Acrylic on Canvas

As early as 1934, the first usable acrylic resin dispersion was developed by German chemical company BASF, which was patented by Rohm and Haas. The synthetic paint was first used in the 1940s, combining some of the properties of oil and watercolor.[2] Between 1946 and 1949, Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden invented a solution acrylic paint under the brand Magna paint. These were mineral spirit-based paints.[3] Acrylics were made commercially available in the 1950s.

Following that development, Golden came up with a waterborne acrylic paint called “Aquatec”.[4] Otto Röhm invented acrylic resin, which was quickly transformed into acrylic paint. In 1953, the year that Rohm and Haas developed the first acrylic emulsions, Jose L. Gutierrez produced Politec Acrylic Artists’ Colors in Mexico, and Henry Levinson of Cincinnati-based Permanent Pigments Co. produced Liquitex colors. These two product lines were the very first acrylic emulsion artists’ paints.[5]

Water-based acrylic paints were subsequently sold as latex house paints, as latex is the technical term for a suspension of polymer microparticles in water. Interior latex house paints tend to be a combination of binder (sometimes acrylic, vinyl, pva, and others), filler, pigment, and water. Exterior latex house paints may also be a co-polymer blend, but the best exterior water-based paints are 100% acrylic, due to elasticity and other factors. Vinyl, however, costs half of what 100% acrylic resins cost, and PVA (polyvinyl acetate) is even cheaper, so paint companies make many different combinations of them to match the market.[6]

Soon after the water-based acrylic binders were introduced as house paints, artists and companies alike began to explore the potential of the new binders. Water-soluble artists’ acrylic paints were sold commercially by Liquitex beginning in the 1950s, with modern high-viscosity paints becoming available in the early ’60s. In 1963, Rowney (part of Daler-Rowney since 1983) was the first manufacturer to introduce artist’s acrylic paints in Europe, under the brand name “Cryla”.[1]

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