Acrylic Basics – An Introduction to the Medium

If you want to get your feet wet in painting, but are not ready to deal with solvents and oil paints or the transparent layers of watercolors, you might find acrylic paints a great place to start.

Acrylics dry faster than oils and are water-based paints that are not water soluble when dry. They come in three different forms, heavy body, soft body, and fluid. Heavy body paints are like a firm paste, soft body paints are creamy, and Fluid paints are like using a viscous inks. With the different type of paints you can get a different effect according to Robert, who works in our fine arts department.

tesia-blackburn-3.jpg“You can use a heavy body paint for texture, a soft body will give you a smooth finish and a the fluids will give you a nice watercolor effect”, says Robert.

There are also a variety of mediums you can mix with the paints to get these effects, however its sometimes easier to get your effects if you start closer to where you want to be, Robert said. A fluid medium can thin your paint and make it similar to an ink without damaging the integrity of the color and a gel medium can help thicken the paint for textures.

Gel mediums are also great for creating new looks to your work; just mix the gel with a bit of a particular color to capture its hue, but still have a transparent paint. These mediums can even act as a glue and are great for collaging and as transfer mediums.

The best part about acrylics is that it can work great on most surfaces without having to do too much preparation for it, and when you’re done it’s easy to clean up. Also if you start off with glossy paints, but then realize a matte finish would look better you can just varnish it with a matte finish and the problem is easily solved.

“We don’t want to tell anyone what is the right paint to start with because there isn’t one paint medium that’s better than another,” Joni Marie, one of the managers at Flax said. “I like oils, but everyone works differently and may find that acrylics or another type of paint fits their needs better.”

Often customers who want to try painting for the first time and have little or no experience may find acrylics as a good starting point, according to Joni Marie. “Acrylic can be a stepping stone into the art world, but it’s not just a beginner’s medium,” she said.

Flax carries a variety of brands from student to professional grade like Liquitex, Golden, Winsor Newton and Sennelier among a few others.