Materials & Techniques

Acrylic Paint—History and Technique

Acrylic paint was developed to meet the needs of the Mexican painters of the 1920s who were creating outdoor murals. Both oil and fresco painting lacked the durability to withstand outdoor conditions.

Like oil paint, acrylics supply the artist with a wide choice of techniques and effects. It can be applied to canvas, wall board, paper, and building surfaces. Acrylics are mixed with water and applied with a brush or palette knife. They are normally quick-drying; however, the artist can add a gel to slow the drying rate and allow some blending of colors on the surface itself. Thin glazes can be used to build up form and color or an impasto technique can be used with acrylics. Acrylic can also be sprayed onto a supporting surface.