A good example of how to explain this is a situation where I went to an art exhibition many years ago, in a fancy gallery. The artist exhibiting had high prices on their work (upwards of $4000.00 per piece), and the works were in acrylic on canvas, around 24 x 40 inches, on average.
I asked the curator what sort of paint the artist had used, and if it was of the best quality. I considered this a fair question, considering the price range. More on this a little later…..
You see, if you are planning to sell your paintings, using student paints can work against you in the long run. Firstly, the paint is usually streaky and lacks the velvety opacity – (not transparent when applied)….one can achieve using fine art quality acrylic and oils. This means that when you apply the paint to the canvas surface it is in fact more work to get any depth in your colour planes. You may find you have to re-apply the paint several times, and even then the effects won’t be professional.
Student grade paint will also lack longevity. It can fade and lose colour quickly, due to the use of cheaper pigments, and cracks easily with the use of cheap filler. Professional artist quality paint uses proper pigment to create deep and vibrant colour that lasts.
This is of course not meant to deter those starting out in the realm of painting, to give up because they don’t want to start with the best paint money can buy. Student quality paint certainly has a purpose. It is wonderful for beginners, children, students and even professional artists who want to work on roughs before getting started on the real thing.
…anyway, back to the gallery story….When the curator replied to me that of course the artist used the best quality acrylic paint, I did wonder. The works were patchy and transparent, revealing every brushstroke. This was due to the lack of viscosity in the paint.
(I already knew that this artist used cheap student grade paints because I had been selling them their paint all those years ago, and they were not interested in using the premium quality paint. They also used the cheapest brushes….but we’ll leave that to be discussed in another post just on brushes!)
Be aware that if you aim to sell your work, it is better to be honest about the quality of paint used. I know if I were buying a piece of art I loved, I wouldn’t want to discover after a few years, or less, that it was fading and cracking.