View Full Version : getting started

02-16-2001, 04:22 PM
Today I walked around the art section of my favorite arts and craft store with a start-up kit of Winsor and Newton Infinity(?) acrylics, some canvas and then put them back. I work in watercolor now, but was curious as to whether I might be better suited to acrylic. Before I spend so much money could I have some of your opinions about acrylic vs watercolor and any tips you might have as to the best way to begin. Thanks.

02-16-2001, 05:02 PM
Hi, Catjoe:

I just recently started with acrylics. I got a small Liquitex set (that was about a month ago, I guess, or maybe two), and now I have thirty-some tubes of colors. A little excessive? Maybe, but I'm loving painting with them.

They are very versatile. You can use them (almost) like oil paints (but they dry much faster), and you can use them like watercolors, mixed with water, in transparent washes. Canvas or gessoed paper.

Hard to know if you're going to like them unless you try them. Why did it occur to you that they might suit you better?


02-16-2001, 06:14 PM

Hi and welcome to Acrylics! I ditto Victoria's comment about getting a starter set of Liquitex. Also pick up a few brushes just for your acrylics.

If you work large, get a couple larger (3/4" or so), medium, and smaller inexpensive brushes. You can use your watercolor brushes as well. But if you have favorites you don't want to risk them just yet. Once you get the feel for and like working with acrylics you'll know what you can do and not do "brushwise". And if you do alot of fine detail, use your H2O brushes, just keep them wet or wash immediately so they don't dry out. Filberts are nice to start with, along with a couple of flats or brights.

You can use acrylics like you do your watercolors if that's comfortable for you, then be brave and apply the paint. Also, you can work from dark to light with acrylics since it's an opaque medium.

Have fun! And please do, let us see what you're working on.


P.S. Also have a spray bottle of water handy to lightly spray your paints to keep them moist, especially if you live in a dry area.

L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

[This message has been edited by Artistry (edited February 16, 2001).]

02-18-2001, 10:22 AM
I have recently begun experimenting with acrylics, too... after having worked previously only in oils. I just wanted to compare and contrast them. While I am certainly not willing to give up oils, I do see the value of acrylics for underpaintings and for their fast drying time. Another little advantage...they seem to be less expensive. I can see their potential for painting while traveling because they arent as messy and dont require as much 'stuff' like turpentine and mediums, etc. I visualize doing a painting, then rolling it up when its dry in a few hours and packing it. With oils, I cant imagine how I'd get past the slow drying time while traveling.


02-18-2001, 10:38 AM
I use acrylics mostly. When I want to stop painting but have way too much paint on my pallets (I usually use plastic margerine tops) I just pop them in a ziplock and put them in the freezer.
I love painting in acrylic because of their versatility.

Cap/ I will paint today!

Kevin M
02-19-2001, 07:39 PM
What I love about acrylics is their big advantage and disadvantage rolled into one - the fact that they dry quickly. You have to adopt a different technical attitude than you would with oils - a sort of cross between watercolour and oils.
The painting senior service is oils which has surrounded itself with a mystique of chemistry and potions that takes a lifetime to perfect and whilst undeniably better for some subjects, given the amount of trouble and strife, is not that much better than acrylics in the hands of an expert.

Heresy that may well be, but I have yet to detect the difference between oils and acrylics in a fine art print and, at the end of the day, the image is what counts since most of us will never see the original.

02-19-2001, 07:54 PM

Bingo! You have captured the essence of what is involved in painting in acrylics, especially when coming from another medium:

"You have to adopt a different technical attitude..."

Well put.


02-19-2001, 10:03 PM
I have been using acrylics for 9 years and oils for about 3. I was so used to the quick dry that it took awhile to get used to oils. Definitly two different styles. I use coated paper plates in the bamboo holders to paint from and I use the paint without any water or additives for a look closer to oil. They are fun and you learn to paint faster with them. good luck

Kevin M
02-20-2001, 03:55 AM
I forgot to add in my previous post that many of the concoctions employed in oil painting are not necessarily to improve the quality of the image but to prevent the painting from disengaging itself from its ground or devouring itself to the point of disintegration. Acrylic paint, on the other hand, will adhere to just about anything and is both flexible and inorganic.


02-20-2001, 06:31 PM

Acrylics are just plain wonderful. Oils are traditional and the creme de la creme, however, acrylic paints under the hand of a good painter are magic as well. It's not the media, it's the artist that counts.

I have always said that if you have a crayon or a brush in your hand, if you can paint, you can paint. It it doesn't matter what you are using, it is what you can do with it that counts.

L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

Kevin M
02-20-2001, 07:21 PM
I quite agree Diane,

I do like oils for some subjects but I prefer acrylic for most.


Kevin M (http://homepage.eircom.net/~bot/paint/km.htm)

02-22-2001, 01:02 PM
How refreshing! I paint with acrylics. I took a paint class once and the instructor painted primarly in oils. She made some derrogatory comment about how you have to put so much stuff into acrylic (I was using some slow dry, I guess that's what caused the commnet). I'm thinking what is the difference? You put things in oil too as far as I know. I do love the effects you can get with oil, but for now, I am sticking with acrylic.

Security is mostly a superstition....Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

02-22-2001, 01:16 PM
My paintings done with acrylics are much better than my watercolor or oil paintings. Why? Because I'm not afraid to paint with them. There is no fear that the next stroke I make might irrevocably ruin the painting. No worry that if I paint this color over that color, it's going to crack and fall off the canvas. As a result, I'm experimenting with colors and textures and glazing in a way I never dared with other kinds of paint. An amazing improvement. This may sound unhumble, but: I think my work with acrylics looks like gallery quality, whereas my watercolors and oils almost always fell short of what I would consider professional looking.

02-22-2001, 07:18 PM
Just a comment - if you mix acrylics with too much water there is not enough adhesion left to make the paint stick to the surface. This is different than watercolor that will stick when dry no matter how diluted it is. If you want very thin washes with acrylic use a medium instead of just water.

A nasty surprise is if you glaze with too much water and then try to apply a second layer and the first layer comes off http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/eek.gif (happened to me in the beginning).

Visit my gallery at Artistnation (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/henrik)

Kevin M
02-23-2001, 03:34 PM
You are quite right Henrik,

I found that one out, the hard way, many moons ago. I always add medium to water ever since. It is also useful for binding pencil drawing lines to stop them smearing.


Work (http://homepage.eircom.net/~bot/paint/km.htm)

02-23-2001, 05:54 PM
Originally posted by henrik:
if you mix acrylics with too much water there is not enough adhesion left to make the paint stick to the surface

Is that if you're using them on paper like watercolor?

Keith Russell
02-25-2001, 12:19 AM

As an airbrush artist, it's pretty much a given that I would paint with acrylics. (True, there are airbrushers who paint in watercolour, or inks/dyes, even oils), but most of us use the ready-made airbrush paints, which are acrylic-based.

I've been painting with these paints for twenty years, at first using coloured pencils for detail work.

Over the last few years, though, I use acrylic paints for detail areas, and often employ sponges and other textural effects, as well as using various texture gels and media, in addition to traditionaly-applied (brushed) acrylic paints.


Keith Russell
Synthetic Sky Studios
Science Fiction Fine Art
[email protected]

02-25-2001, 06:21 PM

I agree. For tight illustration rendering acrylic is wonderful. And unlike other mediums (I have used gouache w/ watercolor as well as casein for illustrations & architectural renderings) it allows for great latitude and multiple techniques. And errors are very easy to correct.