Hello and welcome to Art A&A I’m Lezley Davidson with Peeling Today it is number 16 and we are going to field another art question. This is from Alice in Markham. She’s just starting in acrylics and wants to know:

Paints and brushes“Do I need to buy artists quality? Is that necessary?”

..and no, it’s not, but let me explain to you a little bit about the difference between artist and student quality paints. It’s a constant question that comes up in my work, all the time.

Pigment Load

Essentially the biggest difference is the amount of pigment (pigment load) that’s in the paint. Pigment is the color and there’s a binder so you got colour plus binder and that’s essentially what all paints are, just the binders are different.

Acrylic is a polymer binder, oil is a linseed binder, watercolour has a gum arabic and sugar binder – it’s actually corn syrup or honey, which is weird but anyway… That’s essentially the makeup composition of all paints – pigment and binder. The difference in artist quality versus student quality is how much pigment and the grade of pigment that’s included in it versus how much of and binder and filler is put in.


Fillers can be matting agents, more binder or other random stuff that I don’t know about… There’s some paints that I’ve used where I’m sure there was chalk put in it because watercolours –  a good watercolour, will have, will be really really transparent where the pigment has been ground really fine and that’s for all artist quality paints; the pigments will be ground up really well.

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