What is Acrylic Paint and Why Do Artists Use it?

Acrylic paintings are a stunning addition to any home, and whether you’re the person looking to create a vibrant and textured layer to home décor or you’re the person holding the paintbrush and all the other secrets, acrylic paint seems to be a very popular choice.
I’m no exception; it’s my choice of medium, too. But, the question is, “why?”. So, I thought I’d share my findings with you. Everything from its make-up and the history to the benefits of using acrylic for original handmade paintings.
  1. How is the Paint from Acrylic Paintings Made?
Acrylic paint is a fantastic art substance that brings a picture to life with vibrant colours, 3D depth possibility and imagination with all the flexibility of the brush stroke.
Yet, the amazing pigments of acrylic can’t stick to a canvas alone; it is just a powder and needs to be emulsified with a binder to achieve that silky smooth substance we all know and love.
The three main ingredients used in acrylic paint are: the acrylic resin, the binder and the pigment. However, these can differ between manufacturers who might want to add surfactants to disperse the pigment, anti-foaming agents or dyes as a cheaper alternative to pigment.
Together, these ingredients create a water-based substance requiring quick work due to a fast-acting dry time of up to 20 minutes.
  1. A Brief History of Acrylic 
In comparison to watercolours and oil paint mediums, the synthetic addition of acrylic paint is a relatively new possession. Having only come into the world within the last century, there is still a gaining popularity where current, new and seasoned artists are making the decision to change the medium of their original handmade paintings.
In fact, it was a German chemist named Otto Röhm who published a dissertation in 1901 about the applications of the new synthetic resin called acrylic. Then, in 1915, he secured a patent for ‘polyacrylic ester’, used to bind the paint in industrial lacquers in the same way we’d see in modern acrylic paintings.
Artists across the world (mainly in America and Mexico) were beginning to test the possibilities of this new paint and, by 1955, the first commercially available water-based acrylic paints were made available.
Since then, famous acrylic paintings have been created around the world and are recognised today. Some examples are:
  • Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans
  • Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl
  • Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic
  • Kenneth Noland’s Turnsole
  • Katia Zhukova’s Ailsa
  1. Why Are Acrylic Paints a Good Choice?
There are a few beautiful features of acrylic paint which truly bring it into the spotlight for any artist. With it being a water-based polymer emulsion, the paint has a very quick drying time while maintaining a thick structure and vibrantly opaque pigment.
Often, the drying time can vary between 7 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the brush stroke and the brand of paint. Despite this fast-drying time, it is a very flexible type of paint for an artist to use as they mix well, can be cleaned with water when wet, will work with almost any surface, have a very subtle odour and can be thinned (with no more than 25% water) to increase its pliability.
Need I say more?
Among all the amazing benefits of using acrylic in original handmade paintings, there are some key brands that provide consistent elegance, class and quality to the canvas. Some of the best brands used for acrylic paintings in the UK include:
  • Windsor and Newton
  • Daler Rowney Cryla
  • Liquitex Heavy Body
  • Royal & Langnickel
  • Atelier Interactive
So, when it comes down to it, acrylic is the source of creativity and the medium for expression for so many artists out there. Click here to see a range of the potential acrylic pieces that could adorn your walls, from stunning cityscapes to the wispy tastes of nature in balance.
And, whether you’re considering changing to use acrylic or looking to create a statement wall with original handmade paintings of acrylic brushstrokes, you now know why it’s such a popular choice in a modern artist’s world. If you’re the latter, have a read of my other blog; “Using Art to Create a Statement Wall: Everything You Need to Know” to find out more about adorning your 2021 home with stunning pieces of acrylic masterwork.

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