Product Comparison: Testing Four Popular Acrylic Paint Brands

Is the most expensive paint the best product for acrylic pouring? That’s a question I often hear or wonder myself.

When a novice begins watching YouTube videos about acrylic pouring or joins a Facebook group like Acrylic Pouring, they see all these lovely paintings and want to jump in with both feet–and quickly.

Then they begin compiling a list of all the items they’ll need to purchase and soon realize this is a venture that can eat up your paycheck if you let it. So back to the original question: Is the most expensive paint the best product for acrylic pouring?

Many established artists who are dipping their toes into the world of pouring already have a favorite brand, something tried and true. For the rest of us who have begun our artistic life with acrylic pouring, we buy what fits our budget, because we’re not even sure we can do this.

Then when we learn that we can do this, (and in some cases, WE MUST DO THIS), we begin experimenting with other products. Many we’ve heard about on AcrylicPouring.com or the Facebook group.

This July will be the one year anniversary of my own journey with this fascinating hobby (and hopefully, career). Like many of you, I’m completely addicted.

But I digress. My supply of acrylic paints is from the following companies:

acrylic paints supplies

Apple Barrel Colors
Arteza Acrylic Premium Artist Paint
Artist’s Loft Acrylic Paint
Grumbacher Academy Acrylic Paint

I’ve often just grabbed a color I liked, checked my color wheel, and begun blending my colors—never worrying about mixing brands or considering their translucency or density. Only rarely do I wonder if a very thick (heavy body) paint will work well with another that is very fluid.

Cost was a consideration when I purchased the paints, but not on my mind when I put on my mad scientist hat and began a day of blending this pouring medium with that silicone product—until now!

Now I want to learn more about each paint I use. I want to understand more about it and why it works for me or doesn’t. I want to understand opacity and complementary colors.

Do I truly grasp the concept of composition, or am I flattering myself? Can I paint using only primary colors? Do I need to buy 13 shades of blue? These are some of the questions that swirl in my head as I spend 20 minutes stirring the paint in my cups preparing for a pour.

So, I’ve decided to educate myself. I’ve been reading up on some of these and other topics, and I plan to conduct some scenarios to see for myself what I can learn. For my first experiment, I am comparing the four brands of paint I currently have in my arsenal.

I want to be impartial and completely fair, so my experiment will take place using all the same elements. I will do my level best to mix the paints and additives in the same quantity, and I’ll do the same type of pour for each brand. Most likely a dirty pour.

Supplies I used

So, on to the dissection of the four acrylic paints I tested…in one day. The accompanying video may make it seem as though it was a seamless activity without incident, but I assure you it was not.

Some of my challenges:

        1. This was my first attempt at using my new tripod with my iPhone to record myself. I looked up twice only to see that I had forgotten to hit the red “Record” button. Ugh!
        2. My 4-year-old having to be very, very quiet, so Momma could record herself. I cannot tell you many times I had to start over, and over, and OVER again.
        3. The microwave went off and my husband said something to me when it did.
        4. My phone rang while I was recording, and in my panic to shut off the video, I spilled two cups of paint I had just filled.
        5. I cussed—twice! (Which definitely had something to do with the above frustrations…)

When all was said and finally DONE, it was a fun, but very busy day. Hopefully it will be entertaining and informative to watch.

Here are my reviews:

For each paint brand I tested, I considered the following questions:

        1. Did your first impression change, and if so, why?
        2. Is this product unique?
        3. Would you buy it again?
        4. Is it a good representation of acrylic paint?
        5. Is it a good candidate for acrylic pouring, specifically?
        6. What is the cost of this paint and is it a good value?

Apple Barrel

applebarrel paints

This is one of the early paint brands I used when I started pouring. My first impression is that it’s affordable and comes in a wide variety of colors.

For this experiment, it was the easiest to mix with the Floetrol, because it’s quite a bit thinner than the other paints. (Although this meant that I used more paint in the cup; almost a 1:1 ratio.)

painting1

The paint is easy to use, it flows well, and is a perfect paint for acrylic pouring. As for the actual pour I did for this experiment, the flow out of the cup was smooth, colorful and flowed very well.

Though I must be honest here and state that I do have one gripe about Apple Barrel. For some reason when I use their white paint, it cracks when the painting is dry. (It took me about 15 paintings and many discussions with other pourers on the Acrylic Pouring Facebook group to finally learn that the culprit was the white Apple Barrel paint.)

As long as you stay away from the white, Apple Barrel is a great paint to use.

These are the colors I used: White, Cobalt Hue, Red and Real Yellow.

Questions:

        1. Did your first impression change, and if so, why? No, my first impression did not change.
        2. Is this product unique? No, but it is inexpensive and readily available.
        3. Would you buy it again? Absolutely.
        4. Is it a good representation of acrylic paint? Yes.
        5. Is it a good candidate for acrylic pouring, specifically? Yes.
        6. What is the cost of this paint and is it a good value? I’m in the U.S. and purchase my paint locally and/or through Amazon.com, so your costs might vary. I pay $3.36 for a 8 fl oz (236 ml) bottle of Apple Barrel. EXCEPTIONAL VALUE.

Arteza

arteza

I’ve only been using Arteza for about five weeks. My first impression is that it is thicker and richer than any other paint I’ve used.

The colors are VIBRANT. After I mixed my first cup, I quickly realized that I had squeezed out way too much paint. It was overwhelming, and I had to stop and begin again to ensure I got the right consistency for my pour. In the end, it took only a very tiny smidge of paint to get the desired effect.

painting3

The first thought that came to my mind was VALUE. It was harder to mix with the Floetrol because of its density. I found myself slowing down and really admiring the colors in the cups and witnessing how deep they became with every swirl. I was quite impressed.

The real show began when the paint came out of the cup, onto my canvas. Again, vibrancy was the word of the day. Even though I had just the smallest amount of paint in the cup, it looked like I had a lot in there.

The way the paint spread on the canvas was exciting to watch. This is beautiful paint, and I really love it.

These are the colors I used: Titanium White, Phthalo Blue, Scarlet Red, and Lemon Yellow.

Questions:

        1. Did your first impression change, and why? No, my first impression did not change.
        2. Is it unique? Yes, this is a very unique, vibrantly pigmented paint brand, and I highly recommend it.
        3. Would you buy it again? Absolutely. I really love this paint.
        4. Is it a good representation of acrylic paint? Yes.
        5. Is it a good candidate for acrylic pouring, specifically? Yes.
        6. What is the cost of this paint and is it a good value? I’m in the U.S. and purchase my paint locally and/or through Amazon.com so your costs might vary. I pay $7.99 for a 4.06 fl oz (120 ml) tube of ARTEZA. BEST VALUE of all four products, in my opinion, merely due to the small amount of paint you need to use to achieve the same effect.

Artist’s Loft

Artist’s Loft

Artist’s Loft was the very first paint I ever purchased. My eldest daughter had introduced me to this hobby, and these were some of the paints she used.

My first impression of Artist’s Loft is that it is thick, creamy, and has a rich color. I didn’t need a lot of paint in my cup because it is concentrated enough to go a long way. As it comes out of the tube it is kind of glistening…almost as though it has glitter in it—but it doesn’t.

It took a bit of effort to get it to mix with the Floetrol. I typically will mix for 20 minutes or longer. Sometimes I’ll leave the paint overnight and come back to it in the morning and stir some more.

painting5

This is a paint that you have to really work into the cup with the pouring medium to get the best result—but it’s worth it in the end.

When I actually flipped my cup over the canvas and watched the paint flow, I was pleased with the outcome and happy that the pour was so beautiful. You really can’t go wrong with Artist’s Loft.

These are the colors I used: Titanium White, Phthalo Blue, Deep Red, and Lemon Yellow.

Questions:

        1. Did your first impression change, and why? No, my first impression did not change.
        2. Is it unique?Yes, it is creamier than the others.
        3. Would you buy it again?Absolutely. I love this paint.
        4. Is it a good representation of acrylic paint? Yes.
        5. Is it a good candidate for acrylic pouring, specifically? Yes.
        6. What is the cost of this paint and is it a good value? I’m in the U.S. and purchase my paint locally and/or through Amazon.com so your costs might vary. I pay $3.99 for a 4.06 fl oz (120 ml) tube of Artist’s Loft. Great value.

Grumbacher

Grumbacher

This paint is relatively new to me. I’ve only used it twice before my experiment. My first impression is that it is thick and the colors are deep and highly pigmented.

I mixed a small amount of paint with the Floetrol. This paint has beautiful depth, and I really loved working with it.

painting2

There was one color, however, that I found a bit lacking, and that was the red. It just seemed lighter than I expected. That didn’t appear to hurt the pour though; everything flowed beautifully and the final result was gorgeous. This is a high quality paint brand, and I really like pouring with it.

These are the colors I used: Titanium White, Thalo Blue, Grumbacher Red, and Lemon Yellow.

Questions:

        1. Did your first impression change, and why?No, my first impression did not change.
        2. Is it unique? Yes, the secondary colors that manifest on the canvas are remarkable.
        3. Would you buy it again? Absolutely.
        4. Is it a good representation of acrylic paint? Yes.
        5. Is it a good candidate for acrylic pouring specifically? Yes.
        6. What is the cost of this paint and is it a good value? I’m in the U.S. and purchase my paint locally and/or through Amazon.com, so your costs might vary. I pay $6.99 for a 3 fl oz (90 ml) tube of Grumbacher. I get a little less paint for more money, so while I love the paint, I don’t tend to purchase it as often.

Commonalities between the four paint brands

I would have to say that they are all great paints and all suitable for acrylic pouring. I wouldn’t be upset if I were only able to use one of them…forever.

Differences between the four paint brands

The main difference was the vibrancy of the paints. The second difference was the amount of paint required in a cup to be able to make a pour cup.

What are your acrylic paints of choice? Which company would you like me to try next? Please let me know your thoughts and whether this comparison aided you in your pouring. If you only took away one bit of helpful information from this piece, then I will call it a success!

Happy pouring!

Born in France, Patricia now calls Palm Coast, Florida, home, where she runs Oceans Apart Studios. She’s had the pleasure of raising two daughters and nineteen medical foster children. Now she specializes in watercolor, acrylic pouring, and custom jewelry taken from the run off of her paintings. Her pieces aim to capture the differences that make each woman uniquely beautiful. Check them out on Etsy.

Comments

  1. Looks like the resulting paintings in the text are mismatched with the brands that produced them, based on what was in the video. For example, the resulting painting shown after the Arteza text is actually the Grumbacher painting in the video… The text seems to have them scrambled.

    1. Hey Jodi, thanks for pointing this out! We just fixed this so all the pictures are under the corresponding brand. Appreciate you noting this!

  2. This Answered all my questions and was very helpful. I have used most of these paints as well as other brands. I have one addition – if you are in a hurry to start pouring because you can’t wait to try out an idea, then go with the Apple Blosdom because it won’t take as much time to mix. If you have some patience, try the Arteza.

    1. Mary-excellent comment. I’m thrilled to hear this answered all your questions.

  3. Thanks for doing this. I am curious about the long term resilience of the cheaper paints, ie Apple barrel versus a professional paint like grumbacher. I have been using liquitex pouring medium recently over floetrol because of the alleged archival quality but I see some prominent artists using it even with craft paints. Does it make sense to use a lower cost craft paint with a higher end pouring medium or are you just negating the effects? Thank you!

    1. Rosalie- that is a very good question, one I’ve seen debated countless times on Acrylic groups on Facebook. Afraid I don’t have the answer. Any professionals out there who can give us the 411?

  4. Do you have a preference for student quality vs. artist quality? Student quality paints are cheaper but artist quality has higher concentrations of pigment. I am wondering if that matters since you thin the paint for pouring.

    1. Celeste, I would have to answer honestly and say Apple Barrel for the novice/student/crafter and Grumbacher for the more accomplished artist.

  5. Great experiment….I loved the finished product of the Apple barrel, most likely because those are my colors of choice…I lean to the reds, yellows, oranges.
    I’ve found my favorite is Valspar house paint, mixed w/medium and K-Y… pours beautifully, u can color match, and it flows perfectly….I use Grumbacher for transparents and Sennelier for interference and metallics. Wish I could post pics, but I’m not sure how on this forum. Thanks again for the lovely tutorial, appreciate your “apples, to apples, to apples, to apples” comparison!😃😏

    1. Marie-you sound like someone I could learn a lot from. I would love to see the photos you mentioned. Go to the Facebook group, Acrylic Pouring. I posted this article there. You can reference this note to me and show us YOUR art!

      Thank you for the compliment, I’m very happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

  6. I like Apple Barrel paint, but I found out early on not to use their white. I also like Sax heavy bodied paint from Amazon. Would you like to test it?

    1. Hi Shirley, Glad we both like AppleBarrel. I’m not familiar with Sax, but would love to try it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Curious then – for the richer paints (non-Apple Barrel) – do you use more of the medium or simply less overall paint? What ratio do you mix the Artists Loft (specifically! That’s what I’ve got!)

    THANK YOU! Novice here but HOOKED

    1. Emily, I definitely use more medium with Artist Loft and Arteza. I would say 1-2 or 3 for Artist Loft and 1-6 for Arteza. Great question and welcome to acrylic pouring!

  8. i absolutely agree about color technik acrylics, i ordered them on a flash deal via amazon when they were first listed on the site, and had, as a beginner been using cheaper craft paints only… this paint’s pigment load knocked my socks off, and it is often sold out on amazon, so i’m not the only one who has discovered this gem that no one seems to be talking about. the bottles are small, but go a very long way, definitely one of those paints i hoard for special pours, and i have added liquitex, golden and scored a ton of airbrush paints at a thrift store, that were brand new and beautifully dense in color. And i go back to colortechnik when i want something really to be amazing after testing with the craft paints. i highly recommend it, but don’t buy alot, i seem to miss when it is in stock and by the time i get the word, its already sold out.

  9. Hi Everyone! Some tips to think about. 1-Let everyone in the house know when you are going to paint. They are not t disturb you (lol). 2-Turn your phone off. 3-Have you spouse/kids take care of their own snacks (if they’re old enough). 4-Don’t answer the door. Putting a note on the door explaining that you are painting & will not be answering the door until YOU are finished. 5-Take deep breaths & calm down. This tips are for a perfect world environment. Hope this helps.

  10. I’m just starting out with acrylic pouring. Ive seriously only done 3 paintings thus far so I’m still working on finding my recipe. On hand, I have Arteza, Liquitex Basics, Artists Loft brand paints; and a few of the Liquitex inks. I’ve been using floetrol, and once I used a floetrol/Elmer’s Glue-All mix but recently I purchased a bottle of Liquitex Pouring Medium. Im really excited to try it out along with the Floetrol. I feel like I’ve done enough reading and watched enough videos for a lifetime but I’m having trouble finding a ‘starting point’ recipe. Do you have any suggestions?

  11. Hi! I’m just starting out with acrylic pouring. Ive seriously only done 3 paintings thus far so I’m still working on finding my recipe. On hand, I have Arteza, Liquitex Basics, Artists Loft brand paints; and a few of the Liquitex inks. I’ve been using floetrol, and once I used a floetrol/Elmer’s Glue-All mix but recently I purchased a bottle of Liquitex Pouring Medium. Im really excited to try it out along with the Floetrol. I feel like I’ve done enough reading and watched enough videos for a lifetime but I’m having trouble finding a ‘starting point’ recipe. Do you have any suggestions?

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