Why are people snobbish about acrylics still?
First blog for a while, hoping the formatting works now! That's not the rant - I COULD rant about it, but that wouldn't be fair. No. What has ruffled my feathers is a remark an oil painter has made on the Forum - her friends, she said, criticized her for using acrylics rather than oil. Now, I may have misunderstood this of course, but it's not that unusual. People have said acrylics are inferior to oils; not a proper artistic medium; 'they're plastic, aren't they?'; and all sorts of other cobblers' awls. It's not surprising that they used to say it, when acrylics were in their infancy, and the colours (arguably) brash by comparison with oil or watercolour. But to say it now is just ignorant. There are, to start with, many ways of painting with acrylic - you can use them to resemble watercolour, if you want to; you can paint alla prima, as you would in oil, or most would; you can built them up, as the old masters did with their oils - from a monochrome base, you can add layer after layer of glazing, without having to wait a day and an age for layers to dry; you can use them with water, or with medium, or trowel them on with a painting-knife. What's 'inferior medium' about any of that? Whence the snobbish preference for oils? A painter's preference for oils is of course something else again - I fully understand the joys of playing with rich, lustrous, thick oil paint, exploiting its 'disadvantages' - like slow drying - as well as its advantages - like the sheer physical pleasure to be derived from it. I would never want to do without oil paint. But then, I wouldn't want to do without acrylic either - to debunk myth, no, it's not 'easier' than oil, or watercolour (they say you can cover things up with it: well so you can with oil, or gouache; you've still got to go back and get the thing right in the end); they say it's plastic - no it isn't: it's colour bound in resin - as oil paint is bound in oil, as watercolour is bound in gum arabic, among other things; they say the colours are brash, not subtle - that might have been true once: it isn't now. And finally, I can't very well paint my mum's birthday card, which I'm about to do for her 94th this month, with oil paint: whereas I can easily do that with acrylic (she wants a pig - again). Haven't the time for it to dry..... and as she'll probably spill her tea on it, watercolour isn't suitable either (OK, I'm fishing for reasons to like acrylic here). But anyway - acrylic paint takes as much skill to apply as does any other painting medium. And if your friends are telling you it's not as good as the others, or too 'easy', or all the rest of it: they don't know what they're talking about. You tell 'em I said so....