Friday, August 3, 2012

Acrylic Colours - a magic medium for Artists

Acrylic Colours first arrived in the art scene in 1962 when they were called Standard Formula. These paints are quite thick in a buttery consistency just like oil colours. Hence it was mainly for palette knife work and is good to build up a terrific amount of relief work called Impasto.

The advantage of acrylics over oils is that oils take months to dry but acrylic paints take only a few hours even if it is applied in thick amounts.

In addition to using palette knives , brushes may also be used.

Then came an excellent extension to the Standard Formula stable matte called Flow Formula. This is better to use with the brush. However it takes a bit longer to dry than the Standard Formula.

I use a retarder where I can in order to slow the drying process if I want to make a long drawn painting where I may not be able to cope with the quick-drying typical of acrylic paints. A paste called Texture Paste could be used for building heavy Impasto.

Nylon brushes of very high quality is best for acrylic. The Stay-wet palette was introduced to keep paint wet indefinitely which was such a breakthrough and helped save paint from drying quickly.

There is a magic in using Acrylic Paints for a creatively charged artist.
Acrylic Paint facilitates creating a painting right at the moment when the artist gets that urge. Such a painting has more value as it is made with more meaning with uninterrupted and truthful expression of feelings on the canvas.

Another advantage is that as soon as you have made the whole composition and you need to work over, you could immediately start from the other side of the painting without any fear of the under-painting getting in the way as by now it is safely dry.

Thus a painting can be created by the artist filled with inspiration rather than be controlled by having to wait for the paint to get dry like in the oil painting process, where the initial emotion is not the same as when the artist has come back to it in a day or two.

With acrylic, a piece started by (say) the evening hours could easily be completed by nightfall.

Artist's Acrylic colours are made of the same pigments used in Oil Colours. Instead of the pigment in drying oil or water soluble as in watercolours, these semi-permanent pigments come in a transparent, water emulsion of acrylic polymer resin.

Sorry for the technical terminologies, but this is an interesting fact to understand so we see how valuable acrylic paintings are actually.

The term polymer means joining together small molecules called monomers into lengthy chemical chains which form plastic materials. These convert into milky white, water emulsions which will dry as a crystal clear film once the water has evaporated.

That's about it on the tech art talk. I found this interesting to think about when I was pulling out my acrylic material to make a quick painting.

I hope it was informative to you as it was for me refreshing my memory of yet another amazing medium of art.

Will be back soon with another flavour of art and creatives. Pleased to see you here ! Happy Painting!!


  1. Thanks....a most imformative entry. I liked the way you described polymer. Even I could understand it. (grin).

    1. Hi Fredericks Sorry for the late reply. Thank you for passing by. And your appreciation