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Beginner-friendly and quick drying, acrylics are a popular and versatile medium. They are a modern paint when compared to the age of oils and watercolours, and can be used in an almost endless variety of ways. Here’s our quick guide to getting started in the world of acrylic painting.
Acrylic paint is made up of pigment mixed with a binder. Unlike oils and watercolours, which use natural binders, acrylic paints use a synthetic binder. They are also water based, meaning they can be thinned with water alone, and without the need for toxic solvents. An amazing variety of finishes can be achieved with acrylic paints, which isn’t possible with oils and watercolours. This is achieved by mixing different mediums into the paint, and is one of the reasons many people love to experiment with acrylics.
There’s an almost endless range of finishes and effects that you can achieve with acrylic paints and specially designed mediums. Some of these include:
Matt: Takes off any lustre and gives a non-glossy finish to the paint. Winsor and Newton Professional Acrylic Matt Medium is perfect for improving flow and for adding levels of fine detailing.
Gloss: Gives the paint a lovely shiny finish. These mediums are designed to help improve the transparency of colour within your work.
Gel: This makes the paint thicker and more transparent. These gels are highly versatile and perfect for adding the finishing touches to your handiwork.
Flow Improver: This helps achieve an even flow of paint. Products such as the Winsor and Newton Professional Acrylic Flow Improver and the Winsor and Newton 250ml Galeria Acrylic Flow Improver are specially designed to help lessen the visibility of brush marks.
Metallic/ Iridescent/ Violet Hue: These add specific finishes to your paint. These mediums are great for those looking to add shimmering effects to their next masterpiece.
Retardant: This slows the drying time of your paint, which is great for blending work.
There are so many different mediums you can play around with - so start with a few that catch your eye, and have fun experimenting!
When painting with acrylics, synthetic brushes work better than natural fibre brushes. The structure of natural bristles makes them swell from holding too much water, which can cause problems when putting paint to canvas. It’s important to keep a jar of clean water to hand, as this is what you’ll use to thin your paint, as well as clean your brushes.
You may also require a paint palette to help keep all your desired paints stored with ease whilst in use.
As acrylics are water based, they can be used on almost all surfaces. If the surface is porous however, such as untreated wood, then this will need sealing first to stop it absorbing water.
Artists like Jennie Wickings have a great knowledge of arty methods and colours. With her easy to follow tutorials, beginner and long-time acrylic artists alike will find great inspiration or ideas for their own art work!