The Quickie Guide to Basic Acrylic Paint Types

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So many acrylic paints , so little time! If you ever wandered the aisles of an art-supply store feeling half-excited, half-overwhelmed, we feel you. You just need a little guidance. So here's a quick lesson on the main types of acrylics out there and what each can do for you.

Fluid Acrylics

Fluid acrylics aren't as thick as standard paints, but the colors are as intense and saturated. Their main benefit is that you can use thinner layers of paint and get the same kind of glazing and washing effects as oil or watercolor .

Heavy-Bodied Acrylics

These are the opposite of fluid acrylics: You use them when you need thick applications of color. Because they dry fast, these acrylics work well for impasto painting: Just apply with a palette knife. Heavy-bodied acrylics are great whenever you want to showcase the texture and quality of your brushwork.

Open or Slow-Drying Acrylics

The longer paint takes to dry, the longer it can stay on your palette. So with these acrylics you can mix larger batches of color without worrying they'll dry out (and have to be thrown out) — you don't need spray bottles and extending agents.

You can paint with these acrylics as if you were painting with oils: They'll stay wet on the canvas so you can take your sweet time finishing your artwork.

FYI: The only company that sells a truly slow-drying paint is Golden, with their Open line.

Think about what style of acrylic paint would work best for you, then march yourself back into that art-supply shop!

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The Quickie Guide to Basic Acrylic Paint Types