To Paint or NOT to Paint?: The SHOPPING EXPERIENCE, Part 1

“I have always been an Artist. I’ve been an Artist ever since I first picked up a pencil as a child. For me, art naturally went hand-in-hand with writing (which is also an art). There was NO question about how wrapped up in love I was with getting lost in my Imagination for hours on end, especially through drawing and writing. That remains true to this day.” ❤

That is the opening paragraph of my blog entry where I introduced myself to you all and told you my two-part tale of how I came to be where I am as an Artist, which you can read right here. The reason why I chose that sentence is because….I’d like to add something to it, which brings me to TODAY’S entry:

“I have always been an Artist. I’ve been an Artist ever since I first picked up a pencil as a child. For me, art naturally went hand-in-hand with writing (which is also an art). There was NO question about how wrapped up in love I was with getting lost in my Imagination for hours on end, especially through drawing and writing. That remains true to this day–EXCEPT when it comes to SHOPPING for ART SUPPLIES!” 

As you may or may not already know, shopping in general can quite a hassle–ESPECIALLY if you’re attempting your little shopping adventure on your own and you don’t even exactly know what you’re doing! Let me just tell you, this holds ABSOLUTELY TRUE FOR ME! And I mean this as far as shopping for ANYTHING in general, but for the sake of this entry, I mean in terms of BUYING ART SUPPLIES! So here, I’m going to give you a run-down for PAINT! I use acrylic paints, so here I’ll tell you how I learned how to go about picking out paint!

So, like I already told you before, I went to the Art Institute, went through ALL SEVEN LEVELS of Hell in my Color Theory class, BUT I was re-inspired to paint again! So, even though I had some paint to spare from the art supply kit the school gave me, I STILL had to go out and buy my OWN paints to ensure that the painting fun would never end!

Little did I know though, in all my excitement to paint to my Heart’s Desire, ALL art supplies  are NOT created equal.

So for me, it was over and over and OVER again, a case of, “Dammit, how come THIS paint is thicker than THAT paint?” “How come THAT paint dries faster than THIS paint?” “Wait…wait…what color is THIS?” “WHAT THE FXCQ?? How come no matter HOW MANY layers I paint onto this canvas, it’s STILL so see-through?!” “WHY WON’T IT BLEND?!” and on and on I went.

Well, after a lot of trial and error (still current, by the way), chasing down and interrogating as many art store employees as humanly possible, plus my own research and learning, I’m ready to share what I’ve found out plus my insight in this new mini-series of blog posts called “To PAINT or NOT to Paint?: The SHOPPING EXPERIENCE” so that hopefully to anyone out there reading this who happens to be Artist or art-lover won’t have as much of a hard time as I did when it comes to purchasing art supplies.

Today, we cover PAINT and common terms used in identifying and categorizing different types of paint. I use acrylic paint, so when I say “different types of paint,” I mean the varieties of ACRYLIC paint I’ve come across. ❤

Have you ever picked up a tube, jar, or bottle of paint and noticed that not only do the NAMES of these colors go FAR BEYOND any kind of name Crayola could ever think of for their extensive colors of crayons–from something simple like “ULTRAMARINE BLUE” all the way to something WILD and UNHEARD OF like “DIOXAZINE PURPLE”– but you ALSO notice these little signs and symbols on the bottle of paint and you have NO IDEA what they mean?! Let me just say…I FEEL your pain. Or more accurately I should say, “Wow, YOU feel MY pain!”

Even though the appearance of some of these symbols may vary from brand to brand of paint, the concept is still the same so there should be no confusion. I created this chart below to illustrate that:


Now that you’ve looked at the chart, it’s time to BREAK it DOWNNE! 😉

(Wait….I JUST realized I spelled “opaque” WRONG, and have been spelling it wrong all this time. Oh WELL! 😀 )

  • Viscosity simply tells you the texture of the paint. Is this paint thick and have a creamy texture or is this paint thin and more like liquid? Once you start to play around with paints, you’ll find which texture you favor the most depending on your style or whatever you plan to paint. 🙂
  • Lightfastness is rated like the mini-key you see above: I, II, or III. As you may or may not know, over time paint may start to fade, lose vibrancy or undergo any other kind of changes in relation to a work of art being exposed to any kind of light. This is very important to pay attention to when you buy your paints because I’m sure you, as an Artist, would be LIVID to find out that all your beloved works of art are beginning to fade, etc. because you bought and used paint with low lightfastness. A lightfastness of I is the HIGHEST level of resistance to change in light that you can possibly get in a paint; II is the second highest level; and III is, “Why would ANYONE EVER paint with this ish in the FIRST PLACE?” So, avoid III paints at ALL COSTS. Your paintings will fade faster than a balding man’s hairline. Just DON’T DO IT. 😀 So typically, because I and II are so great, most times they’re lumped together and the paint bottle may say something like, ” This pigment is equivalent to ASTM I & II.” So, what does ASTM mean? ASTM is the abbreviation for “American Society for Testing and Materials.” Like I said, different brands of paint use different symbols to indicate lightfastness, but the meaning of the symbols is still the same, whether a brand uses I, II, & III; +, ++, & +++, or even *, **, & ***. It’s still the same. 😉
  • Transparency/Opacity is pretty self-explanatory, but those SYMBOLS are NOT! I actually kind of got into it with a staff member at an art supply store  about the difference between the white box with the line in it, and the half-black, half-white box. I was in that store one day looking at paints. At this time, I learned about ALL the Transparency/Opacity symbols above EXCEPT the white box with the line in it because I had never seen it before. Well, as I browsed the paints, I had noticed this: one ONE tube of paint there had a white box with a line going through it, and on ANOTHER tube of paint I was looking at there was a half-black, half-white box. So, after three minutes of standing there annoyed and confused from trying to figure the symbols out, I called on an employee there and asked for the difference between the two. I said, “Well, if the WHITE box means the paint is transparent (or see-through), the BLACK box means the paint is opaque (or NOT see-through; dense) and the HALF-BLACK, HALF-WHITE box means it’s in between…then why is there a WHITE box with a line in it?” Long story short, I was told that both the half-black, half-white box and the white box with the line in it means the SAME THING. (-_-) If you know ME, you already KNOW I wasn’t satisfied with THAT B.S. answer. Yeah, I went back-and-forth with the people in the store and after it was ALL said and done, after my trip to the store was over….I took it upon myself to do research and I learned that there IS a difference between the two symbols, as indicated in my illustration above, and I come to share this with you so that YOU don’t have to waste your Life Force Energy snapping out at art store employees for giving you B.S. answers. 😉 So….what IS the difference between the two? Well, Semi-Transparent means that the paint is slightly more opaque than just the straight-up transparent paints; and Semi-Opaque means that the paint is slightly more transparent than just the straight-up opaque paints. BOOM! There IS a difference! Y’all don’t understand….I was SO HYPE once I found out. Because…I’m such a nit-picky, detail-oriented person (listen, I’m a Leo but I have a LOT of VIRGO in my chart) so…yeah. 🙂

And THAT, my friends, is the end of the FIRST installment in my new mini-series! I hope this helps anyone out there who’s thinking about getting into painting, in particular, ACRYLIC painting! Telling you all these things helps me to remember and reinforce what I’m still learning, so it’s a WIN-WIN situation! ❤

In my next entry, we’ll get down to the NITTY-GRITTY and talk about BRANDS of paint! Stay tuned! 😉


~SOULar Lioness XOXO



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