Understanding the Basics: What are Acrylic Paints?

Before diving into the differences between artist grade and craft store acrylics, it's essential to understand what acrylic paints are. Acrylic paints are water-based medium known for their fast-drying properties and versatility. They can achieve the look of watercolors or oil paints, or they can be used in their pure form to create unique textures and effects.

One of the advantages of acrylic paints is that they're easy to clean up; all you need is water. They're also long-lasting and won't yellow or crack over time, making them a favorite choice among artists. Now that we have a basic understanding of acrylic paints, let's dig deeper into the differences between artist grade and craft store acrylics.

Defining Artist Grade Acrylics

Artist grade acrylics, also known as professional acrylics, are high-quality paints designed to provide vibrant, long-lasting colors. They are made with a high concentration of finely ground pigment and have a smooth consistency that's easy to control, making them ideal for detailed work.

The primary benefit of artist grade acrylics is the superior color intensity they offer. The colors remain vibrant and true even when mixed with other colors or mediums. However, this quality comes at a cost, as artist grade paints are generally more expensive than their craft store counterparts.

What are Craft Store Acrylics?

Craft store acrylics, or student grade acrylics, are lower in cost and quality than artist grade paints. They have less pigment and more filler, which can lead to a chalky finish and less vibrant colors. However, they are easy to use and are perfect for beginners, hobbyists, or crafters who need plenty of paint for large projects.

It's important to note that while craft store acrylics might not offer the same color intensity or consistency as artist grade paints, they are still a viable option for many projects. They are perfect for crafting, decorative painting, and practicing techniques without investing in more expensive paints.

Comparing Color Quality

When it comes to color quality, artist grade acrylics are the clear winner. They offer a broader range of colors, and the hues are more vibrant and intense. This is because they contain more pigment and less filler than craft store acrylics. The colors also remain true even when mixed with other colors or mediums.

On the other hand, craft store acrylics may appear dull or chalky due to the high filler content. They also tend to shift in color as they dry, which can be challenging when trying to match colors.

Assessing Consistency and Texture

Artist grade acrylics have a smooth, buttery consistency that allows for easy blending and layering. They hold brush strokes and textures well, making them ideal for detailed work or techniques like impasto.

Conversely, craft store acrylics have a thinner consistency, which can make blending and layering more challenging. However, this can be an advantage when working on large projects or when a smoother finish is desired.

Considerations Concerning Durability

Artist grade acrylics are highly resistant to light and won't fade over time, making them the best choice for artworks meant to last. They also have a flexible quality that prevents cracking and flaking.

Craft store acrylics, while not as durable, are still a good choice for projects that don't require high lightfastness or longevity. They are also more susceptible to cracking and flaking, particularly when applied in thick layers.

Price Differences

There's no doubt that artist grade acrylics come with a higher price tag than craft store acrylics. This is due to the high pigment content and the quality of the ingredients used. These paints are an investment but are certainly worth the cost for serious artists.

Craft store acrylics are a more budget-friendly option. They are perfect for hobbyists, beginners, or anyone needing a large amount of paint for crafting or decorative projects.

Choosing the Right Acrylics for Your Needs

When deciding between artist grade and craft store acrylics, consider your needs and goals. If you're a professional artist or someone who values high-quality materials, artist grade acrylics are the best choice. They offer superior color quality, consistency, and longevity.

If you're a beginner, a hobbyist, or someone working on a crafting project, craft store acrylics will serve you well. They are affordable and easy to use, making them a great choice for practice and exploration.

Experimentation is Key

Whether you choose artist grade or craft store acrylics, remember that experimentation is key. Try different brands, play with various techniques, and don't be afraid to mix different grades of paint. What matters most is that you enjoy the process and express your creativity.