How to Use Acrylic Paints

by TessaSchlesinger

Acrylic Paints are different to water paints and oil paints. Therefore, you need to use them in a different way. Learn how to use Acrylic Paints.

Acrylic paints work differently to oil paints. They have both advantages and disadvantages and if the painter wants to know how to use acrylic paints, then it is good to know the differences. Oil paints have always had problems, the major one being that they take many years to dry. This means that if oil paintings are moved, there is a chance of damaging the painting. With the invention of acrylic paints in the 40s, it gave artists far more options, including the fact that acrylic paints could be used on a variety of different materials, ranging from paper to furniture and fashion items.

The Advantages of Using Acrylic Paint

While oils are still used by most artists, they can take up to fifty years to dry. In addition, their color fades over a period of time. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, retains its color and dries quickly. It is also versatile and can be used on many different surfaces, including paper, canvas, glass, stone, wood, or even different fabrics.

How to Paint on a Canvas Using Acrylic Paint

Properties of Acrylic Paints

Oil paints attain their colors in many different way, some using flowers and others using minerals of some kind. This means it’s difficult for artists to mix different colors. While many of the same ingredients have been used to attain the same colors for acrylic paints, the addition of an acrylic polymer resin has made it much easier to mix the paints. As a result, it is possible for the artist to mix a greater variety of colors. Starting with the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and secondary colors (orange, green, and purple), the artist can mix the full color palette.

The artist can also produce the same effect that oil has when several colors are mixed, i.e. the colors appear as thin stripes on the canvas as they intermingle with each other. It’s a lovely effect.

The acrylic polymer resin is also the reason that acrylic paints retain their color and don’t age quickly. Oil paintings, over a period of time, tend to yellow and crack.

Acrylic paints are highly flexible. Water is be added to the paint, then it is used. The water evaporates from the paint, drying it quickly, and enabling the artist to either paint over it or paint next to it without smudging. Depending on the quantity of water added to the acrylic paint, the mixture will be either very thin, of medium weight, or very thick. This enables the artist to have many different effects, with the thicker mixture giving an 'oil' look to a painting. The thinner mixture gives the ambience of a water color.

History of Acrylic Paints

Acrylic Paint History
Developed in the late 1940s, acrylic paint has only a brief history compared to other visual arts media, such as watercolor and oil. Polymer-based acrylic entered the market as house paint, but its many benefits brought it to the attention of painters.

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Acrylic Paint on Fabric
Acrylic paint on fabric is one of the approaching artistries and a trend among kids and designers!

Use Acrylic Paint to Paint to give your Tshirt a great new look!

Paint on tshirt
Paint on tshirt

Disadvantages of Acrylic Paint

Speed is essential when working with acrylics, as once the color is mixed, it can dry out quickly. You need to use the paint immediately it is mixed, and immediately you’ve finished with it, you need to wash your brush. If you, the acrylic paint will dry on the paint brush, and the brush will be permanently damaged. It’s a good idea to have a container of water close by so that you can dip your brush in when you have completed your paint strokes.

Acrylic paints do have a shine to them and you may or may not like this. Some, however, prefer the high glass of acrylic paints to the more matt finish of an oil painting. In fact, some very famous artists have used acrylic paints, e.g. Andy Warhol and David Hockney.

Two Different Acrylic Paint Formulae

There are two different acrylic paint formulae The first acrylic paint formula is called Standard formula and is similar to oil paint. The second acrylic paint formula is called Flow formula and is much thinner. The first acrylic paint formula would be used for paintings and the second acrylic paint formula would be used for projects.

Best Acrylic Paint to Purchase for Ease and Reliability of Use

Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints- Set of 36 Colors

Liquitex Basics Acrylic Colors- Set of 36 22ml Tubes- Liquitex Basics Acrylic Colors are made with high quality artist grade pigments. They are made to be used right out of the ...

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Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint brushes
Art Advantage Oil and Acrylic Brush Set, 24-Piece

Art Advantage twenty-four piece brush set. Long handle brushes are perfect for both oil and acrylic to use with a free canvas brush roll-up. Twelve white nylon brushes and twelv...

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Video Tutorial on How to Use Acrylic Paints

In Brief: How to Use Acrylic Paints.

Briefly, in bullet points, here’s what you need to do when using acrylic paints.

  • · Pick the right formula – painting or project
  • · Have a supply of thick and thin brushes ready with a container of water.
  • · Have a paper towel nearby in order to wipe the brush immediately you’ve rinsed it with water.
  • · Have a palette in order to mix the paints.
  • · If you make an error, wait a few minutes for the paint to dry, and then paint over it.

You are now an expert on how to use Acrylic Paints!

Updated: 09/20/2012, TessaSchlesinger
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


TessaSchlesinger on 09/20/2012

2uesday, you are exactly right about the smell!!! I think the fact that they dry so quickly is both good and bad depending on what one wants to accomplish. Oil painters might find it irritating as they might want to work with a particular aspect a big longer. :)

2uesday on 09/20/2012

Lots of useful advice here for anyone thinking of starting to use acrylic paints. I have used oil and acrylics and you are right you need to use them in different ways. I think the fact that acrylics dry quickly is useful, they are easier to store and carry around. One other point I discovered is that acrylic paints do not smell as strongly as oil paints so that might be an advantage.

TessaSchlesinger on 09/20/2012

mmm. acrylic paint is quite difficult to adapt to if one is accustomed to using oils. However, if one has never painted before, then, strangely enough it's easier to go from acrylic to oil. Never quite figured that one out, but that's the way it works. I work mostly in markers, though (probably from school days because all interior design sketching is done with markers).

BrendaReeves on 09/20/2012

I'm an oil painter. I took an acrylic classes, and I kept trying to oil paint. Right now I'm taking a water color class. Nice explanation of acrylics. I'm going to watch that video.

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