Acrylic Painting: Almost Infinite Options

A Bigger Splash by David Hockney,
1967, acrylic painting.

I’m exploring acrylic painting again, after a hiatus of five or six years. In 2005 a bout with asthma found me attempting to replace oils with acrylics for my landscape painting – an experiment which frustrated me a great deal.

My plein aire work in oil-on-paper relies in part on the sinuous fluidity of oil itself, something I cannot recreate with acrylic mediums.

Fortunately, the asthma is gone, and I have returned to oil  painting the way I love to do it. With acrylics, I learned to avoid trying to make it do something it did not do well, to let the medium be itself.  Acrylic paints are, forgive the pun, amazingly plastic, as in malleable, changeable, flexible.

Recently, my students have been asking how acrylic and oil are different from the watercolor they have been working with. Since I teach a transparent approach to watercolour, I think the addition of opaque white into your palette is the first major change, and it can change everything!

This Artist Daily  post shows just a few distinct styles achieved with acrylic paint.

There are wonderful possibilities for collaging with acrylics, since the liquid mediums function well as both glue and varnish for paper and other items.

  • Acrylic adheres well to many sufaces and is very durable. Here’s a post about painting onto cardboard. Recycled art surface!
  • Newer mediums, extenders, gels, pastes and additives mean you can paint in watery films or heavy impasto, and everything in between.
  • I’ve even seen artists build rich layers of acrylic paint film onto glas, peel it off in strips and weave the strips into sculptural forms.

Got some acrylics? Get them out and try something new today. Here’s few ideas

  • Collage with pretty papers, old greeting cards, wall paper, fabric, ribbons, photos , movie tickets, torn up watercolours.
  • Paint ala prima onto scrap cardboard – a simple still life with beautiful fruits, painted juicy and bright.
  • scrape ridges of paint with a palette knife, putty knife, or even finger paint!

Have fun! Post your work in a comment!!

1 thought on “Acrylic Painting: Almost Infinite Options

  1. I don’t have acrylics, but your information and photos helps me appreciate all kinds of media! Thank you for that, Patrise.

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