I’m taking painting classes, and the teacher is using acrylic craft paint on canvas. He swears this paint lasts and that he’s used them on his paintings for years with no trouble. I’m not convinced. Is this kind of paint all right to use?
A. The answer depends partly on which craft paint you want to use—there are some of fairly high quality. But as a general rule I wouldn’t want to use the average craft paint to make art I might want to exhibit or sell. On the whole, these paints aren’t up to artists’ standards.
One sign of the quality of these paints is to check the label. Does the manufacturer list the pigment(s) in the paint, using both the common name and Color Index Name? The Color Index Name is a universal code used for identifying colors, consisting of the type of dye or pigment used to make the paint, the general hue and an assigned number. For example, zinc white’s Color Index Name is PW4. The letter P means "pigment," W stands for "white," and 4 is the specific number assigned to the pigment.
Next, make sure the pigment’s lightfastness, or resistance to light, is listed and that the vehicle (a medium such as linseed oil or an acrylic dispersion that binds the pigment) is identified. If the above requirements are met, then you may have found a quality craft paint. If there’s just a color name, like Jolly Blue, with no lightfastness or specific vehicle mentioned, then beware of your materials.