Acrylic Painting supplies

Here's some inside information on acrylic painting supplies. Synthetic brushes are best for acrylics, and to make the paint dry slower, you need to add a retarder (but it only helps for a relatively short time). Scroll down for more.

Acrylic painting with classical pigments

Quick tips on acrylic painting supplies

  • Quality paints cost more, but have better pigments (the same pigment as in oil paints)
  • Synthetic brushes are best for acrylic paint
  • Acrylic is waterborne: no turps.
  • Acrylic paint dries really fast. For slower drying, you need a retarder.
  • Acrylic paints don't always hide well, unless you build thick layers.

Cheap acrylic painting supplies

Acrylic painting supplies are relatively cheap, and synthetic brushes cost less and look better than oil paint brushes of similar handling and quality. But don't take the cheapest paints. Better quality paints have better pigments (more authentic colors), and a better binder. It's just like in interior paints: "latex" paint is a paint that can be made of different materials - PVA, vinyl, or acrylic resin. The stronger and glossier the paint is, the more acrylic resin it has, and the more it costs.

Acrylic paint
  • Acrylic gesso and "Universally primed" boards and canvases are good for acrylic paints.
  • Acrylic can be painted on stretched paper as well

Synthetic paint, synthetic colors?

Acrylic painting supplies are synthetic materials, they represent new and abstract art painting. This notion affected the color range in which popular paints were made: a lot of the acrylic paint colors were rather abstract too. Somehow, a pure turquoise or a really dark carmine is hard to find as an acrylic paint. There are a few brands though, who tackled this issue. Golden Historic Acrylics has a acrylic paints with the same colors as classical oil paints. The pigments are more modern, but the colors are the same. Ara acrylics is also a good brand with authentic colors.

Of course the binder (the glue-component of the paint) adds a synthetic look as well - this can be dealt with by using matte and glossy varnishes.

  • Here you'll find a list of basic colors, and how to mix them,
  • Blickrylic is cheapest - no pigment specs. But if you plan to use mediums, it'll do fine.
  • 'Amsterdam' is a pretty acceptable quality, but the 'carmine' is too light, and the turquoise too dark.
  • Golden Historics has great vintage colors - all "hue", meaning: imitation. But they're pretty.
  • Liquitex has the best consistency (thick, buttery).
  • Finest brands: Winsor and Newton, Maimeri Brera, Sennelier, Old Holland.
  • Check here at Blick''s acrylic supplies for all the brands mentioned here.
  • For more info on pigments, also check this page on oil paint colors

Drying times

The main feature of acrylic paint is: it's a really fast drying paint, and it stil has body. And, with acrylics, dry means really dry, not cheesy-tender like oil paints can be. But for some of us, it just dries too fast. You can only work on a painting as long as the paint is still wet. Retarder mediums provide a little more "open" time. But, if you paint with retarder medium on an absorbent ground, the paint will still dry fast. Check here for retarder in Blick's house brand of acrylic mediums

Acrylic painting supplies: brushes

acrylic painting supplies

A synthetic paint is best painted with synthetic brushes. That's great, because synthetic brushes are relatively cheap, and have a great look-and-feel to them - resilient, with a great shape. For oil paint, brushes like that (marter hair) are a lot more expensive. Have brushes in different sizes, round with tips for small details, a few bigger flat and rounded ones, and a few house paint brushes. Pig hair (bristle) is an option, if you like to see ropey brushstrokes.

Acrylic mediums

Another good thing about acrylic painting supplies: the mediums. There are mediums for gloss, mateness, structure, and even to build fast drying thick structured masses. Transparant mediums can be used to glue pictures, or light materials like rope, beads, glitter or seashells to your painting. The possibilities are endless. This is of course a danger as well: it's hard to handle all that luxury. Which will be easier if you first learn black-and-white (tonal values) and color.

  • Most acrylic binders look white and milky when wet, but are transparant when dry.
  • One exception: blick's modeling paste. This is a hiding white for under the colors.
  • Matte varnish makes dark colors lighter, gloss makes them darker.
  • Golden Acrylic has the widest range of effect-mediums: clear gels to build peaks, gels with glass-beads, fibers etc. You'll find them here at Blick's


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