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Which Paint Brand?


Today, I had to take Nick to the local craft store to get some things for his girlfriend, and while there, I picked up four brands of acrylics paint, all raw umber.

  • Grumbacher Academy
  • Golden
  • Winsor & Newton Finity
  • Liquitex Heavy Body
I had no expectations going into this. I currently own Dick Blick, and the paint has been adequate, but the tube of Dick Blick's raw umber that I have looks like curdled milk when it comes out of the tube. Needing a replacement, I saw this as a great opportunity to find a brand for my future purchases.

My criteria for determining a good paint is that it should be consistent, smooth, but heavy enough that it doesn't lose its color when a brush cuts into it, once applied. In other words, if I paint a stroke, I expect the paint to stay where I put it. And how well can I paint a thin line with it? Let's find out!

Here are my results, from worst to best:

Worst: The Liquitex had very creamy quality to it, but when painting, as you can see, subsequent brush strokes would cut into my previous brush strokes. Once I paint something, I expect it to stay put. Not true with Liquitex. The lines also show the weakness of the paint.

Next worst, surprisingly (given all their hype in the art community), was Winsor & Newton.

I found that I constantly had to paint over an area to make it keep its color. The brush slices right through the applied paint. You can see this in the example swatches above, especially in the lines... that's just awful.

Both of these paints, the Liquitex and the Winsor & Newton Finity, had a lighter brown appearance than the other two paints, and they fared poorly by comparison. This suggests that maybe they put too much water in the paint that it won't hold up to actual, you know, painting.

Next, Grumbacher Academy, which was the least expensive of the tubes that I bought and is supposedly a student quality of paint, and yet, it was nearly as good as the best of the brands that I've now tried. Here's the Grumbacher swatch:

Smooth, even color. When painting on the edges, it wouldn't sink into the texture of the paper, but when painting over a previous painted area, the acrylic didn't budge. A fine paint, to be sure. Grumbacher is a brand that I've used for watercolors and have always enjoyed their paints, so I was pleased by the results of this test. And the lines are strong.

And the winner, even by those in my house who didn't know my criteria:


Not only did what I paint stay just as it was when I first laid it down, but the edges sunk into the paper's texture for an even look. Further, it even had the best lines.

I could go thin with the line and the paint still held up well.

So, I've tried five brands of acrylics, and the clear winner was Golden, which I highly recommend. And if you're on a budget, Grumbacher Academy is a great paint for the price.


Read the whole story of "Drawing and Painting"
by Brett Rogers, 12/24/2005 4:45:45 PM


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