The 8 key differences between Artist quality vs Student grade acrylic paints

by Will Kemp

in acrylic painting

differences-artist-vs-student-grade-paintA brief overview of Artists’ vs Student quality paint

There are usually two grades of colour available, artist quality and student quality.

But what is the difference?

And, is it worth the cost?

When first starting painting lessons it is often overwhelming to try and decide which brush to buy, what canvas to paint on and the biggest choice of all. What paints to buy!

Your paints can help greatly in your progress as a painter, what usually happens is a hesitancy on investing in the ‘good quality’ paints until you yourself become a better painter.

This is a mistake.

One of the key things to understand is the labelling and differences between artist and student quality paint and how better quality paint, can make your life as a painter much easier…

Artist quality

  • Highest pigment levels
  • Varied price range
  • Widest choice of colour
  • Limited colour shift

Student Quality

  • Less paint coverage
  • More affordable price range
  • Greater colour shift
  • Good for large scale painting and under-painting

It should be simple, but sometimes all the information on a paint tube can be confusing.
With a few easy tips, you will soon know your phthalo from your quinacridone.

1. Price

Paint pigments can be expensive and vary in cost. Manufacturers group colours into various price bands depending on the amount of the raw material and what the raw material is.

The binder (acrylic polymer) is relatively inexpensive in comparison. That is why artist quality paints are split into series.(e.g. Series A, Series B) and others numbers (e.g. Series 1, Series 2). The higher the letter or number, the more expensive the paint.

e.g. Cadmium red is an expensive raw material so is series 9 (highest price) whereas burnt umber is relatively inexpensive so is series 1 (cheapest price).

It is important to note that in Student quality paints you can only get series 1 and 2.

So, can you not get Cadmium red in student quality paint?”  I hear you ask, well you can get Cadmium red hue.

When you see “hue” written on a paint tube it means imitation, not a pure Cad red pigment but a combination of cheaper available reds to make a colour very close. So you can imagine it’s never going to have the colour saturation that an artist grade paint will have.

 2. Coverage

This is how easily a paint colour covers another paint colour, for example, a black paint will cover a yellow easier than the yellow will cover the black.

3. Opacity

Pigments vary in their transparency by nature, different paints have difference levels of opacity depending on the paint pigments chemical make up.

So a paint made from earth, such as an ochre will be made from crushed up rock, this, of course, is hard to see through! So will make a paint that has pretty good coverage.
If you were using a paint that the pigments comes from a dye or is man-made, such as a quinacridone, (called synthetic organics) the thinner and more translucent a paint will be.

They are often labelled on a paint tube, for example, Winsor & Newton use the following abbreviations:

  • T for transparent colours
  • ST for semi-transparent colours
  • SO semi-opaque colours
  • O opaque colours

Pro tip: It is very handy to understand the differences so if you want to make a super translucent glaze, the quinacridones are perfect for glazing (thin layer of paint)

A rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the name it is usually a transparent paint. If it sounds more ‘earthy’ it will be more opaque.

Transparent colours are used for glazing and tinting.

Opaque colours cover other paints easily and are great for making solid, flat areas of colour and covering up any mistakes you’ve made.

4. Paint sample

On most artist quality paints, there will be a colour swatch of the actual paint on the exterior of the tube. This is really helpful when deciding which paints will suit your needs.

5. Colour range

Artist grade paints have a larger choice of colours available.

6. Paint consistency

In some ranges of artist quality paints, such as Golden Acrylics, the manufacturer offers a range of different paint consistencies, this is unique to acrylics.

Different binders are available in different consistencies so you can have a thick paint or thin paint but the thinnest paint will have as much pigment as the thicker paint.

This can be very useful.

If you want a solid colour to cover your canvas but still want to leave a ‘tooth’ on your canvas, use fluid acrylics. It will give you a deep, rich colour without the diluted, watery effect which you would have if you thinned a thicker paint with water.

Paint consistency range

  • Heavy body acrylic
  • Fluid acrylic
  • Airbrush acrylic

7. Colour shift

In acrylics the colour of the paint when wet changes when it dries, it goes slightly darker.

This is due to the binder (acrylic polymer) that is usually used, being white.

The acrylic emulsion is white when wet but becomes clear as it dries. As a result, it darkens.

Pro tip: If you like adding mediums to your acrylics to increase drying time be careful of the increased colour shift because acrylic medium is just like adding more binder-more white so the colour shift will be more pronounced.

Winsor & Newton artist acrylic use a clear binder and claim no colour shift but I have found there is still a little colour shift, but not as noticeable.

In student quality paints a white binder will have been used and often the cheaper you go the greater the colour shift.

” it makes it harder for the beginner to accurately mix the colour they want, not from lack of trying but using the wrong materials.”

8. Tinting strength

This refers to how much or how little paint is needed to alter the colour of white paint.

So if you used phthalo blue (high tinting strength) you would only need a very little amount of paint to drastically change the white. In comparison to say Terre Verte which has a very low tinting strength.

So for bright, colourful abstracts Terre Verte would be the wrong choice, but for toning down a bright pink in your portrait painting palette, Terre Verte would be perfect.

The Fundamental Information on a Paint Tube Label

artists-paint-acrylicThe amount of information that appears on the label of a paint tube (or jar) varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but good artists’ quality paints will typically list the following:

  • Manufacturer’s name – Golden, Liquitex, Winsor & Newton
  • Common name for the colour – Cadmium Red
  • Manufacturer’s name of colour – e.g.Winsor blue,
  • Names of the pigment(s)
  • Color index name/number(s)
  • The vehicle the pigment is suspended in (e.g. acrylic polymer emulsion for acrylic paint, or gum arabic for watercolour and gouache).
  • Lightfastness or permanence rating –  AA and A rated and are recommended as permanent for artists’ use.
  • Quantity of paint in tube or jar – e.g. 60ml
  • Series –  Manufacturers group colours into various price bands depending on the cost of the raw material.
  • Paint swatch of actual paint– this is great to be able to see the consistency of the pigment.
  • Permanence – paints are rated on their permanence to light

For beginners, that’s about enough information that you need to know for an informed choice to get started but for the paint geeks there’s more detailed information below:

1. Pigment colour – Often paint colours that are almost exactly the same are called different names depending on the manufacturer. One companies ‘yellow ochre’ is other companies ‘yellow ochre pale’ they also name the colour depending on their brand. Winsor & Newton ‘Winsor blue’ has the same chemical properties as golden ‘phaltho blue green’.

Although the pigment chemical names will be the same there will be subtle differences in shade.
You can be a paint detective though by understanding the colour index of pigments.

2. Colour Index Number– The label on a tube of paint should tell you what pigment(s) it contains. Many of the more exotic named paint colours are simple a mix of two or more existing colours.
Student quality paints don’t tell you this information.

3.Color Index Name -Every pigment has a unique colour index name, it consists of:

Two letters. These stand for the colour family, e.c PB – blue, PG- green
And some numbers. Which identifies the pigment. For example:

Golden Heavy Body Acrylic

Manufacturer name – C.P Cadmium Red Light
Chemical name – Cadmium sulphoselenide
Chemical index number – PR 108

PR108 is PR(red) 108  (Seleno-Sulfide) more commonly known as cadmium red

Golden Heavy Body Acrylic

Manufacturer name – Alizarin Crimson Hue
Chemical Name – Quinacridone, Chlorinated Copper Phthalocyanine
Chemical index number -PR122/PR206/PG7

4. Quality standard information -Paints made in the USA have information regarding conformance to various ASTM standards:

e.g. ASTM D4236 (Standard Practice for labelling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards)

D4302 (Standard Specification for Artist’s Oil, Resin-Oil, and Alkyd Paints)

D5098 (Standard Specification for Artist’s Acrylic Dispersion paints), as well as the required health warnings

You might also like:

So now you know the differences what should you buy?
1. How to choose a basic acrylic palette
2. How to choose a basic oil portrait painting palette


The Artist’s Handbook  by Pip Seymour. This book goes into great details on the various properties of each individual pigment
Empty Easel Professional Grade Oil paint vs Student Grade oil paint review

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael De Greef October 5, 2011

Very helpful in making that tough monetary decision, thanks :).


Dave Carpenter October 6, 2011

Excellent Article Will. Everytime I visit your website or You Tube page I learn something new. Thank you


Will Kemp October 6, 2011

Your welcome Dave,


Elaine Culbert January 3, 2012

Excellent clarification and explanation, Will. I learned some of this by trial and, unfortunately, error! Drats!

I wish I had discovered your site long before this!



Will Kemp January 3, 2012

Thanks Elaine,
Glad it helped to explain the difference between the two.


Christiane February 3, 2012

Hi Will,
I started this comment by writing a novella.. so I’m putting the question up front, and if you (or anyone else reading) cares to read on,.. you won’t fall asleep before I get to my question.. LOL…
Being a new painter, I’ve amassed a large collection of student-grade acrylic paints, mainly for the purpose of just allowing myself to be comfortable with using paints and experimenting with color mixing. Will the finished quality of my paintings be affected (in regards to the longevity) because they were done using student grade? Thanks!

Now, read on for the more detailed comment.. haha
Hi Will! I’ve read quite a few of your posts over the course of the afternoon. I started painting in acrylics over a month ago in December (I got the musical genes but was never the best visual artist, until finally I had to quench my curiousity because I had this constant urge to want to paint!!!). I’ve been setting a steady course of studying various articles on the internet, and then blocking out my painting time to practice a particular focus (like, one painting will more so be an experiment on color, another will focus on my technique, etc.). I’ve tried to do this so that I can quickly re-direct any frustration I run into by telling myself “It’s ok.. this was for trying out THIS one thing..”

Sorry for the long leader.. all that to say that I have acquired a collection of student grade paints mostly with the mindset that I just want to paint, and get comfortable first and foremost with the motion of putting paint on surface (mostly canvas for me). It’s helped knowing myself more as I begin this journey learning to paint. I completely understand your thoughts on how the quality of the tools and materials can actually be detrimental to the learning process, so my question is about the finished quality of my paintings done with student grades. What if I end up painting masterpieces.. will my novice works withstand the yellowing of time? ;o)

PS.. Thanks for all your efforts to share your wisdom and experience with us novices! You have quite a style and ease of communicating this craft you love so much!


Will Kemp February 3, 2012

Hi Christiane,
What an introduction! Welcome along and thank you for your kind words.

Will the finished quality of my paintings be affected (in regards to the longevity) because they were done using student grade?

No, is the simple answer. The fillers and binders used in Student grade acrylics are lightfast and won’t deteriorate over time. So if you paint that masterpiece, as I’m sure you will, you can be safe in the knowledge that future generations will not have a hefty conservation bill!



Carl Arguelles August 8, 2012

Hi Will

What do you prefer for amateur painter in choosing paints? Thanks a lot!



Will Kemp August 8, 2012

Hi Carl,
If you’re first starting I would work with what you can afford, but always try and buy an artist quality titanium white. It has such a better opacity and handling quality and will instantly improve your paintings.



Carl Arguelles August 8, 2012

Thanks a lot for the advice!



Rais Mandal January 9, 2013

I am a big fan of u . I am from India.professionally i am an engineer…..But I love painting very very much. Recently i am working in a realistic portrait, but i have few past experience in acrylic painting…..But i want to do the portrait with acrylic….. Can you give an idea about that?
and another think ..which No. of brush is suitable for this job…..


Will Kemp January 11, 2013

Hi Rais,

Blending with oils is alot easier than with acrylics, and I find if you’re first starting portraits having the extra time to blend is crucial to achieve a realistic portrait.

Often, the main issues beginners have with portraits are skin tones and edges – the skin tones are too intense in colour and the edges are too hard.

Working with acrylics can be a bit of adjustment because they dry so quickly.

You can get acrylics called ‘open acrylics’ that stay workable for longer ( there is an article about the pros and cons here) but oils aren’t as scary as they seem!




Miguel August 14, 2013

Hello Will Im from Brazil and having painting lessons a few months ago, and your site is very helpful, Im doing your exercise (that with cherry). My English is bad but your site is Great!! thank you


Will Kemp August 14, 2013

Hi Miguel,

Nice to hear from you, really pleased you’re finding the site helpful and are enjoying the cherry painting tutorial.


Rose December 26, 2013

Hello Will!

May I first say that you are an amazing artist, and a great help to many of us that are beginners or even professionals! I have a question. I’m having trouble deciding which brand of paint to get. You say that Golden is a good brand. Are there any other brands of paint that are just as high quality as Golden? Wow, I have so many questions about painting. I’m afraid if I ask I will be typing all day!

Thank you again!


Will Kemp December 26, 2013

Hi Rose, pleased you’ve been enjoying the website. Most artist quality brands have a similar opacity to the paint, M Graham, Winsor & Newton, Old Holland, Liquitex are all really nice brands. It’s on my list in the new year to write a ‘best artist acrylic’ article, but hope this helps for now.

Enjoy the lessons.




Nick January 11, 2014


I purchased your acrylic color lessons and took to the easel to try the lemons painting. I noticed right away that when you mixed your cad yellow and titanium white you got a much more opaque color than I got. Both of my colors are series 1. Do you think that is the problem? What series were the two colors you used for the vid? Thats if you can remember…LoL!

thanks for the lessons! Great info!


Will Kemp January 12, 2014

Hi Nick,

The difference between Cadmium yellow in artist quality and student quality can be a big jump, this will be the reason why the yellow you are using isn’t as opaque as the one I demonstrate with in the course.

The yellow I demonstrate with is a series 7

Hope this helps,



Dinah Anaya February 16, 2014

Will, when my masterpieces come alive and tangible, I want you to know God used you to help me! Thank you for what you share here on your website.


Will Kemp February 16, 2014

Good one Dinah, pleased you’re finding the site helpful,



Ben February 19, 2014

Thank you Will for your expertise and your down to earth tuition.
Forgive my stupid question but I am a complete neophyte I really don’t know what I am talking about!
Here you go: is there any place for the use of home decorating acrylics (maybe for practicing??). Is it just a question of light / colour fastness or longevity?
Don’t scream!!


Will Kemp February 19, 2014

Hi Ben, I’d say it’s a mix of all 3, The lightness (or opacity of the paint) the colour shift (how much the colour changes when it is wet and then dry) and the longevity of the paint. Household paint doesn’t have the opacity, limited colour shift or archival quality of artist acrylic paint and will be harder to work with than standard paints. You can still of course mix colours and create a painting, but if you intend on working quite small for the difference in initial cost for a few tester pots compared to a paint starter set I’d always advise the artist paints.



Hardy Jones March 30, 2014

What is the difference between Artist’s Loft (Michael’s) academic canvas vs the professional, please? Would you recommend I seek other brands of canvas vs Artist’s Loft?
Thanks, Hardy


Will Kemp March 30, 2014

Hi Hardy, it is usually depended on canvas weight and feel. The way that different canvases are prepared changes the way that the paint behaves onto them, also the type of painting you want to create.

If it’s for a canvas that you might stick to a board, you might go for a thinner one. If you want to stretch it up and put it under tension onto a stretcher bar, you’ll want a thicker one.

I haven’t personally used the Michael’s academic canvas so couldn’t say for sure.

Fredrix make some nice canvases as do Claessens. These canvases are often in rolls that you can stretch onto stretcher bars. You might find this article of interest.




Vickie Brewer April 20, 2014

Hello Will,

I have always been an aspiring artist but never really had the time for it. I am now a restaurant owner and seemingly have less time but still a deep desire to paint. I am fortunately a right-brained, naturally artistic person and have done a lot of what I call folk art painting using acrylics from bottles. I received a large artist’s set for Christmas which includes oil, acrylic, watercolor, pencils, and chalks. I was excited to start painting but quickly realized when beginning one of your tutorials that my paints have no name. After joining your sight and reading this article I also realize that the paints are 48% acrylic resin, 33% extender and only 14% pigment! Since I have the set I will use them for my beginner process and since the tubes are quite small (12ml) will probably use a whole tube for one painting! Had I not read this article I probably, as a novice, would have been more price conscious than quality conscious. I am set to begin your apple painting but I wanted to take the time the thank you for such detailed and insightful articles. Of all the many sights I have searched and read over the past few months this is by far the most valuable learning sight! Bless you for sharing your knowledge!


Will Kemp April 22, 2014

Hi Vickie,

Lovely to hear from you and so pleased you’ve found the article of interest. The varying percentages and opacity of acrylic paints can really vary depending on brand/cost. I would start with an artist quality titanium white and then you can build your palette from there.

Really hope you enjoy the apple tutorial (Part 2 should be live in a couple of days)



Courtney June 22, 2014

Hi Will,

I’m looking to get started painting as a hobby just for my own personal enjoyment, nothing fancy, and am researching what paints to buy for my starter set. I’m looking to balance quality and price. Are there some colors that you recommend investing in the artist quality (i.e. Titanium White) and others that I could get away with buying a student quality or hue version?

Specifically, these are the colors that I’m interested in…
Burnt Umber
Titanium White
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Blue
Cadmium Yellow – light
Cadmium Red
Quinadricrone Crimson

Any advice you could offer would be appreciated and thanks for sharing your knowledge on such an awesome site!



Will Kemp June 23, 2014

Hi Courtney, I would always invest in an artist quality Titanium white, and you’ll notice the biggest difference between the yellows, an artist quality cadmium yellow light will be much more opaque.

Here is a starter palette I often recommend.

Hope it helps


chuck benwitt July 30, 2014

I,m an old timer in the art “industry”. I personally knew lenny bocour, sam golden, bob simmons joe grumbacher bob simmons and many others and have been a painter for many manny years and your advice is good and well written. Unless I’m mistaken I think that the student quality also uses aluminum stearite as a filler. As you stated anything with a hue after it is “student” Perhaps a miner issue is the cap on the tube ..Liquitex seems to be easier replace since it is larger then most, or maybe I’m just lazy. Lenny Bocour once told me he had a night mare that all of his prodcut had dried up in their tubes. Keep up the good work to you


Will Kemp July 30, 2014

Cheers Chuck, you really knew a ‘who’s who’ of the art industry, thanks for your kind words, much appreciated.



Hardy Jones July 31, 2014

Is it true that anything that has “hue” after it is student?


Toni October 26, 2014

First, I want to tell you Bravo for all those info you are sharing. Very helpful. Thank you.
I have one question: I work with acrylics, I paint realism/photorealism and so far, I am working with Amsterdam Standard acrylics (student grade), because where I live (Macedonia), this is the best you can get. Now I want to switch to Artist acrylics and I am thinking between Golden or Windsor. The question is: is there a huge difference in quality or is just the question of taste of the artist?
Thank you.


Will Kemp October 27, 2014

Thanks Toni, pleased you’ve been finding the tutorials helpful, there isn’t a huge difference in quality, the Golden has a slightly thicker body to it and I find the titanium white to be a little more opaque, but I also use Windsor & Newton Artist range throughout my work.



Pratyush Swarup November 2, 2014

Hey Guys,
I am writing an Extended Essay in Visual Art, and one of the topics is Material.
I have tried Looking up for the difference in artist and student material for a while and finally came across your article. It is so Helpful thanks a ton.
I just wanted to know the names of some of the most expensive acrylic or oil paints and some of the cheapest acrylic paints.


Will Kemp November 2, 2014

Hi Pratyush, some of the most expensive pigments are Cadmiums, and the least expensive are earth colours, classically ultramarine blue was very expensive with Lapis Lazuli being ground into a powder to make into paint. It was often reserved for painting the main figure.

Hope this helps,



Katie Moore December 13, 2014

Hello Will,

Thank you for your videos and all your extensive instruction on the basics for the relatively new painter. All those things you have to try to guess on if no one ever takes the time to explain. SO THANKS!! anyway, I love to paint lots of layers, “Chippy paint” style. Mostly with a pallet knife. Think of old chipped wood and rusted metal style. So I was wondering what is the best mediums to get all the texture, also, is it find to use the cheaper paints underneath then just golden on top? Thanks again.


Will Kemp December 13, 2014

Hi Katie, pleased you’ve been finding the lessons helpful, if you use a regular gel its about the same consistency and standard heavy body paints, so if you want a bit stiffer texture then i would go for the heavy gel. You can watch a video demonstration on the differences between gels and mediums here.

Hope this helps,



Tony Owen March 8, 2015

Hello Will. I am 75 and have over a number dabbled with both acrylic and watercolour. I am proficient in neither, i am keen to learn from the basics and thankfully your excellent web site will enable me to do just that. I am looking forward to moving forward with my hobby and am sure that your tuition will help me in my endeavours. Many thanks. Tony.


Will Kemp March 9, 2015

Hi Tony, great to hear from you and really pleased you’ve been finding the site helpful in developing your painting skills. Hope you enjoy the articles and tutorials.


JG March 16, 2015

Hi Will,

Thank you for being such a resource!
I’ve just started out using acrylics, and have run across 2 60ml tubes of artist quality (W&N) paint which seem to have separated in the tube. Is there a remedy for this? Should I even try? Is this considered a defect?
Any advice would be much appreciated.



Will Kemp March 18, 2015

Hi J, yes this can sometimes happen, you can just squeeze out the paint with the medium and mix them well together and it will be fine. It will often just be a small amount of excess liquid and then the rest of the tube will be as normal.



Shelia March 18, 2015

Thank you for explaining the difference.


Nada Diwan July 4, 2015

Hi Will
I use acrylic colors and I have been painting a lot.
I just finished painting a bunch of roses using golden and Liquitex colors. I love my painting but when it dried it looked chalky, dry, dehydrated. I added a little glazing medium on top so it shines and deepen the colors a bit. It looks much better.
Do you think I did the right thing? Or should I use the glazing medium or another medium while I am painting to make them look more moist appearance?… And not have a gloss finish?


Will Kemp July 5, 2015

Hi Nada, usually if I want to bring the lustre up in an acrylic painting I would add the sheen in the varnish stage of the painting. This helps to unify the sheen, saturate the colours and give you a slight sheen. To have a sheen without a gloss finish I would use a satin varnish.

Hope this helps,



Linda July 6, 2015

Thanks for the great info. I’m just starting with acrylic paint and man at art store said it’s okay to use some Golden heavy body and Holbein together in painting, mixing and everything. What’s your opinion? Can brands be mixed and matched and still “play fair” in the sandbox (or on the canvas)?


Will Kemp July 6, 2015

Hi Linda, yes you can intermix brands together, there will be slight variations in the consistencies and handling properties of the paints but they can be mixed together fine.


Heather August 23, 2015

I am a grandmother just starting painting for the first time in my life. Your website has been invaluable to someone for whom painting is a complete mystery. I love the way I can start with only a few good acrylic colours. Baby steps!! While Paul Klee is my idol I am enjoying the feeling that I am actually putting paint on a canvas. Am encouraging my grandchildren to draw and paint while they still love the process.
Thank you for your help.


Will Kemp August 24, 2015

Hi Heather, so pleased the website has been of help to unravelling the world of painting! Good luck with the paintings with your Grandchildren.


Alan September 15, 2015

Hi Will!
I’m having trouble getting glaze to work.
Maybe you can advise.
I haven’t found an acrylic medium that is milky like the ones you are using.
The one I found is pretty transparent and it makes the paint more watery.
Another issue is the paint seems to let super small grains like sand. Could this be the quality of the paint? I’m not sure it’s artist quality or student.
Do you use hair dryer to speed up the dry process?
I’ll try to reduce the amount of medium and see what happens. Thanks


Will Kemp September 15, 2015

Hi Alan, the super small grains will be due to the paint quality, in artist quality paints there shouldn’t be any noticable grains when working in thin layers of colour. The glazing medium I use also alters the consistency, trying to create a thinner layer. You can get mediums that are transparent that use a transparent acrylic binder but you shouldn’t need a hair dryer to speed up the process, it will dry in a matter of minutes, but if you’re working with lots of watery layers then it would speed up the drying.

Hope this helps,



Alan September 16, 2015

Hi Will!
I guess I have found out what the issue is!
Hopefully I read an article from you that talks about how to prime a canvas with gesso. The section “Pre-primed canvas boards” was crucial it says exactly the problem I’m having!
I should say I was really disappointed trying to experiment with glazing as it seemed I was just pushing the watery paint on an waterproof surface. So frustrating.
I have put a coated of gesso and I’ll give more coats.
So you recomend 3 coats? (1st with a bit of water, 2nd thin with no water and 3rd would be thicker?
I paint abstract paintings and plan to make those kind of shadows in the objects and some areas using paynes grey creating nice shadows that fade creating a kind of gradient effect and then build new layers of transparent colors that will create depth and create areas for the colors.
Would you have any suggestions and tips on this?
Thank you so much!


Will Kemp September 17, 2015

Hi Alan,

It all depends on the absorbency of the surface you’re painting onto, the adhesion of acrylics/gesso is more to do with the absorbency of the surface rather than the water ratio mixed with the paint.

If you had a shiny surface of a canvas board and very diluted heavy body paint with water you would have the paint beading rather than staying in one paint film, for this scenario you would include a few drops of ‘flow release medium’ to give the paint a better dispersion or use a thinner medium mixed with the paint, the flow release medium reduces the surface tension, this video shows the difference on a raw canvas surface. when mixed with water and mixed with flow release.

Hope this helps,



Alan September 17, 2015

I’m planning to give 3 layers of gesso and wondering if it would be good to sand the canvas after that to have an even surface.
How about it?
And for shadow I guess l need to load the brush with little paint so the shadow fades faster and does not cover an area bigger than the necessary right? Cleaning the brush or using a new brush would help avoiding the shadow to extend longer creating a nice fade?
Thanks for helping!

Ryan Phillips October 19, 2015

I was wondering if Grumbacher Academy paints were comparable to Winsor Newton Galeria paints? And should I plant to upgrade to Liquitex or Golden at some point or are the Grumbacher and Winsor Newton paints high enough quality to achieve lasting results?


Will Kemp October 19, 2015

Hi Ryan, student grade paints will still have long lasting results, the main difference is the ratio of pigment in the paint and as such the increase in colour shift. I would try and invest in an artist quality titanium white and then try a couple of brnads to see which you prefer.

Hope this helps,



nagasatish January 24, 2016

mr. Will Kemp

hi sir, i am from india. i was visited your are great artist.. it is was soo helpful to me…basically i am an employee…but i like paintings very much…i have experience in drawings. in my school days.i was just drawing with pencils and sketchs only…now i have interest to realistic paintings .like. landscape,nature,water fall …so which brand is best to for me…already i was buyed Winsor & Newton 24 colours brand aryclis paints…and brushes..when i was an paint the sky and clouds…it was not yet.coming .realistically and shades also…not able to paint can you please give some suggestions ..which brand is best..even how to use the brushes.and colour mixing…


Will Kemp January 24, 2016

Hi Nagasatish, pleased you’ve been enjoying the website, Winsor & Newton are a great brand and one of the brands that I use in my professional work so a great brand to work with.


Will Kemp September 21, 2015

Hi Alan, yes you can have a very light sand to even any slight bobbles, classically you would paint shadows thin and then have thicker impasto paint for the lights.



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