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Reference Library: Acrylic paint
'Acrylic paint' is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water), the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting.

Acrylics were first available commercially in the 1950s. The first commercially available acrylic paints were actually oil compatible.

Acrylics are sometimes used in place of watercolors because acrylics dry closer to the desired color (slightly darker, usually) while watercolors dry lighter (and often unpredictably, especially for beginning artists).

Acrylics are often used as an alternative to oil paints because acrylics dry much faster (usually within an hour or even as little as less than a minute, depending on brand and thickness of application). On the otherhand, oil paints, which consist of pigment suspended in an oil (usually linseed, or other natural oil) base, can take a very long time to dry: a few weeks or as long as several months. By use of certain products, such as those made by many of the large art companies (often termed extenders or retarders) an artist can combine the best qualities of acrylic; low toxicity, longevity and cost, with the drying time associated with oils or enamels, which makes it easier to blend two or more colours into each other. The naturally short drying time of most acrylic does not allow this to occur, but certain solvent-based acrylics as used for airbrush work, may allow the paint to remain fluid enough to permit blending via airbrush. Such mixtures of retarded acrylic or solvent-based acrylic are commonly used by those who paint model figures and by some artists who favor acrylics over oils for normal, canvas or paper painting because of their characteristics.

Though applied to look like oil paints, acrylics are somewhat limited due to the superior color range of oil paints,{{fact}}, something that is fast becoming redundant as more old, natural, and often toxic, pigments are replaced with new, synthetic alternatives, and the fact that acrylic paints dry to a shiny, smooth effect—not surprising since acrylic paints are, basically, plastic. Accordingly, acrylic paint cannot be removed with turpentine, mineral spirits (also known as white spirits), ammonia, or rubbing alcohol. It should be noted that while this is true for most art materials, such as clothing, furniture, and canvas or paper, rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) can be used on many standard water-based acrylics to remove them from certain surfaces, such as plastics, ceramic tiles, some washable wallpapers and most surfaces that are hard or glossy. This is again used by the model figure community to remove old or unnattractive finishes to their models. Xylene can be used as an alternative for some solvent-based acrylics, such as those produced by Tamiya, and on paint like Polly Scale from Testors that use an alcohol for their base solvent, instead of water in normal acrylics.

Another one of the disadvantages of this medium is that paintings can crack and be corrupted much sooner than with oil, however, using suitable extenders that increase the thickness of the paint but make it remain plastic-like, or by applying the paint in thinner layers removes this problem to a large extent. Most painters outside of the 20th Century have mixed their own paints to increase the longevity of the artwork, and suitable mediums and powder colours are available for producing your own acrylic paint.

Acrylic painters modify the appearance, hardness, flexibility, texture, and other characteristics of the paint surface using acrylic mediums. Watercolor and oil painters also use various mediums, but the range of acrylic mediums is much greater. Acrylics have the ability to bond to many different surfaces, and mediums can be used to adjust their binding characteristics. Acrylic paint can change the sheen from gloss to matte, or can add iridescence or texture to the surface. They can also be used to build thick layers of paint: gel and molding paste mediums are sometimes used to create paintings with relief features that are literally sculptural.

Acrylic paints are the most commonly used in grattage (q.v.).

Acrylic paintings should ideally be recognized as being different from oil paintings. Acrylic paintings are a distinct art medium with its own advantages as well as limitations, rather than as a stand-in for other mediums. There are techniques which are available only to acrylic painters, as well as restrictions unique to acrylic painting. Therefore, judging an acrylic painting as though it were an oil painting (or a watercolor) is not always appropriate.

Although the permanency of acrylics is sometimes debated by conservators, they appear more stable than oil paints. Whereas oil paints normally turn yellow as they age/dry(oxidize), acrylic paints, at least in the 50 years since invention, do not yellow, crack, or change.

Some Popular Manufacturers of Artist Acrylics

Winsor & Newton, a subsidiary of Col Art, is the manufacturer of Liquitex, Finity, Galeria, and Lefranc & Bourgeois acrylics. These brands are all manufactured at its factory and distribution centre near London. Daler Rowney is another English manufacturer of acrylic paint.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Acrylic paint".