I was fortunate enough to receive a 122 page book on Liquitex® acrylics and mediums. Some of this information is new to me and even though you may know all about acrylics and mediums it is good to review. So I will be sharing parts of this book every Sunday. First a bit of history. I have taken this information directly from the Liquitex® Acrylic Book since they have prepared it perfectly. Hope you enjoy.
A Brief History
In the long history of art materials, acrylics are fairly new. Oil colors date back to the fifteenth century. Tempera and encaustic have pedigrees that are counted the the thousands of year. Watercolor was the result of prehistoric visionaries developed the basic model for paint that still serves today: a combination of pigment ( earth colorant) vehicle (for the earliest artists, saliva), and binder (prehistoric animal fat).
Acrylics were first developed as a solvent-based artists' color in the early part of the twentieth century. The first water-borne acrylic company in Cincinnati, Ohio call Permanent Pigments that had been milling oil colors since 1933 (and run by a man named Henry Levison, who lived, drank, slept and breathed artist's colors) launched the new product. This new artists' color was formulated with and acrylic polymer resin that was emulsified with water. The new color could go from thick to thin and everywhere in between; it would adhere to just about anything--from canvas to paper to metal to wood to plastic-- and it dried quickly for easy re-working, layering and masking. Most important, it could be thinned and cleaned up with water. Levison tried to come up with a name that would capture the essence of the medium and that fact that it could go from fluid liquidity to heavy texture. He called his new product "liquid texture," or Liquitex®. Levison was able to encourage a number of artists to try the product, but acceptance was slow. Acrylics didn't gain full acceptance in the artist community until Levison figured out a principle that is still in place today: great information is as important as great materials. Based upon that principle, Levison launched a lecture demonstration program in which artists offered workshops and lectures on the use of acrylics to college students and professors. Within a few year, acrylics were being used consistently in colleges and universities across the country. It wasn't long before Liquitex® was being used by some of the most important artists of the late 20th century: David Hockney, Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Warhol and others.
Because of the durability and versatility, Liquitex® also became the medium of choice for large-scale public murals by artists such as Garo Antreasian and Thomas Hart Benton. In fact, it is fair to say that without Liqutex® and the working properties of water-based acrylics, 20th century art would have been completely different. By the 1980's acrylics had become the most popular and widely used of all painting mediums, surpassing both watercolors and oils by a large margin.
The infinite variety of applications of acrylics coupled with the spirit of innovation first shown by Liquitex® Without question there is no more versatile color system in the world. While both oils and watercolor require careful selection of surfaces and techniques to ensure success and stability, acrylics can be used with some simple guidelines on virtually anything, to achieve virtually any visual sculptural result. They can be used on canvas, on paper, on fabric, on leather, on metal, and on wood. Acrylics can be brushed, troweled, sprayed, poured, splattered, scraped or carved. In short, with a little care and the right additive or medium, acrylics can do just about anything you can imagine.
Acrylics offer such a great versatility because they do three great things.
1 THEY STICK, to almost anything.
2 THEY FLEX. As they dry acrylics tend to remain far more flexible on a wider array of surfaces.
3 THEY ADJUST. Through the wonders of modern chemistry, the working properties of acrylics can be adjusted, altered, and managed in an infinite variety of ways.
I hope this brief history has you curious and will come back next week.
Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
Honor and integrity in art, in life.