Acrylic paints are so nice to work with. From easy clean-up to an array of brilliant colors―who could ask for more? In working with acrylics, I've noticed a few aspects about this water based paint that I'd like to pass on.
Most of my art students peers preferred working with acrylic paints as I do, mostly due the affordability of it. I have to say, art professors encouraged the use of it too. In looking back, I'm wondering if professors liked acrylics due to the easy clean-up. Typically, art classrooms are not the cleanest classrooms on campus anyway; and if most students used oils instead, I can't imagine what the classrooms and sinks would have looked liked!
One tip I learned in school had to do with what acrylic paint is actually made of. Acrylic paints are colored liquid plastics (even though some acrylic paints are flat and others are high-gloss). Perhaps this is why acrylic paint is considered to be craft paint. Since it is plastic, acrylics dry quickly which is what most of us want. But, to slow down the drying-out process on your paint palette, put a couple of damp paper towels over it and squirt the paint directly on top of it. Surprisingly, the paint hardly spreads out and absorbs.
Unfinished, dry acrylic paints are quick to scratch prior to applying the final finishing touches (sealer paint). When acrylics are applied to tinware, scratches are more susceptible than usual. Even if you are painting on canvas, expect to varnish your paintings upon completion. You can spray on a water base varnish or brush on a water base antique glaze to seal the acrylic paint. Acrylic paints are not only fun to work with, but most assuredly, the results are consistent and durable for both indoor and outdoor use. (revised 2/12/2006)
Debbie Jensen, Graphic Designer and Photographer http://www.debjensendesigns.com