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Millie Gift Smith Art Blog

Why I Paint in Acrylics

by MILLIEGIFTSMITH , February 29, 2008—12:00 AM

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Painting in acrylics has many advantages. I started using them when I could no longer use oil paints-because of the toxity, oils affected my lungs. So I decided to try the acrylics. In case you are not familiar with acrylics, I will tell you about them. It is a manmade product of modern science. You can thin the paint with just plain water or an acrylic gel medium. It will dry quickly to a tough, flexible film which wont crack and takes a lot more physical wear and tear than any other medium. Once dry, acrylic paint is insoluble in water and tough as nails. The quick drying seems to bother some painters. I have found this quality an advantage rather than a detriment. You can also use it as a watercolor, or like you would paint in oils. In fact, some of my acrylic paintings are hard to tell if it is oil, or acrylics. One of my favorite ways to paint in acrylic is to use a blank canvas and put the paint out and just start to paint. I prefer the canvas to paper. However you can use it on paper too. If I use paper, I coat it with a layer of gesso first. I take all my own pictures and so I will start with one of my photos and just go to it. If I make a mistake, I can paint right over it , but it does take getting used to. I like a challenge when I paint, so why dont you accept that challenge? I find I can use the same method of painting with acrylics as I did when using oils. You can drybrush, scrumbling and glazing, thus taking advantage of the quick drying time. To some extent, the fast drying of acrylics can be retarded by adding gel to the paint. It is a colorless medium which gives the pigment a buttery consistency and imparts a glossy, wet look to the finished painting. However I prefer using just plain tap water to thin my paints, and then put a coat of varnish over it when I am done. You can use glossy or matte varnish for finished work. If I want to relax and just paint--to push the brush around and just have fun--I will use this medium. Here is a new painting I just did with acrylics. If you have never tried this medium--I suggest you do, With much practice, you will find that it is really a great way to paint. One thing I have discovered--it will dry much darker, the oposite of watercoor--which dries lighter. It does take some practice as all new mediums do. So "Good Luck"




  Nancy Savageau

03/07/2008 * 13:22:27

I'm a novice artist and started out using oils, but due to the toxicity stopped using them and began experimenting with acrylics. They are by far much easier to use, clean-up time is faster then oil, and I like the quick drying time. I enjoy looking at your landscapes and seascapes in acrylic and study them for technique. Great work!


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

03/04/2008 * 23:12:10

I think you've done a great job extolling the virtues of acrylic paint. I'd add only a few more. I use a flow media that helps thin the acrylic without diluting your color as significantly as straight water. However, outside of the drying time, one of the major reasons I paint with acrylics is the ease with which they clean up. I know my personality well enough to be honest with myself, and I am far to lazy and irresponsible to deal with all the mess and chemicals that must go along when using oils. With acrylics I can stay up late painting and when I quit all my brushes are clean and ready to use again in 5 minutes flat. You can't beat that!

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