Many oil painters experimenting with the new medium criticized it for having unstable pigments and
defying subtle brushwork since it dried very rapidly. The confirmed watercolours who tried it usually railled at this same defect, and hated its tendency to darken rather than lighten upon drying. Many of these problems have been overcome in the past five decades since acrylics were introduced but the reputations of youth are a long time sloughing away!
The vibrant colours allowed by a plastic medium were especially suitable to the need of abstract expressionists who put them to good use in New York City. The Mexican muralists also found them attractive because of their non-toxic nature, resistance to sunlight and intensities of colour matching their country. In point of fact, the traditional media of oil and watercolour are better suited to the muted landscapes of Europe than those of North and South America. Any careful observer our our skies note that they can be naturally intense and best represented by this modern medium.
Interestingly, acrylics were imported from America into England and it was the Brits who first chafed at the fact that acrylics were seen as country cousins of oils and watercolours. "The National Acrylic Painters' Association evolved from the concept that acrylic paint is still largely unrecognized in its own right. Oil and watercolor paints started from the same premise, with the origin and the history of each giving them distinct characteristics and goals, as well as their own organizations and societies."
Ken Hodgson founded that group in 1985. Adrian Henri, an acclaimed international painter and poet, served as president from 1986 until 1991 and was succeeded by the present President, painter, writer and broadcaster, Alwyn Crawshaw. That particular socity spawned the International Acrylic Painters' Association, which is based in the United States. At that, there have not been many gains in the direction of anything resembling the "Royal Societies" organized on behalf of watercolourists and oil painters in times, which now seems far from the present realities of the art world.
Acrylic manufactures must have a growing market if one believes their propaganda. Winsor& Newton says that its use has "steadily increased" and that they now produce colours "specifically designed for acrylic painting." We suspect that acrylics remain under utilized EBay Canada is currently offering a lot of paintings for auction and these. Their statistics show that the medium is a little in advance of the watercolour but the oil painting medium is still king by a ratio of about 10:1. That was about the ratio for the painters in Domtar Agenda Show in Montreal and Toronto back in 1987. Twenty years ago, Rod had very little company in that horde of oil affectionados.
Art Educator David Pyle has this to say: "Early acrylics weren't without their problems. There were justifiable concerns with stabiliyty and color change. But, thanks to some very dedicated and skilled chemists in labs across the world, those issues have been all but eliminated. Modern acrylics offer great stability and clarity, and can be used with confidence that they're going to be around for the long haul."