You might have noticed while wandering through the art supply store recently there are a few newer types of acrylic paint out there: heavy-bodied, fluid and open (slow-drying). These different kinds of acrylic paint open up new possibilities for the medium, allowing for even more versatile applications of paint.
What are the differences? Let’s take a look.
Fluid acrylics allow you to use thinner layers of paint without sacrificing saturation of intensity of color. It’s always been possible to thin acrylics with water, or to add various mediums that supposedly make your acrylics more fluid while maintaining the same level of pigmentation. Of course, we know this isn’t possible — no matter what, anything non-pigmented you add to your acrylic paint is going to dilute your color to some extent.
Fluid acrylics have a lower viscosity than standard, thicker acrylic paint, while keeping the same level of pigmentation. They help acrylic painters achieve many of the same effects as oil and watercolor painters, including glazing and washes.
Heavy-bodied acrylics, on the other hand, allow for thick applications of paint. You might already know because of their fast drying time that these acrylics work well for impasto painting, and that by adding gel medium, they can be made even thicker.
Heavy-bodied acrylics allow you to create thick layers of paint even without adding medium. When applied with a palette knife, heavy-bodied acrylics hold their peaks, and tools can be dragged across fresh brushstrokes to create texture.
These acrylics are also excellent for showcasing the artist’s hand and the gestural qualities of his or her brushwork.
Open or slow-drying acrylics
Open or slow-drying acrylics are the acrylics that many painters have long been asking for. They have a much slower drying time, eliminating the need for spray bottles and extending agents.
Open acrylics increase the amount of time wet paint may be worked into on the painting surface as well as how long paint can stay on the palette. The advantage there is that an artist may mix larger batches of color without worrying that any will dry and go to waste.
Painting with open acrylics makes the process much more like painting with oils. While several acrylic manufacturers sell lines of slow-drying extending gels and mediums, right now, only Golden of the major manufacturers has a line of actual slow-drying paint, called Open, of course. So if you’re an acrylic painter who hates that rushed feeling, open acrylics are probably what you’re looking for.
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