Art - Acrylics
Acrylics were developed in the twenties to withstand high temperatures that oils could not. They are a mixture of pigment and synthetic resin and proved much more suitable for works like murals. Mexican artists like Diego Rivera (1886- 1957) pioneered their use.
Acrylics have a matt finish, and are similar to watercolours and gouache in terms of handling. Acrylics dry very quickly and do not alter in colour and texture during this process. The artist can then apply further layers over it without altering either coat. The medium is hardwearing and will resist chemical decomposition. Its density of colour can also be adapted from opaque to transparent simply by diluting the paint.
Among some of the first American artists to use acrylics were Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Acrylic paint became widely available in Britain in the nineteen sixties and was used by Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Peter Blake.
A basic selection of colours can provide the artist with a wide range of tones and a varied palette. Similar equipment is used as with oil painting and watercolours e.g. brushes, knives, etc. However it is absolutely essential to clean any materials that are used with acrylic paint immediately after use due to the fast drying nature of the medium.
Unlike oil paint it is not imperative to apply a ground beneath acrylic paint, although a primer is still generally used. Unprimed surfaces will dry to a matt finish while a primed piece will have a slight gloss.
All types of canvas will work as a support for acrylics, once a little slack is left when stretching an unprimed board to fit its frame. This is due to the fact that the primer and paint will cause the surface to become taut. Wood, paper and metal are also good bases to paint with acrylic.
To create a glaze, acrylic is mixed with a small amount of medium and then brushed thinly on the canvas to allow the ground to show through. Impasto can be made by simply squeezing the paint directly onto the canvas or by mixing it with a little water and applying it with a knife.