A few months ago I made the offhand comment that I use acrylic paint because I’m too impatient to wait for oil paints to dry. And while that is true, it is also true that I found the chemicals painters use to clean oil off their brushes so noxious that after receiving some oil paints, brushes, a canvas, and turpentine for Christmas as a young teenager I never thought much about painting again – well, not until my 20’s when I had my own place and was in charge of buying my own art supplies. It was at that point I “discovered” acrylic paint and to be honest, can’t imagine why anyone would want to pain with oils.
Acrylic paint was first engineered in the mid 1930’s but wasn’t available for commercially until the 1950’s. The early acrylic paints were pigmented resins, retained some of the qualities of oil paint, and really bore little resemblance to today’s acrylic paints. Golden and Liquitex were involved with the production and commercialization of acrylic paints at the very beginning with the company Rowney (now called Daler-Rowney) expanding the market to European artists by the mid 1960’s. Today, there is a mind boggling spectrum of colors available, in multiple consistencies and grades, with various mediums to thin, thicken, and add texture. Some of the other positives of painting with acrylic include the previously mention quick-drying time as well as allowing artists to paint on a wide variety of surfaces and a quick, and odor free, clean up with soap and water.
All of that is even more amazing when you consider that before oil paint artists used tempera paint which was typically made from pigment (which could come from ground rocks or sea creatures) and egg yolk.
Science and modern technology are beautiful things.