Using Heavy Body Acrylics – The Wonderful Benefits

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

I love using heavy body acrylics in my artwork. I love the viscosity, buttery-ness and oil-like consistency that this acrylic paint hones. This is coming from somebody who has been using soft body/student grade acrylic paints for 7 years, well into their professional career in fine art.

Don’t get me wrong, soft body paints have their place. In my previous collection of landscape work, soft body paints worked a treat, however as I became more experienced and experimental, my needs began to change, and so did my paint needs. I’ve never used oil paint, but I imagine that the consistency of these paints mirror that of oil. Heavy Body acrylics were simply a huge revelation in my eyes!

Besides the fact that heavy body paints are specially designed for more professional acrylic painters, What I find great about these heavy bodied paints is their ability to be incorporated into mediums with barely any colour shift, regardless of the paint make. This is due to the highly concentrated pigment load of these paints. Thin it down a little with an acrylic medium, and you can achieve the characteristics of a beautiful soft body paint. Incorporate into an acrylic heavy structure gel, and you get the alternative to thick wax emulsified oil paint – which many would use for impasto work. The point here is, the jump from soft body to heavy body, is also a jump from amateur to professional.

Heavy Body acrylics really are the basics for most professional acrylic painters. Their versatility and oil paint-like mimicry allow artists to experiment with little fuss. By fuss, I mean the tedium of cleaning after an oil painting session, and not to mention how inexpensive heavy body acrylics are in comparison to oil. Once again, soft body paints do have their place, and artists will find that it works perfect with the painting they do. The opacity of heavy body acrylics is one thing I love the most. You can achieve beautiful coverage in your work with a single brush stroke! Magic!

I talk about my impasto work a lot of this blog, and always allude to the wonders of heavy body paint in painting this classic way. A little goes quite far! Soft body are simply useless in this case. Trust me, I’ve tried! The end texture is always too soft for me.

What acrylics I like to use?

Daler Rowney’s Cryla range and Liquitex Heavy Body is what I’m used to painting with. I find little variation in texture and pigment with these paints. Of course, there are other heavy body acrylics out there too! The paint extrudes from the tube like a thick toothpaste in most varieties. If I was to be nit-picky, I’d say that the Cryla range is slightly thicker than Liquitex, and the pigments are slighter stronger in the Liquitex range. However, not enough to really make a difference. See what heavy body acrylics work for you! But I would definitely recommend these paints for those painting impasto with acrylic.

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