Acrylic paint is water-based fast-drying paint widely used by artists since the 1960s. It can be used thickly or thinly depending how much water is added to it

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  • David Hockney, 'A Bigger Splash' 1967
    David Hockney
    A Bigger Splash 1967
    Acrylic on canvas
    support: 2425 x 2439 x 30 mm
    Purchased 1981© David Hockney 2010
  • Damien Hirst, 'Controlled Substances Key Painting (Spot 4a)' 1994
    Damien Hirst
    Controlled Substances Key Painting (Spot 4a) 1994
    Acrylic on canvas
    support: 1220 x 1224 x 40 mm
    frame: 1307 x 1303 x 81 mm
    Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008© Damien Hirst
  • Lubaina Himid, 'Between the Two my Heart is Balanced' 1991
    Lubaina Himid
    Between the Two my Heart is Balanced 1991
    Acrylic on canvas
    support: 1218 x 1524 x 27 mm

    Presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1995© Lubaina Himid

First made in the 1950s acrylic paint uses a synthetic resin to bind pigments. As it can be diluted with water and used thinly or thickly depending on how much water is added to it, it can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media. Acrylic paint is waterproof once it has dried.

Because of its versatility and the fact it dries quickly it has become a popular painting medium and is widely used by artists today.

Artist David Hockney was an early champion of acrylic paint, using it to create some of his best known works of the 1960s.