in the studio: an ode to acrylic


With Valentine’s Day having been last week, I’ve been inspired to profess my love… for acrylic paint!  Just between us, I love it so much that it is the only paint I use for my illustrations.  But when there are so many other options out there for painting, I have become compelled to tell everyone why I think they are so great!  So here I present to you my top ten reasons why I love acrylic paint, along with some snapshots from my studio:

1) Acrylic paint is extremely versatile for use on various surfaces.  It can paint on paper, wood, plastics, metal – you name it, there’s probably an acrylic that can paint on it.

paintings on wood

For these paintings, I used acrylics on small wood panels.  

2) Acrylic paint is water soluble.  Unlike oils, you don’t need anything besides the faucet to thin the paint, which makes it easy and more affordable to use.

3) The drying time of acrylic is VERY fast, which is excellent for my work, which usually requires a lot of layering.  Also, quick drying time makes artworks more portable.

4) When acrylic paint dries, it stays dry.  Unlike gouache, you can keep the layers you have already painted as they are when painting over them.

Beary Happy Camp Out

I use a lot of layers in my paintings! Each one one of those trees, bears, and other tiny objects were painted on top of the backgrounds; this is possible because of the opacity of the paint and the quick drying time!

5) There is virtually no odor when using acrylic (at least from every single brand I’ve ever tried).  This is wonderful.  I work in a home studio, so it is necessary that there is no smell of paint interfering with the rest of the household’s functions.

6) The opaqueness of acrylic is easy to work with.  It can be left as it comes in the tube to stay completely opaque, or it can be watered down to act more as a watercolor.

in progress painting

In this in-progress shot of my illustration, “Coffee Shop”, you can see how the acrylic paint in the background is applied as a wash, and the objects are painted opaquely.

7) Acrylic paint comes in unimaginable numbers of colors!  I usually don’t use the color as it comes from the tube (because that’s boring, and creating my own colors is far more satisfying), but sometimes when I’m having a creative block it helps to have ready-made color color to find inspiration.

8) Most acrylic paint has a high lightfastness – that means it stands up well against fading when exposed to light!  That means the colors of these paintings will stay the original color for a long time – which means the art will have a long life.

9) Acrylics can be relatively inexpensive for an art making material, which is always great!

10) Acrylic paints are used by everyone!  Using acrylic paint, I personally feel connected to the lineage of house painters, crafters, makers, and DIYers who use this medium.  I make my art for everyday people, not just artists, and I like my choice in art-making material to reflect that.

Now that I have professed my love for acrylic paint, I would just like to say that I’m not putting off the idea of using other media in the future, but for now I’m infatuated with acrylic paint.  So, no matter how my art manifests itself in the future, acrylics will forever have a place in my heart!

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