Creative freedom with Amsterdam Acrylic paints and Robert Dutton

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Creative freedom with Amsterdam Acrylic paints and Robert Dutton

Royal Talens’ Amsterdam Acrylic Paints come in both tube and spray form. They’ll inspire you to greater freedom of expression, says Robert Dutton.

Royal Talens’ exceptional Amsterdam Acrylics are available as tube paints in the Standard (student- or beginner-quality) and Expert (professional quality with high pigmentation) ranges, and as spray paints.

The same colours are available across all the ranges and to accompany these there are mediums, binders, gels, grounds (gesso and modelling paste) and varnishes.

Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints


'Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paint is water-based and thus there are fewer unpleasant odours than, say, car spray paints, which do have toxic fumes,' says Robert Dutton.

'Even pastel fixative has more odour than these versatile aerosol paints. However, I still think it is advisable to work in a ventilated area. I keep my studio windows open as I’ve noticed that there are some small particles of paint in the air during continuous and heavy spraying.

'Wearing a simple lightweight mask might be advisable too.'

Colours and packaging

There are 94 brilliant colours, which includes four reflex and three metallic colours, in 400ml cans that are easy to hold, well designed and fit snugly in the hand.

The colours are identified by the band of colour at the top of the can – known as ‘the doughnut’ – that exactly matches the tone of paint in the can.

The cans are labelled clearly and, most importantly, the plastic protective cap fits snugly yet is easily removed and replaced.

All colours, except the reflex colours, are exceptionally lightfast, and should last for at least 100 years under museum conditions, which means longevity for all your creations.

The four reflex colours have a rating of 0 to 10 years under museum conditions but are quite spectacular and would add a new dimension to your creative palette.

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Using the spray paints

Nozzle sizes

Different size nozzles are available for the spray cans, which produce different marks.

The standard nozzle is 2.5mm; the super skinny is 1.5mm, the universal is 2mm, the soft is 3.5mm and the fat is 6mm – this I found particularly useful for larger paintings.

The nozzles are sold individually or in mixed packs.

Clearing blockages

A blocked nozzle can be cleared by placing it on the unblocking aerosol and spraying for 2–3 seconds, although holding the cans upside down after use and spraying for a few seconds will avoid any blockages.

It is advisable to shake the can for about a minute before use then hold the can upright whilst spraying for even surface coverage.

Creative approaches

You can vary the thickness of the line or the area covered by spraying closer to or further away from your work.

Close spraying for longer periods will saturate the area and allows paint runs.

Dampening areas beforehand will also increase paint runs and special effects.

No matter how steady your hand, fuzzy edge marks are visible on close inspection. Crisp, clean edges can be achieved by masking areas with a fairly thick sheet of paper, cut or torn to shape.

Spraying in multiple directions, with different pressures, nozzles and colours will help you to create interesting marks with special creative effects from feathered and blended areas (akin to airbrush work) or more graphical flattened areas of blocks of colour and shapes.

The First Snows of Winter, Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria, Amsterdam Expert Acrylic and Spray Paints on Canson Moulin du Roy Not watercolour paper 300lb (640gsm), (56x56cm)

For The First Snows of Winter, Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria, above, I adopted a bold approach and painted Expert acrylics over blocked-in and blended areas of Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints, allowing both paint films to run and drip, one over the other.

This created a wonderful foundation to build on.

An element of risk and adventure is encouraged when using Amsterdam Acrylic spray and tube paints together – I love the liberation they bring to my work!

Amsterdam Acrylic tube paints

Amsterdam Expert is professional grade acrylic tube paint, whilst the Standard range is more affordable and better suited to students or artists on a budget.

Transparent tubes

Both come in transparent plastic tubes that allow you to see the colour inside and have click lids and are exceptionally good value for money.

The two ranges work very easily with one another and dry to a resilient and durable finish, which makes them great for outdoor work such as murals.

Amsterdam Expert acrylics are more colour intense than the Standard series and have greater viscosity, with a real buttery feel. They are ideal for palette knife and impasto techniques. The Standard range has extra flow, which makes them ideal for underpainting.


Many techniques, such as layered painting and wet-on-wet can be achieved with both ranges; to thin the paint to make glazing possible you could add water to the paint, but it is better to add Amsterdam Acrylic Medium to the water before you begin as it will help you to achieve a really uniform transparent layer of paint.


Amsterdam Gloss or Matt Medium, or both, can be used to create a tantalizing quality and depth to your paintings. All Amsterdam acrylic paints dry quickly and evenly so you can quickly build layers of sumptuous colour and textures for all your chosen subjects.

Colours and sizes

Both ranges are available in 70 colours; Expert acrylics come in 75ml and 150ml tubes and 400ml bottles; Standard acrylics come in 120ml and 250ml tubes 500ml and 1 litre bottles.

Push the boundaries

With Amsterdam acrylics you can really push the boundaries of what you thought creatively possible.

The full range of Amsterdam acrylic paints, spray paints (and Amsterdam acrylic markers even) work exceptionally well together for endless possibilities.

Artists who are about to embark on their first steps into the world of creative adventure with acrylic paints should seriously consider Amsterdam Acrylics as their first choice, simply because of the versatility, affordability and quality of pigmentation throughout the Amsterdam range.

Tidal Surge (unfinished), Amsterdam Standard and Expert Acrylic Paints on MDF, (76x76cm)

For Tidal Surge, above, Amsterdam fine, medium and course pumice was mixed directly into Expert and Standard Acrylics at different stages during painting.

I began with Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints over an Amsterdam gesso ground to create a beautiful coloured background on which to build the rest of the painting.

There is a marked difference in the brightness, thickness and quality of Expert and Standard series tube paints, but both work really well together in expressive painting techniques. The more heavy-bodied and brighter areas are where Amsterdam Expert Acrylic Paints were used.

Demonstration: Winter Scene, Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria

Many expressive painting directions are possible when combining Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints with other media.

Here’s one exciting way using black and white media

Stage one

I started by using various black and white media to paint and draw at the same time.

However, I felt the painting needed to have some soft areas to give it greater contrast.

To have rubbed pastel into the surface and blended it or chosen to glaze again with water media would have merged all the soft media already applied – making a mixed mess instead of mixed media! The answer was to use Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints.

Stage two

After masking areas of the painting I didn’t want to spray, I added Amsterdam Acrylic Spray Paints, using different pressures and at different distances from the paper with the black, white and grey colours.

The torn edges of the mask created lots of useful texture, as well as flatter marks on which to develop further the painting, with soft, feathered areas and blocked-in tones.

The excellent coverage of the acrylic spray paint was useful to add increased depth in certain areas.

For more information about Amsterdam Acrylic Paints visit

Robert Dutton regularly teaches in mixed-media painting and drawing workshops at a number of venues throughout Yorkshire. For further details visit or contact him on 0113 2252481.

To see Robert in action visit


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