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For a few years I attended mixed media art classes and made an enormous amount of works both in class and at home. We had to use our own materials and I would buy Windsor and Newton acrylics from my local art store.
Acrylic is a plastic based paint, so when the paint dries not only is it waterproof but it also doesn't wash off or run if the painting is splashed with water. They are very easy to use and mix and acrylic paint dries quickly, most paintings will be dry to touch in about 30 minutes. Acrylic paint is sort of a half way house to oils, which are mores difficult to use and take days to dry. Acrylic paint is also cheaper than oil paint.
~Using Acrylic Paint~
I rarely paint with anything other than acrylics as these most suit my style of art. Newton and Windsor acrylic paints come in metal tubes and you squeeze out the paint like toothpaste. It's thick, so when you squeeze the paint out it keeps its worm-like shape. Acrylic paint can be mixed with water to make it thinner, or even translucent and there are Newton and Windsor products you can buy to alter the texture. There is a thickening paste which can be added to the paint resulting in more textured finish to work, and it is also possible to add things like sand to the paint to alter the texture.
Straight from the tube Windsor and Newton acrylic is very easy to work with and can be applied to paper or boards with brushes, trowels or anything really you can get your hands on. The paint covers very evenly and smoothly, it's easy to get a very perfect finish to the surface of a work. Newton and Windsor acrylic stays wet for a little longer than other acrylic paints which makes it easier to shade colours together, but because it dries to touch in around 30 minutes it alleviating the need for a long wait to put a new layer of paint on.
~Cleaning Up Acrylic Paint~
I always wash my brushes in washing up liquid and warm water and the paint comes out fine. When the paint dries on things; brushes, the floor, fingers etc. it is a bit like a plastic coating which to an extent can be picked and pulled off. The colour comes out of the yellow and black "plastic" and soaks into fingers, surfaces and brushes more than some of the other colours. Obviously it isn't washable paint, therefore it is best to cover surfaces before painting.
I did find I would often end up with paint stained fingers. The yellow would stain my hands, whilst the black got into my finger nails. I can't stand dirty fingers so I would scrub my hands with soap and warm water to get it off. Even so sometimes it would take a couple of days until my hands were completely paint free.
This is "adult" paint and therefore not safe for small children to use. It does has a slightly chemical smell, although its not toxic at the levels at artist would use. However I wouldn't suggest inhaling it! I never had any problems with the paint irritating my skin, although some people may find this a problem if they allergic to any of the ingredients. The paint isn't damaging to the environment.
There is a really vast array of Windsor and Newton acrylic colours. I however never really saw the point of buying many of the colours and preferred to mix them myself. I always had in my art box: black, white and brown plus all the primary and secondary colours and gold and silver. From these colours I could mix any other colour and shade I required. Sometimes when I ran out of a lot of colours I would buy a set, there are various sets with various mixtures of colours available and it can work out cheaper to do this.
Newton and Windsor acrylic paint gives a very smooth and even finish to a work. The colour of the paint doesn't alter as it dries, as with some cheaper acrylics, which is really good for the artist. The paint is very durable and doesn't scratch easily once it is dried. It also covers most surfaces, which for me as a mixed media artist is very useful.
~Price and Size~
The acrylics are available in different sized tubes. All shades are available in the small 60ml and quite a large range are available in the 200ml, the size I usually bought. A few of the most popular colours are available in even bigger sizes. The 60ml tubes cost around £4 each, the 200ml work out much better value at around £8 each. It generally is cheaper to buy them as a set, although some colours are not available in sets such as silver and gold. I was lucky that I got a 10% discount card for my local art shop from my art class.
Windsor and Newton are probably the best brand of acrylic paints I have tried and worth the money if you are serious about creating artworks. I have displayed and sold a few works in the past although now I don't have the time or the space to create more art these days. My art is however everywhere, on walls at my home, my parents and in my office at work. The acrylic works are still in perfect condition despite moving house and even taking trips on the tube. A great quality paint which works with the artist - I give it 5/5.
As part of my job involves illustration, I spent a great deal of time painting all manner of unusual subjects. Although my preferred medium is watercolour, I frequently use Acrylic paints when I require added vibrancy and texture in my work. For those of you who aren't aware of the benefits of acrylic, it's basically an incredibly versatile medium that can be mixed with water, yet becomes completely waterproof when dry - ingenious! Like oil paint, acrylics can be layered as thickly as you like, producing a wonderfully tactile effect if desired. Another benefit of acrylic paint is the fact that it can be used on so many surfaces - paper, plastic, glass, metal, the backside of a Yak - you name it, it will paint on it! Although there are a range of acrylic paints on the market, arguably the most popular (and my first choice) are the ones made by Windsor & Newton.
I currently own the 10 x 60ml Galeria multipack which contains; Titanium White, Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Blue, Cadmium Red Hue, Phthalo Green, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Raw Umber, and Mars Black. The selection is basically a great range of 'starter' colours, containing everything you should need (with a little mixing required) to produce a versatile spectrum of colours.
Cost wise, I picked the paints up from my local art shop for around £20, although Amazon are selling a multipack with 20ml rather than 60ml tubes for £13. Basically, the Galeria range is Windsor and Newton's chepeast Acrylic option, with their 'Artists' range representing the next step up. The difference between the two is summed up by Winsor & Newton themselves, who say "(the artists range has) a much wider and balanced spectrum of colours to choose from, giving you the widest choice of pigments as well as unparalleled brilliance of colour". I have actually used both the Galeria and Artists range of Windsor & Newton acrylics, and can honestly say I didn't find a huge difference between the two.
Like toothpaste, the paints come in tubes which are easy to squeeze (always squeeze from the bottom), although unlike toothpaste, you shouldn't clean your teeth with them. Also, rather than plastic, the tubes are made from a thin metal which is supposed to ensure they will last for a long time. With proper maintenance, the white hexagonal lids are easy to twist on and off - you should wipe the tube's nozzle clean after every use, as if you leave paint to dry around the lid, you'll find them impossible to remove and subsequently get back on next time you require them.
Overall, I would recommend Winsor and Newton Galeria Acrylic paints as a reasonably priced and versatile brand. I've used acrylics in the past which have been 'muddy' in tone, yet the Winsor and Newton range is vibrant and pleasing to the eye. Similarly, the drying time (between 10 - 20 minutes depending on the thickness of paint) is particularly impressive. Highly recommended.
I have been using this type of acrylic paint since I was 13 and my parents bought me an Acrylic paint starter set with six tubes of paint, some outlined boards ready to paint and some brushes.
Galeria has become my preferred type of acrylic paint for the following reasons:
1: The paint is thinner than the consistency you would expect from a tube of paint- It is much thinner than the consistency of oil paint or even toothpaste for example, it is more the consistency of a thick sauce. This makes it easy to squeeze out of the tubes.
2: The tubes have the colour of the paint printed all over them and not just on a little sticker or strip on the tube so it is easy to identify the colour you need or want to buy. This may be of benefit to anyone senior who was taking up painting as it makes it easier to grab the correct colour from your box of paints.
3: The tubes have screw lids which are easy to open as the lids are not just round at the top- they are shaped like a hexagon so you have more grip. I also find the tubes are less likely to jam shut as the paint flows well it does not tend to get clogged inside the lid and over the thread in the screw top.
4: As the paint is smooth and a bit thinner than other acrylic paints, I find it is easy to get the very last drop out of the paint tube as the tube is made of thin metal and when your tubes are running out, you can squash the part of the tube nearest the lid to squeeze the last bits of paint out (as you would with toothpaste). I find this more difficult with oil paints or thicker acrylic paints as the paint does not want to come out of the tubes!
5: These are easy to find on the high street- they are sold in WH Smiths (where they are often cheaper than in art shops). WH Smiths tend to have level pricing per tube size and do not charge extra depending upon the opaqueness of the paint etc. One 60ml tube will cost you around £3.30 but they also sell box sets of 6 colours (as in the photo). These are sometimes on offer so it is worth becoming acquainted with the art section in your local WH Smiths.
6: The paint itself is versatile- as it is very smooth coming out of the tube, it mixes easily, you can add water and use it like a watercolour paint or you can use it out of the tube neat and apply it thickly for more texture (this is a general benefit of Acrylic paints which is perfectly suited to the Galeria paints).
7: It comes in 40 colours and in tube sizes of 20ml (normally only in 6 or 10 tube packs), individually in 60ml tubes and in 250ml and 500ml squeeze bottles. The 60ml tubes sell for £2.88 online (studioartshop.com) but between £3.30 and £4.20 in art shops. Art shops tend to charge different prices for different colours which has always baffled me. I think it is something to do with the opaqueness of the paint and its lightfastness?
8: It is economical and is heralded as the Winsor and Newton's value range Acrylic paint as Winsor and Newton sell a more upmarket Acrylic paints series called "Artists Acrylic Colour" which sells for between £6.25 and £11.95 on their website per 60ml tube in comparison.
9: It is suitable for beginners, students, children who have art lessons at school and want to buy paints and also artists and adults to use as an acrylic paint.
Some people may not like this for its consistency as it is very smooth (like a thicker tomato sauce) but I find one tube goes a very long way and it is easy to mix. I have tried more expensive acrylic paints that when you squeeze the paint out of the tube it stays in a sausage shape (I'm not sure how to explain this any better!) but I find that the more expensive paints are too thick to use over large areas and they don't flow as well on the paintbrush.
I think if you are used to using oil paints and want acrylics to feel like oils, then you will be happier using the more expensive paints which are thicker like oils. I began with acrylics and rarely use oils, so I prefer the Galeria range as it is cheap (but not so cheap it does not do what you need it to- you can buy so called "acrylic" paints in Wilko's for 70p for a 300ml tube! These look suspiciously like poster paints in a tube- I love Wilko's but I would not buy paints and their range only has 6 basic colours).
Overall I would recommend Galeria acrylic paints for anyone who wants to start painting (acrylics are perfect as they are water based so you don't need turps or white spirit) as the paints are cheap but user friendly. You can buy a few tubes a month and end up with a decent paint box which will last you for years.