What is Acrylic & Watercolor Painting?

Acrylic Painting VS. Watercolor Painting

Generally, if we were to ask somebody that has never done an artwork before, to choose which art material would they try, high chances are they would say watercolour. And there is nothing wrong with that, rather it is quite reasonable. Watercolour is more portable, can easily be washed off and it is one of the most common materials we used to play with as children. But did you know watercolour is actually harder to handle compared to acrylic? Let us discuss on some of these materials’ traits and gain more knowledge to prepare ourselves with beforehand.

Acrylic works from dark to light and layer by layer where u can wait for one layer to dry before moving on to another. Whatever new layer that you put on top can either compliment or totally cover the previous layer. Which means for any unwanted brushstrokes, you could just let them dry off, simply cover it with a whole new layer and they shall vanish. Different from watercolour, light to dark, you should plan out your colour layers more efficiently. Even though you could use water as an eraser, it shouldn’t be too much as it might damage the paper.

There are lots of techniques you could do with watercolour. There’s wet on wet, wet on dry, water mark, lifting and so many more. The results are rewarding but a strong level of brush control is definitely required. If you could handle watercolour very well, then most probably acrylic wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Which it also implies that acrylic is more beginner-friendly. You could use a minimal amount of water in acrylic and still make a good image but for watercolour, water-ratio is crucial.

Thick and thin
If you’ve been wanting to use a palette knife, then acrylic would be your perfect companion. It may not be that easy to do but the impasto technique is definitely fun. Although you could also do it with oil paint, acrylic is still more environmentally friendly as it is water-based. While for watercolour, it has more of a thin and diluted kind of look to it. It is very suitable for images involving landscapes or a line and wash style of painting. The colours you can get from watercolour are vibrant yet transparent while acrylic colours are definitely opaque and more saturated.

The use of white
For acrylic, artists use white paint to be treated as highlights or to lighten up the shade of a chosen colour while for watercolour, for any white spots needed, they must be left aside carefully as white colour should only be from the colour of the original white paper itself. This understanding alone could actually help a lot in giving one a better understanding on how watercolour should be treated. The lightest colours depend on the water level in one’s brush and the white paper, not the white paint.

Time to dry
Acrylic and watercolour share around the same amount of time to dry but the only difference is, you could always reactivate a dried off watercolour painting. At any time after the painting is done, just add water, apply strokes and voila it is ready to maneuver again. But for acrylic, once it is dry, it will turn into this rubber-like material which can never be used again. On the painting it is fine as you can work on it layer by layer, but if it’s on your palette, then you might want to plan out the amount of paint to use each time to prevent colour wastage.

Watercolor painting

If being taken cared of properly, almost a museum class kind of maintenance, a watercolour painting could last up to 100 years. That is if you can get access to a museum treatment. If not, then it should only take a few years for it to slowly fade off. But for acrylic, it can last for centuries. As mentioned before, acrylic colour turns into a rubber-like material when it dries up. This is the same factor that makes it so much longer lasting compared to watercolour. If you wish to pass on your paintings to the upcoming generations and you’d like to have that little feeling of assurance, you now know which material to go with.            

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