What is an Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic art paints have been around since the late 1940’s.

They are an alternative to the traditional oil paints. At the time of being introduced acrylics turned the artist paint industry upside down.  By making the impossible now totally possible.  Similar to what the iPod and iTunes did to music.

What is an Acrylic school Paint?
What is an Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic’s dry fast, can be thinned, washed and cleaned up with water but more importantly for use in schools they are non-smelly and are so much safer.

But that’s not all; an acrylic medium can be added to an acrylic paint to turn it into almost anything you can think of from a fabric paint to a block printing ink.  You can even thicken acrylics, slow down the drying time or just water it down and use as a watercolour.   
Acrylics School Paints red

All this was not possible before acrylics came along.  An Oil Paint could take months for just one colour alone to dry.  An Acrylic can take just 20 minutes. 

How they work:

Acrylic paint is fast drying paint containing pigment suspension in acrylic polymer emulsion.  They can be diluted with water, but this does adjust the last ability of the paint.  Care is needed when adding mediums or thinning with water if you still want a durable lasting finish (we will go into this in another blog post). 

Acrylics School Paints:

Acrylics tend to be permanent and will stain.  Acrylics are best suited for Intermediate and Secondary Schools and are not suitable for Pre-School or Early-Entry Primary Schools. 

A good quality acrylic is made to last for years by being waterproof and non-fading, much like an exterior paint on a house.  

The big difference between high end artist and school acrylics is mostly the quality of the pigment.

Artist Acrylic:  Highest pigment levels - Varied price range - Widest choice of colour - Limited colour shift.

School Acrylic: Less paint coverage – Lower grade acrylic pigments, More affordable price range - Greater colour shift - Good for large scale painting and under-painting
impasto artist acrylic paint

Acrylic Safety
Acrylics are normally non-toxic and non-smelly.  There are a number of standards and safety seals around for manufactures to conform to from CE, ASTM to ACMI (in the US).  This means the raw materials have been checked and regulated for toxicity.
See Here for more information.

Just saying non-toxic on the label is not enough.
CE, ASTM to ACMI seals
Just saying non-toxic on the label is not enough
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Environmentally Green:
Some brands carry official environmentally aware mark or seals. These normally mean the paint and raw materials are not harmful to the environment.  But some Enviro marks are just to say the company that makes the paint is ‘green’ but maybe not the ‘products’ they make. Again

Just saying ‘environmentally safe’ on the label is not enough.

Environmentally Green educational paints
Some know environmentally safe seals from around the world

Things to look for when purchasing a school acrylic:
There is a lot of very low grade product out in the market. Even some of the most well-known brand names get product made in China that is low grade. This is a very price driven market. Don’t be fooled by the big brand names for quality.  

Also watch out for cheaper in-house self-branded acrylics. You wouldn’t buy a self-branded car, computer, TV or iPhone.  A quality acrylic is no different.  

You want a paint that will last for years and give good colour and flow.  Why would you even consider for a few dollars less buying acrylic paint that will fade, have less pigmented colour or wash-off when it gets wet?

It really does not cost much more to buy lasting quality….sometimes it is even cheaper.

Things to look for: 
Waterproof:  Where is it made? Brand name?  Do other schools buy it?  Safety Seals: See above.  Does it feature in most school supply catalogues and web sites?

Lightfast (non-fading) – This is a sign of quality.  If it is not mentioned on the label it is a sign of a lower grade of acrylic.

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