Many people, including myself were wooed into acrylics due to its water-based vehicle, and easy clean up thinking it is easier to work with than most other paints. Some say watercolors are the most difficult medium to master. But in reality, the most difficult medium to master is whatever you decide to work with.
Making an overview for you about the acrylic medium; Liquitex was the first to commercialize acrylics for artists back in the 80s, but the medium was around for decades earlier for industrial purposes by different manufacturers. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, acrylics got a bad rap due to the earlier incorrect formulations which caused many paintings from famous artists to deteriorate quickly. As such, there were little if any teachers dedicated to teaching acrylic paints. Having a admiration for the medium, I decided to go full boar and learn every aspect of acrylics possible.
Unlike oil paint that can be made from home using a few ingredients; acrylics have a plethora of ingredients and require some chemical knowledge and patience to create. Acrylics are by far the most difficult paint to make. There are only two companies who dedicate their efforts toward perfecting the acrylic medium, which are GOLDEN and Liquitex. Liquitex is a sister company of Winsor & Newton. Winsor & Newton have a line of acrylics and are continuing to work on perfecting the medium. They have oil and watercolor paints which are top-notch.
The differences of GOLDEN acrylics and Liquitex are simple. Both lines are of high quality, lightfast and can be used straight from the tube without the use of additional gels. GOLDEN does not add fillers to make the paint uniform, as such the pigments are shown are in all of their glory; i.e., some are matt, some are glossy. Liquitex paints are a bit more uniform and come in a plastic tube, and offers a student grade line of paint called Basics. GOLDEN only makes artists grade materials. By purchasing extenders, you can make your own student grade. With these two manufacturers, there is no wrong choice, just personal preferences.
Taming the acrylic beast is easy. A spritz of water onto the palette before you put the paint on will extend your work time by 15 minutes or more. Lay down the colors in a nickel size amounts then spritz the paint with water. Here in the rainy NW, this technique extends my work time for hours. For smooth blends, lightly mist the canvas before applying your colors.
You can find more acrylic painting articles under Artist’s Resources in the menu.