Friday, June 02, 2006

Acrylic Snobs

I switched from oils to acrylics for health reasons in the 1990'S. I find the versatility of acrylic paint amazing . I still love oils and use them in stick form for the cityscape paintings but the new acrylics....I'm mesmerized and excited with the possibilities. "Sacré Bleu," by Anne Marchand, acrylic and mixed media, 36" x 36"

You are invited to see my new work this weekend at the Zenith Gallery. It's the last weekend of the "Ellipsis" Exhibition. I'll be there from 1-3pm on Saturday, June 3 to answer your questions. I hope to see you there.

Zenith Gallery, 413 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 202.783.2963
Click for Map


"Most of the bad attitude you hear about acrylics comes not from collectors, but from other artists. This is unfortunate because the same narrow views can work against other media--watercolour for one. As an acrylic painter myself, I get around the problem by praising oils. I'm on solid ground here--I worked in oils for thirty years. I tell folks that nothing will ever beat them for texture and workability. Only occasionally do I mention oil-based problems: darkening, yellowing, oxidizing and sinking in, etc. It's not the pigments, it's the medium--traditional thinners, drying oils--particularly linseed oil. Also, because of technical ignorance and creeping amateurism, oils can require early restoration--some after only a few years. Interestingly, decaying oils these days are restored with acrylic. If you're in the mood sometime, you can check out a few of the oil painters whose work has ended up as restorer's hell: Rothko, Ryder, Pollock, etc.

Back in high school I made some early skirmishes in acrylics. We called them co-polymers in those days. Years later I noticed
that they still looked fresh and bright. Working juicy, I had discovered that in acrylic you are okay using lots of medium. As well as being a big strong molecule, as far as we know the molecule stays big, strong and clear--almost indefinitely. Of
course, being a relatively new medium (about 70 years), the jury is still out, but most experts think that the future looks
great for acrylic.

What's not to love about acrylic? Let me count the ways. Apart from apparent permanence and strength, there's flexibility,
controllable opacity, colour fastness, resistance to pollutants, opportunity for variety of creative methodology,
adaptability to mixed media, as well as speedy drying and cleanup. Used knowledgably, there's less toxicity with acrylic.
More than anything, glazing and scumbling in acrylic are a piece of cake."

PS: "Today, very little serious oil or fresco restoration is undertaken in anything other than acrylics." (Ian Hebblewhite--Artists' Materials)

Esoterica: I switched from oils to acrylics in 1974. I did it for health reasons. My price structure stayed the same. Oils/acrylics--same prices, same increases. Resistance to the medium has been infrequent and generally from the ignorant. Collectors, I've found, have to like what they see, and by and large they trust the artists to know what they're doing. Medium is not such an issue. I still love oils. I delight in cruising the surfaces of the masterful ones. But I tell people: "In acrylic, what you lose on the corners, you make up for on the straights."

Robert Genn,

Anne Marchand,


  1. Would have liked to stop by today.

  2. went today instead on the way to get tickets to the closing night of the free performances of Pericles. You had a few pieces which I found particularly stunning. So, thank you!

    And keep up the good work with the blog!