An introduction to acrylic paints

Acrylic paints are the best starting point for beginners. They can have some of the qualities of watercolours or oil paints, but they are much easier to use. You can use them thickly or add water to use them as washes of paint.

You can choose from students’ acrylics or artists’ acrylics. Artists’ acrylics are better quality, but are more expensive. For those new to use this medium, try a basic set of primary acrylics.

You can buy acrylic paints in tubes, jars and plastic bottles. If you want to paint thickly, choose the tubes, for thin washes choose liquid acrylics available in jars.

Acrylics are water-based, meaning you dilute them with water and clean any brushes or equipment you’ve used with water. It also means that they dry very rapidly, not giving a lot of time to work the paint. You can, however, buy acrylic retarders that slow the drying time of the paint. You can also buy other mediums that add texture and gloss.

As acrylics dry out very quickly, keep them moist on a plastic or ceramic palette. Or, invest in a stay-wet palette designed to keep the paint moist for longer.

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