Which Paint Type is Best for Beginners?

When we start painting many are confused by the paint media, there is acrylic, gouache, oil, watercolour so what are the differences?  Which one are best for the beginner?  I will explain the characteristics of each type of paint media.

Acrylics

Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint, water-soluble and becomes water-resistant when dry.  The paints are made from a by-product of the plastic industry so they are fairly new as an art medium (1960’s) and have become much more popular in the last few decades.

Acrylics are versatile and easy to use for beginners
Acrylics are versatile and easy to use for beginners

They are easy to use for beginners, they can be used in a diluted way in washes a bit like watercolour or thicker to achieve an opaque finish.  You can layer the paint as it layers with ease because the paint dries quickly so you can go over areas again and again.  The fast-drying qualities of the paint does make blending challenging as you will get lines where the  paint dries.

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Ultramarine Blue or French Ultramarine Blue?

I got asked just this week by a learner what was the difference between Ultramarine Blue paint and French Ultramarine Blue?

The short answers is not a great deal.  In the early 19th century the cost of ultramarine made from lapis lazuli was much higher than any of the other pigments, so much so that some artists did not use much blue in their work if any. 

French Ultramarine Blue
French Ultramarine Blue

Two French chemists discovered some blue residue in a soda furnace one day and wondered if this could be developed into a blue paint to replace the costly ultramarine pigment.  After lots of development work an alternative was developed which was cheaper and soon came into production.  In order to differentiate it from the lapis lazuli it was called ‘French’ Ultramarine.

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