. It can be thinned on up to 25% water and used as watercolor. Slow drying mediums can be added to increase the drying time of acrylics and have more blending ability than oil paint. There are ‘open’ acrylics which give us more working time with paint. However, the unique look and feel of oil paints cannot be achieved with anything else.
Acrylics can be mixed with mediums to achieve different textures. You can get a sandy beach texture, creamy or gel-like consistency with acrylic mediums. You can get thinner acrylic paint and ink-like acrylic paint. The different acrylic paint viscosities are called heavy body, soft body, and fluid acrylic paint.
You can buy acrylic paints in bottles, jars, or tubes. Acrylic can also seem like gouache depending on how much water you have added and the mixed medium. Also, you can get a matte, semi-gloss, and glossy finishing with acrylics. You can also get acrylics in different opacities. There are both transparent pigments and more opaque pigments available.
10. Acrylic paint is used by beginners to professional artists
Acrylic paints are used by a beginner to professional artists. Professional artists have transitioned from oil to acrylic paint for its fast-drying quality, less toxic, easy cleanup, and vibrancy of colors. They prefer high-quality artist-grade acrylics for their paintings. The choice of paint always depends on the final look and feel of the painting the artist want.
Acrylic paint is the best type of paint for a beginner artist, as it dries faster, layers can be built much faster, is easy to cover mistakes, is relatively affordable, takes less time to learn acrylic paint techniques, is less toxic, water can be used to thin paints and clean paint. Acrylic paint can be used as any other nontoxic normal paint.
If you buy professional artist-grade paints, even if you are a beginner, it will make your paintings much better. Professional artists can make quality paintings that last for decades with artist-grade acrylics.
I have written a whole article about ‘Do professional artists use acrylic paint?‘. You will find interesting facts about artists in the past who have used acrylic paint and their artworks in that article.
11. Acrylic paint has vibrant colors compared to oil paint
Acrylic paint has vibrant modern color pigment if bought in artist grade. Modern acrylic color pigments include Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Magenta, Hansa Yellow Medium, and Naphthol Red Medium. Limit the use of traditional pigments such as Burnt umber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Oxide, Cadmium Red Light, and Red Oxide if vibrant colors are needed.
Oil paint has a unique more traditional less vibrant look to it. You can use either acrylic or oil paint, depending on the final look you want for the painting. You can use a few colors of acrylic paint and get a vibrant and bright-colored painting. Following is the simple color palette with only the 5 colors you need for acrylics.
- Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna
- Ultramarine Blue or Phthao blue
- Titanium white
- Cadmium yellow light or yellow ochre
- Alizarin crimzon perment or cadmium red
12. Acrylic paintings last for decades
Acrylic paint is permanent and water-resistant after drying if painted on a well-prepared, dry surface. Priming the surface with gesso provides tooth, surface sizing, and absorbency for both acrylic and oil paints. Vanishing the finished painting can protect it from the environment and protect the pigments from ultraviolet (UV) light.
Lightfastness is the ability of the color pigments to withstand fading and color shifting when exposed to sunlight or UV rays. You can get lightfast pigments with high-quality artist-grade paint. Lightfastness categories are defined by The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
‘Lightfastness I’ refers to excellent lightfastness. These paints are best suited for outside usage. Indoors can last for 100 years. ‘Lightfastness II’ refers to very good lightfastness. They are best suited for indoors and not suited for outside with heavy UV light exposure. ‘Lightfastness III’ has marginal lightfastness and is not recommended for permanent work of artists. Read the paint tube label well and choose the category of lightfast pigments for your artwork.
As acrylic paint is water-based, as long as the exposure to moisture and water is limited, once the paint is dried, it should last for decades. Varnishing the paintings can increase the permanency of the painting. A tight-fitting lid that prevents the paint from drying out will make the paint tubes last long.
13. Acrylic painting techniques create impressive effects
Acrylic painting techniques help to create different effects rather than painting with a wet brush on canvas. The most common acrylic painting techniques are wet on wet, dry brushing, stippling, sgraffito, impasto, glazing, dripping, lifting, spattering, pouring, and masking.
These techniques can be used in paintings as suited for a beginner and a professional artist.
The most common and necessary acrylic painting technique is layering. Layering is done from dark to light colors, from background to finer details. With layering, paint is applied after the previous layer is dried. Layering is necessary to build up a professional painting with detail.
To learn acrylic painting techniques look for free online resources such as youtube. Practice with different brushes and what effects they create. Try to recreate any texture or effect you see somewhere. The more you practice, the more you will perfect any technique and its applications.
Understanding how acrylic painting works is the basis for perfecting and learning techniques. Acrylic painting is very much about layers of paint. Acrylic paints dry on canvas very quickly and once they dry, another layer of color can be applied. Thin layers diluted with water will appear transparent, whereas a thicker layer of acrylic will appear opaque and sometimes cover the first layer. Mixing or blending colors should happen on the palette then applied to the canvas. Of course adding more paint or more water to the paint on canvas will adjust the layering and effect you want.Roz Garay from OG Paint Parties
Acrylic painting is the most versatile paint of all. It is used by beginners to professional artists. The characteristic difference of acrylic paint is its fast drying time. Unlike oil painting, you can layer over the previous paint layer within 3 to 20 minutes with acrylic paint. Also, there is a small learning curve with acrylic paint.
Acrylic paint is most forgiving and it is easier to cover mistakes. They are permanent and will last for decades. Also, you can start professional acrylic paintings for a relatively cheaper price. Hence acrylic painting is suitable for almost all artists.