We will be doing a variety of acrylic paintings for my spring class. Only parents can decide if their child is old enough to paint with acrylics. You should read my article about safety here. I recommend that children always wear gloves while using acrylic paint. If you do not feel like your child is ready for acrylics then you can use tempera paint for the projects we will be using acrylic for.
I know parents are intimidated by the thought of using professional paint, but don’t be. Acrylic paints are simple to use. They are also beautiful and long lasting. There are two types of professional paints: oil and acrylic. Oil paints are oil based whereas acrylic paints are water based. Oil takes much longer to dry – sometimes days or weeks depending on how thickly it was applied. Acrylic paints take less than 24 hours to dry. Also, oil paints are thinned down with turpentine, which is dangerous for children. Acrylics are thinned down with water. Acrylic paint is better all around for young children.
There are 3 levels of acrylic paint. Level 1 is for beginners, level 2 is for intermediate and level three is for professionals. The biggest difference is that level 1 acrylics are thinner and don’t go as far. However, they are cheaper. I recommend level 1 for young children because having to mix in water to thin down more concentrated paint is just one more step for young kids that do not have a lot of patience. I do not think level 1 paint colors are as pretty though so if you are hoping to hang this child’s piece of artwork on the wall then you may want to buy level 2 or level 3 paints. My favorite brand of level 1 paint is Liquitex’s “Basic” brand. My all-time favorite brand of acrylic paint is Golden, but they only make professional paint. They are also pretty expensive.
You can buy acrylic paint at Michael’s, Roberts, Hobby Lobby and many other craft stores. There are also many online art suppliers. Some of my favorites are Dick Blick, Artists and Craftsman, Reuels and Cheap Joes.
Painting with acrylics is easy. There are a few things you should know. You can paint on anything: paper, canvas, art board, wood, cardboard, fabric... I will be posting about canvas, paper and canvas panels in the next week. Also, the only thing you need when painting with acrylic paint is water, paintbrushes and a paper towel. If acrylic paint is left on a paintbrush it will dry and ruin the brush. So always rinse the brush in your water or keep it in the water if it is not in use. Also, acrylic paint is similar to watercolor in that you mix it with water to thin it out and make it more transparent. If you want it thick and opaque than do not add water. Though paint and water is all you need, suppliers such as Golden and Luiqitex also make acrylic mediums and additives that can be a lot of fun. They have a wide variety of mediums that you can mix into the paint to change the consistency or texture or slow down the drying process, or make the paint crackle and much more. I will introduce students to 2 acrylic mediums in the spring class: molding paste and light molding paste. I will be posting about these in the next few days. There are many fun things that kids can do with the acrylic mediums. They are very fun for experimentation.
Before I sign off I wanted to answer a question.... one of my readers recently asked me how many days a week the class will be. I will be breaking up the weekly lessons into 4 posts and I will post them Monday through Thursday. On Fridays I will be posting any pictures that I receive during the week from readers following along at home. You can choose to do the projects whenever you want to but I will be posting them Monday through Thursday.