I was trying to get organized today, and put all my brands of acrylic paint together by color. I’ve got the higher grade Liquitex and Golden paints, and I’ve got many brands of craft paint. They have different consistencies, some being more fluid than others. They also have different opacities. The professional, or artist’s grade paint varies from some craft paint in that it doesn’t have additives, and there is, generally, more pigment in the paint. Additives theoretically weaken the chemical bond that holds the paint together to some degree, and thus, weaken the adhesion of the paint to certain surfaces. Water does the same thing. It is best to mix acrylic paint with mediums instead. Mediums are acrylic polymer emulsions, which is what the paint itself is made of, only the paint has pigment added to it.
By contrast, these are my boxes of watercolor paint. Not nearly as large a collection. Here’s the deal…Watercolor mixes so much more nicely. The colors are soft and natural looking. I can also mix watercolor instinctively, probably because I grew up watching my mom paint. I’m sure I passively absorbed a lot of mixing knowledge.
Acrylic, on the other hand, is so vibrant in its purest form, the professional grade, that it can be frustrating to mix. Colors don’t do what I expect them to do, and they come out too strong for my taste. The craft paint comes in hundreds of soft colors that I like much better. So, to compensate for the possible additives, I try mixing craft paint with, and coating it with acrylic medium, and then coating it with varnish. Mediums can also be like glue that lock things in, like when you do decoupage. I also mix both grades of paint together. Sometimes it isn’t clear from the labels on the acrylic paint brands that you find in craft stores, which grade they are, or if they have additives at all. The only thing I can say is that the pigments are not as strong, which can work to your advantage in some instances.
Oil, with its more natural-looking colors, is of course an option for anyone who doesn’t mind the smell, the longer drying time, and the cleanup issues. I like to take the non-toxic route and clean up with water. I can’t stand the oil smell either.
I shrank a loose canvas recently, but then someone furry, with pointy ears and a tail sat on it. It got all saggy again. I had some unprimed canvas, and this morning, I pulled the factory canvas off to replace it. I had to staple and re-staple to get it right.