What type of paint for mixed media art?

Reader Question: What is the best type of paint to buy to use in mixed media art?

If you want to make mixed media art that includes paint, I would recommend acrylic paints instead of oils, watercolors, gouache, tempera, or any other type of paints I may be forgetting.

Why is acrylic paint the best for mixed media art?

  1. Acrylic paints can stick well to almost any surface, especially if that surface has been gessoed. Compare this with watercolors or oils, which may bead and never fully dry, depending on the type of surface you paint them on.
    Acrylics can be painted onto paper, wood, canvas, cloth, and even things like rubber duckies or old records (LPs), provided they've been properly coated with gesso!
  2. Acrylic paints work well as a base layer. After the acrylics dry, you can add ink, pastel, colored pencil, and even oils over top of the acrylics. You can also safely glue things on top of a surface that has been painted with acrylics.
  3. Acrylic paints can be painted on top of most mediums. You can safely paint acrylics over colored pencils and ink, although you will need to exercise some caution when painting over watercolors, because the acrylics may accidentally re-wet the watercolors and cause them to run or bleed.

    You should never paint acrylics over oils though, because the acrylics will not stick properly to the oils and in time (sometimes in a matter of days!) the acrylics will peel off.
  4. Acrylics can create strong, bold color that can enhance any mixed media art project. If color is an important part of your mixed media art, then acrylics can provide the vibrant colors you may need. Watercolors, on the other hand, would be too watery.
  5. Acrylics dry quickly - and when they are dry, they stay dry. This gives them a great advantage when working in mixed media, because it means you can apply other things on top of the acrylics without having to wait hours or even weeks for them to dry.

These are just some of the main reasons why acrylic paint is your ideal paint choice when creating mixed media art.

If you want to learn more about acrylics, check out my in-depth section on painting with acrylics.

Hope that helps and Happy Art-making!