Monday, June 24, 2013

Acrylic Paint

I just recently bought some acrylic paints.  They were a steal & I just couldn't resist!  I haven't worked in acrylics since my first year of college, so this is a lot of fun.

On the left, a palette with cover and on the right the Reeves acrylic kit I recently picked up.

After I used watercolors as a kid, acrylics were the next step.  I initially used the leftover pots of paint from my mother's craft projects and then graduated to "real" tubes of acrylic.  They have a wonderful versatility.  For those of you who haven't worked with acrylics, or want more background, Wikipedia has a nice article.

For me, acrylics are a missing link or bridge between watercolors and oils.  They are mixed with water and can be used on paper, like watercolors.  They can be used in a thick, impasto technique on board or canvas, and are permanent, like oils.  You can use either watercolor brushes or oil brushes.  And, don't feel limited to just paper or canvas -- you can paint on virtually any surface with acrylics.

Today we're going to look at some of the ways to use acrylics and then dive into an actual doll next week.

Acrylics can be used in a thinned wash, much like watercolors.  One of the advantages (or disadvantages, I suppose...) is that these washes are permanent.  You can't pull out the color once it dries.  They are ideal for transparent layers.  These are a fast-paced paint and dry quickly.

Acrylics can also be used in a thick application, like oil paints.  You can add a medium to slow drying and work these much like oils.  There's a variety of media to add to acrylics: iridescent, high gloss, matte, etc.  Acrylics naturally have a slightly plastic sheen to them when dry -- that's what they are, after all -- liquid plastic!

On the left, paint out of the tube.  On the right, the same color thinned with water.

A few tips about working with acrylics:
- Use a plastic palette.  I like one with several depressions in it.  They can be had at most craft stores for under $2.
- If you plan on using the same colors for multiple painting sessions, cover your palette.  I take plastic wrap and cover up my paints, pressing slightly into the paint to form an airtight seal.  There are specially designed wet palettes, but I never had much luck with those.
- Clean up immediately!  Once acrylics dry on your brush, that's it.  You can use water & dish soap.  Many art teachers and professors over the years have recommended regular old Dawn for cleaning up paints.  That's what I use for watercolors, acrylics, and oils.

Next week we'll create a doll using acrylics on watercolor paper.  Til then, get comfortable with your acrylic techniques!

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