Acrylic paint

All you need to know about acrylic paint

According to Tate, "Acrylic paint is water-based fast-drying paint widely used by artists since the 1960s. It can be used thickly or thinly depending on how much water is added to it. "


Acrylic paint was first marketed in 1958 in the United States and it is now the most used paint and the most important innovation since oil painting in the 15th century. It has created a revolution for artists, opening up new possibilities.


Acrylic paint uses a synthetic resin to bind pigments. As it can be diluted with water and used thinly or thickly depending on how much water is added to it. Acrylic paint will dry within an hour, if not within fifteen minutes. Acrylic paint is the result of a mixture of pigment, acrylic resin and water, that’s why the paint becomes hard and resistant.

Gift, Kenneth Roland (1961) - Credit TATE


« The worst thing about acrylics is that they dry fast, and the best thing about acrylics is that they dry fast. » Debbie DeBaun


Because of its characteristics, acrylic opens up the field of possibilities. Its biggest quality is that it can be applied on all supports: Wood, paper, cardboard, chipboard, plaster, plastic, metal, etc... 
This is one of the key things that make acrylics a great medium to start with when beginning to learn to paint. 

Acrylic paint is permanent, unlike gouache or watercolour, it does not re-dilute. Once dry, it hardens permanently. A lot of artists prefer acrylics because of that, but this can be a hassle if the paint dries out on the brush or palette. 

Acrylic colours can also darken slightly as they dry, which means that the colour you mixed may not be the exact colour that ends up on the canvas.


“A bigger splash” David Hockney (1967)  - Credit TATE

Artist David Hockney was an early champion of acrylic paint, using it to create some of his best-known works of the 1960s.


 Hollywood African, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1983) - Credit Jean-Michel Basquiat

 Full, Michael Craig-Martin (2000) - Credit Mutual Art

« Use acrylics like acrylics – don't set yourself up for disappointments. » (Robert Bissett)


Famous Artists that used acrylic paint :

    • Mark Rothko
    • Helen Frankenthaler
    • Andy Warhol
    • Kenneth Noland
    • Bridget Riley
    • Roy Fox Lichtenstein
    • Michael Wagner



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