How to Decide What Paint to Use

Having decided you’d like to learn to paint, you obviously need to select what kind of paint you’re going to use. The most commonly used paints are acrylics, oils, watercolors, and pastels. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Which you select will depend on your personality and, to some extent, where you’re going to paint. This article will help you decide, as will the Painting Personality Quiz.

Besides the characteristics of the different types of paint, there are also a few other considerations:

  • Cost: Top-quality paint and canvas is expensive but dirt-cheap paint won’t give you good results when mixing colors. You need to find a balance between paint that’s of a quality to give good colors but cheap enough that you don’t worry too much about using it up (or wasting it).
  • Poison hazards: If you’ve small children, you may not want to have the solvents used in oil painting lying around. Some people are also allergic to the solvents, in which case you might investigate low-odor versions or are water-based oil paints. Soft pastels can product a lot of dust; be careful to minimize the amount you inhale. For example, don’t blow on your work to remove loose pastel. Poisonous pigments, such as cadmium red, are usually available as a non-toxic hue. Not that any paint is made to be eaten! (See Also: Safety Tips for Using Art Materials).
  • Personally I think acrylics are the best choice for beginners as they’re easy to learn to use, dilute and clean up with water, and there are brands available that are a good balance between quality and price.

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