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My Wild On Again-Off Again Romance with Acrylic Paint

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Sometimes I love you, Sometimes I want kick my foot through the canvas and scream at the top of my lungs.

When I was a kid, I didn't want to be an artist. I wanted to be a draw-er. And a vet. But then I found out that being a vet is actually a very difficult career path. So I settled on draw-er. I think it's interesting that even at seven years old I knew I only liked to draw. And this is still true today. Out of every artistic medium- painting, printmaking, sculpting, sewing, collaging... drawing remains my favorite by far. I love the feeling of precision and being able to pick it up anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, however, being a professional draw-er is not a thing. Most art school don't offer a drawing major (why??) and people like me are stuck choosing between painting, printmaking, or illustration. This was the case for all six schools I was accepted to. Since there was no real focus on drawing, I had to settle on another choice. At the time, I knew that I didn't want to be stuck creating design work or drawing cartoons, so I passed on illustration. (I now know illustration is so much more than that). And for whatever reason, I could not STAND the feeling of acrylic paint on canvas. It felt rough and imperfect and paintbrushes sat clumsily in my hand. I had no experience using oils or taking a serious painting course, so I ended up settling on printmaking. I have very mixed feelings on what I chose to major in, but more on that in a later post.

Now, 99% of the work I create is acrylic based. It took a while for me to get comfortable with the quick-drying, plastic-y medium. Honestly, I never intended to become a painter, but I did so out of necessity. Once the pandemic hit, there was no hope trying to join a print shop. And knowing how messy I am, there was a slim chance that anyone would accept me anyway. So, in my mom's studio and in my backyard, I started experimenting on canvas with ancient, crusty Liquitex paint. The first attempts were ROUGH. They're not listed in my portfolio because I'm embarrassed by them, but I'll include an example here:

(YIKES!! And this was 30"x40"!)

The crazy thing is that I was selling paintings back in 2019, and barely knew how to hold a paint brush! I even had gallery representation, which is just insane to me. Actually... I think the above painting may have been in the gallery's collection at one point. Now it's in my childhood bedroom collecting dust. Oops.

I really hated it at first. But I also really hated storing, matting, framing, and wiring works on paper. I did like the convenience of canvas, even if I despised the rough texture. The feeling of a paint brush running dry on bare, unprimed canvas made my skin crawl. It's weird thinking that this used to bug me so much, now it doesn't bother me at all. But I still hate how different colors dry at different speeds, or dry darker, or leave tiny chunks of plastic paint throughout the work. But I'm guessing that doesn't happen to professional and patient painters (now say that three times fast). I'm still trying to figure out how to translate the freeness of my drawing practice onto canvas. I do love panel, but I do NOT love the price or weight of it. Oof.

Long story short, I don't really like acrylic paint. But it's the cheapest, easiest, most accessible option for me at this moment. I'm too impatient for watercolor, my apartment is too small to use oil, and gouache is... weird. I do feel bad that I don't create prints anymore (sorry MassArt printmaking dept) but I'm figuring it out as I go. For now, the most important thing is to continue creating with whatever materials I can. I feel like a shark, if I stop making art, I'll die.

(I asked AI to make me an image of a shark holding a paintbrush. This was the best it could do.)

Currently watching: The Devil is a Part-Timer

Currently listening to: Rapp Snitch Knishes- MF DOOM

Currently obsessed with: Shower beers


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