Did you know there are 4 main types of acrylic art paints? Do you know what they are most useful for? Let me explain a little about each type and we won’t be in the dark at the art store the next time we go!
4 Basic Types of Acrylic Paints
The four types of acrylics are Fluid/Flow, Heavy Body, Open and High Flow. There are many professional brands as well as cheap student paints. I’ve tried many times to utilise the cheap paints without much satisfaction.
Acrylic Paints that I most often use are – Golden Acrylics, Matisse Acrylics, Winsor and Newton Acrylics, and Daniel Smith Acrylics.
These acrylic paints have proven to me over the years they won’t dry ugly and dulled; nor will they fade; they are luminous; smooth, buttery, silky; easy and fun to use and mix.
Flow or Fluid Acrylics
Flow or Fluid acrylics are of a heavy cream consistency, quite pourable, yet with all the pigmentation of the regular acrylic paints.
4 Techniques that Fluid acrylics are sensational for:
- washes (wet into wet especially), glazing techniques
- airbrush if diluted
- very fine brushwork, detailing
- printmaking with gelli plates
Structure or Heavy Body Acrylics
Heavy body acrylics are thick paints that work brilliantly for impasto techniques. The palette knife is a great tool with the heavy body acrylic paints as they will ‘bulk up’ to create sculpted like forms. While this type of paint is still semi damp, its easy to scrape, draw, scratch into it to create patterns and details.
Below Image is a great example of Impasto using Heavy Body Acrylic Paints.
Open Acrylics are a slow drying paint, that act similar to oils. They allow a much longer blending time which in turn permits corrections and alterations far longer than regular acrylics. The Open acrylic paints provide a very soft blurred edged look, perfect for creating more depth especially into the distance. This link takes you to a previous article on depth in the background, middle ground and foreground which you may find useful.
Personally, I’d suggest these paints if you happen to live in a hot dry climate. The regular acrylic paints will dry nearly immediately on a warm day, leaving unwanted sharp edges all over the painting… in the background, middle ground, foreground.
But, not so with Open Acrylic paints.
Depth and perspective ‘issues’ due to accidental hard edges everywhere, won’t be the problem with these paints.
High Flow Acrylics
High Flow Acrylics are very liquid, ink – like in viscosity. Perfect for fine brush work, calligraphy, airbrushing, tight exact rendering and for fun…. great for a ‘pouring painting.‘
Below Image, Summer’s Dream, used a combination of acrylics using a majority of Fluid acrylics, with various mediums to thin and dilute the paint including flow medium.
The White areas were cutouts of fabric, papers, string, lemongrass leaves placed in a random design.
To summarize, there are 4 basic types of acrylics (fluid, high flow, heavy body, open.) Each has their own quirks, their own assets.
There are many more techniques I used fluid acrylics for that I didn’t delve into today.
But the above mentioned 4 techniques that the Acrylic Fluid paints excel at are glazing, airbrush, very fine brush detailing and printmaking with gelli plates.