Emrys Art - Acrylic Information

One of the great advantages of acrylic colour is that the strict and complex rules necessary to produce long term stability in oil painting do not exist for acrylics. With oils, oxidation can cause long term dimensional changes; with acrylics flexibility, durability and water resistance are characteristics of the resin and further modifications by the artist are not required.

However, since oils have been used by artists for over 500 years, it is inevitable that other mediums will be compared to it. Attempts to compare acrylics with oil and water colour have led to many misconceptions regarding the acrylic colour itself. This is partly due to the fact that the final painting may look similar but the techniques used to achieve it are different. If acrylics are not treated as a medium in their own right, their full potential will not be exploited.

There are two issues worth noting with acrylics. All media can be overthinned by the addition of too much solvent. When painting on canvas or board, acrylics should not be overthinned with water or the pigment will be exposed from a lack of binder. Use a medium in addition to water in order to maintain an appropriate level of binder. 

And finally, the recurring question, ‘are acrylics less permanent than oils?'.  Used correctly, the answer is a firm ‘no' for two reasons; i) regarding the pigments, AA and A rated colours are as lightfast in acrylics as they are in oils, and ii) regarding the binder, providing a suitable emulsion is selected and the total system is formulated correctly by the manufacturer, acrylics are at least as permanent, if not more so, than oils.

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