Our page banner is a detail from the painting 'First Class Marksman' (1946) by Sir Sidney Nolan.
Art Materials for Acrylic Painting
Art Materials for Acrylic Painting
The materials used in our acrylic portrait of Robert Burns are displayed in our numbered illustration above and described below:
1) This is the preparatory drawing of Burns done in pencil on paper.
2) This is the finished unframed portrait on a stretched canvas.
3) This is the acrylic gesso that was used to prime the canvas. The stretched canvas is prepared with several coats of acrylic gesso, each sanded smooth before the application of the next, creating a perfect surface for painting.
4) These are the tubes of acrylic paint used to create the image.
5) This is the range of stiff hogs hair and soft sable brushes used to apply the paint. All the fine details of our portrait were painted using sizes 1, 0 and 00 sable brushes. A craft knife with a curved blade was also used to scrape back and repair any mistakes in painting.
6) These are the water pots and pipettes used for mixing the paint. Pipettes are very useful tools for accurately measuring mixtures of water, medium and paint.
7) This is the palette used for mixing small quantities of paint. When acrylic paints dry on an acrylic palette, the paint peels off like a skin and you rinse the palette in water. This highlights another major advantage of acrylics over oils: cleaning up after using acrylics is a more hygienic and pleasant task than cleaning up after using oils.
8) These are the bottles of acrylic medium (gloss and matte) which were used for mixing coloured glazes.
Although you may use water to thin acrylic colours, it is best to add some acrylic medium to maintain the durability and elasticity of the paint. Acrylic medium comes in bottles of gloss, and matte medium to meet a range of surface effects. You need to experiment with various mixtures of paint, medium and water to create the type of glazes that suit your painting technique. Some artists will patiently build up many thin glazes of paint to achieve a specific effect; others want to get there fast and use thicker mixtures.
9) These are the airtight containers (old 35mm. film canisters) used to hold and prevent glazes from drying out. During a painting you invariably find, for a variety of reasons, that you need use some glazes again at a later stage and it is very difficult to mix up a perfect match. Therefore, it is advisable to mix up more than you need and keep the remainder in an air tight container.
All the acrylic painting materials used in our portrait of Robert Burns are Liquitex products.
Liquitex Acrylic paints have many great qualities:
- They come in tubes, bottles and jars in a range of volumes.
- They thin, mix and clean with water.
- When dry they are permanent, waterproof, flexible, non yellowing and resistant to ultra-violet light.
- They have a wide range of permanent colours from which to choose.
- They adhere to most surfaces.
- You do not need to use toxic solvents to clean up.
- You can varnish an acrylic painting soon after completion - it is recommended that you wait for six months after finishing an oil painting before you varnish it.
- They have a greater versatility of technique than any other medium.
- Acrylics are as versatile as oils when it comes to impasto painting with a brush or palette knife and have a jewel-like radiance when applied as transparent glazes of colour.
- The greatest advantage that acrylic paints have over oil paints is their quick drying time: minutes as opposed to days.
- This is also their greatest disadvantage as you do not have the time for subtle graduated blending of colours before the paint dries. You can use retarder mediums with acrylics to slow down the drying time (they double it) but they do not give you the same versatility. However, you can adapt your technique to compensate by stippling graduated colour as demonstrated in the background of our portrait.
- Therefore, if you are used to painting with oils, you may have to adjust your painting technique accordingly to adapt to the strengths of acrylics.