Acrylic paint is still a comparatively young medium unlike watercolours and oil which have been used by artists for centuries. Paint manufacturers had been toying with a pigmented polymer suspension as early as the 1930’s but the company Liquitex came up with the first acrylic paint as we understand it today, and by the 60’s acrylics were becoming widely accessible to artists around the world.
Nowadays painting in acrylics has been adopted by many artists as their medium of choice having many of the strengths of oil in terms of colour opacity and body without the need to use solvents for mixing and cleaning. Its versatility can be improved with the use of mediums that increase the drying time, change the finish and tweak the thickness or fluidity of the paint largely without effecting the colour strength or breaking down the pigments in the paint.
Typically, acrylics are divided into 2 broad categories; Artist grade and Student grade.
-Artists grade acrylics often contain superior pigment load and naturally occurring pigments leading to greater colour intensity meaning there’s less change in the colour once the paint is dry. They are also formulated to last longer than their student counterpart being made to resist reactions with water, UV light and exposure to the elements.
-Student grade acrylics are made from mostly synthetic pigments and mixes of colours called “hues” which imitate more expensive pigments. The less expensive formulas don’t tend to mix a cleanly but make up for it in handling very similarly to artist quality. Being more economically produced also means they are great for when quantity is required.
So which are the best acrylics we stock?
If you’re looking for more bang for your buck then our own brand ARTdiscount paint offers more paint for the price and quantity in comparison to another other paint we stock. Made by one of the UK’s leading art supplies manufacturers and available in 28 of the most common colours found in any artist’s tool box. The paint has fantastic colour strength and stability and even be used outdoors for mural painting on concrete and brickwork which can last even longer with a good coat of clear acrylic varnish.
Considered by many to be the gold standard for student quality acrylic paints, the Daler Rowney System 3 is characterised by its strong colour stability, slightly satin finish and excellent body. System 3 is arguably the most popular student paint on the market, available in tubes or pots to suit every artist; 59ml, 150ml, 500ml and huge 2.25ltr in selected colours. Boasting a plethora of colours to match even some artists’ quality paints, System 3 has all angles covered, including some unique colours like the antique looking grey-blue Wedgewood and the rich and regal Velvet Purple. A superb choice for an artist looking to match quality with a highly affordable paint. Daler Rowney also offer a selection of mediums for use with their acrylic paints such as iridescent and pearlescent mediums for giving your acrylic paints a subtle and distinct metallic shimmer.
One of the intrinsic qualities of acrylic paint is that it dries swiftly, sometimes in minutes sometimes in seconds depending on the thickness of the application and to extend the work time you usually have to use a slow drying medium of some sort. Atelier Interactive scoffs at this notion with its unique binding formula, the special binder in the paint slowly cures as it dries and unlike standard acrylics work time of the of the paint can be easily extended by adding a little water using a damp brush or water spray bottle without diluting the colour or breaking down the paint. That being said once the paint is completely dry it can be reactivated with use of Aterlier’s Unlocking Formula which reawakens layers of paint so they can be reworked and blended into as if it was freshly applied up to a few days after the painting’s initial drying.
Using high quality pigments Aterlier Interactive can be used with standard acrylics as well but when mixed with them loses some of it’s re-wetting ability meaning it works best for top layers and finishing touches where extended blending time is key.
It is fitting that the pioneers of the first modern acrylic paints should find a spot on our list as Liquitex Heavy Body paints delivery a superb thick and smooth consistency of acrylic fit to be used straight from the tube right onto the canvas it if suits you. Richly pigmented and wonderfully viscous for those strong peaks and deep brush marks used in impasto techniques.
Liquitex uses artist quality pigments in the formulation of these paints meaning they have fantastic staying power and are made to last. Perfect for use with palette knifes, silicone wedges and large brushes.
GOLDEN are a particularly highly regarded brand when it comes to acrylic paints and mediums, their uncompromising approach to colour formulation in their paints leads to superior quality colours across their generous range of 101 colours across a variety of primaries, tints, neutral tones and metallic encompassing cadmium, cobalt and quinacridone pigments. To quote GOLDEN themselves;
“These colours offer excellent permanency and lightfastness. There are no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners, or dyes added.”
If price is no exception or you cannot compromise on quality, then we can recommend precious few alternatives to GOLDEN heavy body.
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