About two years ago, I gave away all my paint supplies. It was a box full of professional quality acrylic and oil paint, along with brushes.
Before I gave them away, I had not painted on a canvas in a long time and did not think I ever would. I knew the woman I gave them to would use them.
Just recently, I started drawing again and wanted to paint again. Now I am in the market for the best acrylic paint again.
Back to the drawing board
I know most of the stuff I gave away was the Liquitex brand.
But, I don’t recall little about variations in a paint lightfastness, for instance. I thought I would re-learn the technical aspects and write about it as a getting started again exercise.
Note: Art supply brands and materials like paint are highly subjective.
There are a few factors to consider before making a purchase, though. Let’s take a look.
Paint quality is usually divided between student and professional (artist) quality.
Student quality paints are less expensive than artist quality, may have lower amounts of pigment (more filler), and may be less vibrant.
Artist quality will cost more, may have more amounts of pigment (less filler), and may be more vibrant.
The higher quality acrylic paints may be easier to layer and there will be more colors available.
Generally, student paints work well for hobbyists or new painters and experimenting with new styles and techniques.
Generally, if you are selling paintings, giving them as gifts or planning on keeping them a long while, artistic quality paints are the way to go.
The amount of colors available is staggering — for professional and student quality paints!
When I started painting in school, I remember using one of the pre-made student sets, which saved a few bucks and kept color choices to a minimum.
Lightfastness is the paint pigment’s ability to resist fading as it is exposed to light.
The American Society of Testing and Materials set standards for paint color’s lightfastness.
The ASTM ratings go from I to V, which is the lowest.
A I rating indicates that it has excellent lightfastness. A II rating indicates a very good lightfastness.
“Only Lightfastness Ratings of I and II are good enough for artists’ materials,” according to this ASTM document.
Unless you are experimenting and don’t care if the artwork last, a I or II is the safest bet.
Viscosity is the thickness or consistency of the paint, which can be purchased in low or high viscosities.
A low viscosity paint — also known as a soft body paint — does not have a thick consistency. It is slightly “runny” and used for detail work, for instance.
A high viscosity paint — aka a heavy body paint — has a thick consistency. It can be used to show brush strokes, for instance.
There are mediums acrylic paint can be mixed with, as well. They can change the consistency even more to your liking.