Acrylic paints are made from pigment that has been suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion, which is a mixture of two substances that cannot be blended together. These paints did not become commercially available until the 1950s. At this time, they were oil compatible. Acrylics are a favorite form of paint for many artists because of their ability to dry quickly, unlike oil paints, which can take several weeks to dry.
It is possible to dilute these paints with water. When diluted, the resulting painting can look similar to a watercolor painting or an oil painting. In fact, acrylic paints are sometimes used instead of watercolors because they tend to dry closer to the color that is desired. Usually, this color is slightly darker than it appeared when first applied to the canvas. Watercolors, on the other hand, tend to dry lighter, and the amount of lightening can be unpredictable. This is particularly true for beginning artists.
Despite the fact that acrylic paints can be diluted in water when being used to create a work of art, they are also highly resistant to water once the art dries. This is advantageous, as it helps protect and preserve the final piece.
Acrylic paints are also used as an alternative to oil paints, because they are much faster to dry. In fact, they usually dry within in an hour, and many dry in less than one minute. The amount of time it takes the paint to dry is largely dependent upon the brand and how thickly it is applied.
For those artists who wish to lengthen the amount of time it takes for the paint to dry, it can be mixed with extenders or retarders. These products are available for purchase from most large art companies. Extending the drying time of acrylic paints makes it possible to blend colors more easily with one another while working on an art piece. Those who paint model figures often use extenders or retarders, as do those artists who simply prefer acrylics over other paints but need a little more time to complete the work.
Acrylic paints are also thought to be more permanent than other types of paint. Oil paints have a tendency to turn yellow as they age and oxidize. Acrylics, on the other hand, have shown no signs of changing, yellowing, or cracking in the 50 years since they have been invented.