A Beginner’s Guide to Acrylic Paint Mediums and Additives

Acrylic Paint Additives and MediumsWhether you’re a collage artist or an acrylic painter, these adhesives and mediums can take your paint to the next level. Learn what each medium or additive can be used for and start creating beautiful works of art!

First things first….

Mediums vs. Additives

Mediums and additives are added to acrylic paints to achieve a specific effect and purpose. Mediums can be added in any amount to your acrylic paint without harming the adhesion of the paints. Additives, however, don’t contain acrylic binders like mediums, so they will have directions on the label for what proportions you should add to your paint. Additives can weaken the color and adhesion of the paint, so it is important to not overuse them.

On to the list of Mediums and Additives!

Gel Mediums

Gel Medium - Acrylic Painting MediumGel medium is the most versatile of the acrylic paint mediums. It is a paste-like gel that thickens paint and adds extra adhesion to the work. Mix with paint so that brushstrokes are accentuated (great for impasto techniques) or use as a glue for your mixed-media collages. Gel medium can also increase the transparency of paint and can be used as a glazing medium substitute. Another favorite use of gel medium is as a tinted glaze. Add a small amount of paint to a large amount of gel medium to create a layer in your artwork that can give everything a subtle tint of color, helping to create a cohesive feel to the work.

Gel medium can also be used to seal the different layers of your painting. A layer of gel medium in between layers will allow you to fix mistakes along the way while painting. When a mistake is made, just wipe away the acrylic paint with a damp cloth and the gel medium will protect the previous layers from being wiped away. Be sure to let each layer of gel medium dry completely before beginning the next layer.

Gel medium is available in both gloss and matte finishes.  Gloss medium will increase the sheen of acrylic paint, while matte medium will create a more subtle, non-reflective finish and will combat the glossy finish of most acrylic paints. Mixing the two finishes together can create interesting combinations that range from matte to semi-gloss to glossy.

Water (Additive)

You’re probably already familiar with watering down acrylic paints, but here are a few tips for beginners:

  • Water is an additive, so use it sparingly to avoid breaking down the adhesion of the paint.
  • A spray bottle of water can be used to mist your canvas or collage to keep your paint wet and workable for longer periods of time.
  • Water breaks down the surface tension of acrylic paints, making them runnier, but also allowing different colors to mix more.

Acrylic Glaze Medium

Acrylic Glaze Medium can be used as an alternative to water because it doesn’t break down the adhesion of the paints. This medium will keep your paint from becoming too watery as you thin it. Acrylic Glaze Medium makes paint more translucent, allowing the painting’s layers to show through and creating a more complex composition.

Some glazing mediums can also extend the drying time for your paints, allowing you to better achieve wet-on-wet techniques in acrylic painting.

Acrylic Retarder (Additive)

If you love wet-on-wet techniques in acrylic painting (which I do!), then you’ll want to invest in an Acrylic Retarder to keep your acrylic paints workable for longer periods of time. This medium extends the dry time, allowing you to work slower, blend paints on the canvas more, and keeps paints from drying out on your palette.

Texture Paste

Texture Paste - Acrylic Paint Mediums and AdditivesWhile not really a medium or an additive, texture paste can create amazing effects in your acrylic painting. Mix with paint to create a paste that can create vivid and colorful 3-D effects on the canvas, or apply the paste first, then paint over it for extra texture on the canvas. Apply through stencils or with a palette knife to create raised designs in your painting. You can also add craft sand to acrylic paint to create a texture paste in any color!

Acrylic Gesso

 

White Gesso - Acrylic Paint Additives and MediumsAcrylic gesso is the perfect starting place for any acrylic painting. It will give the surface “tooth,” which is just a fancy way of saying that it gives the paint something to stick to. Gesso dries with an almost chalky finish, allowing the next layer of paint to grab on better. Use it as a primer for the surface or canvas that you are working with. You can also mix it with your paints to create paints with better adhesion, although white gesso will also change the color of these paint mixtures.

Clear Gesso - Acrylic Painting Additives and MediumsAcrylic gesso is available in a variety of finishes, but most commonly available with a white finish. Clear gesso is a great option if you want the texture of the original surface to show through your painting, and black gesso can make your colors pop off the page! Experiment with different colors and finishes of gesso to find the one that perfectly complements your style.

Black Gesso - Acrylic Painting Additives and Mediums

Tips:

  • Many of the properties of these mediums and additives overlap. Experiment with the different finishes that these mediums and additives provide to determine which is the best fit for your style of painting.
  • Don’t use oil-based mediums with acrylic paints because they will not mix properly and are not compatible.

Shop All Adhesives, Primers, and Mediums

Related Posts:


Posted: Friday, November 10th, 2017 @ 11:23 am
Categories: Mixed-Media Art.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .
Subscribe to the comments feed if you like. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Sarah Mixed-Media Art ,,,,,,,,,,

Acrylic Paint Additives and MediumsWhether you’re a collage artist or an acrylic painter, these adhesives and mediums can take your paint to the next level. Learn what each medium or additive can be used for and start creating beautiful works of art!

First things first….

Mediums vs. Additives

Mediums and additives are added to acrylic paints to achieve a specific effect and purpose. Mediums can be added in any amount to your acrylic paint without harming the adhesion of the paints. Additives, however, don’t contain acrylic binders like mediums, so they will have directions on the label for what proportions you should add to your paint. Additives can weaken the color and adhesion of the paint, so it is important to not overuse them.

On to the list of Mediums and Additives!

Gel Mediums

Gel Medium - Acrylic Painting MediumGel medium is the most versatile of the acrylic paint mediums. It is a paste-like gel that thickens paint and adds extra adhesion to the work. Mix with paint so that brushstrokes are accentuated (great for impasto techniques) or use as a glue for your mixed-media collages. Gel medium can also increase the transparency of paint and can be used as a glazing medium substitute. Another favorite use of gel medium is as a tinted glaze. Add a small amount of paint to a large amount of gel medium to create a layer in your artwork that can give everything a subtle tint of color, helping to create a cohesive feel to the work.

Gel medium can also be used to seal the different layers of your painting. A layer of gel medium in between layers will allow you to fix mistakes along the way while painting. When a mistake is made, just wipe away the acrylic paint with a damp cloth and the gel medium will protect the previous layers from being wiped away. Be sure to let each layer of gel medium dry completely before beginning the next layer.

Gel medium is available in both gloss and matte finishes.  Gloss medium will increase the sheen of acrylic paint, while matte medium will create a more subtle, non-reflective finish and will combat the glossy finish of most acrylic paints. Mixing the two finishes together can create interesting combinations that range from matte to semi-gloss to glossy.

Water (Additive)

You’re probably already familiar with watering down acrylic paints, but here are a few tips for beginners:

  • Water is an additive, so use it sparingly to avoid breaking down the adhesion of the paint.
  • A spray bottle of water can be used to mist your canvas or collage to keep your paint wet and workable for longer periods of time.
  • Water breaks down the surface tension of acrylic paints, making them runnier, but also allowing different colors to mix more.

Acrylic Glaze Medium

Acrylic Glaze Medium can be used as an alternative to water because it doesn’t break down the adhesion of the paints. This medium will keep your paint from becoming too watery as you thin it. Acrylic Glaze Medium makes paint more translucent, allowing the painting’s layers to show through and creating a more complex composition.

Some glazing mediums can also extend the drying time for your paints, allowing you to better achieve wet-on-wet techniques in acrylic painting.

Acrylic Retarder (Additive)

If you love wet-on-wet techniques in acrylic painting (which I do!), then you’ll want to invest in an Acrylic Retarder to keep your acrylic paints workable for longer periods of time. This medium extends the dry time, allowing you to work slower, blend paints on the canvas more, and keeps paints from drying out on your palette.

Texture Paste

Texture Paste - Acrylic Paint Mediums and AdditivesWhile not really a medium or an additive, texture paste can create amazing effects in your acrylic painting. Mix with paint to create a paste that can create vivid and colorful 3-D effects on the canvas, or apply the paste first, then paint over it for extra texture on the canvas. Apply through stencils or with a palette knife to create raised designs in your painting. You can also add craft sand to acrylic paint to create a texture paste in any color!

Acrylic Gesso

 

White Gesso - Acrylic Paint Additives and MediumsAcrylic gesso is the perfect starting place for any acrylic painting. It will give the surface “tooth,” which is just a fancy way of saying that it gives the paint something to stick to. Gesso dries with an almost chalky finish, allowing the next layer of paint to grab on better. Use it as a primer for the surface or canvas that you are working with. You can also mix it with your paints to create paints with better adhesion, although white gesso will also change the color of these paint mixtures.

Clear Gesso - Acrylic Painting Additives and MediumsAcrylic gesso is available in a variety of finishes, but most commonly available with a white finish. Clear gesso is a great option if you want the texture of the original surface to show through your painting, and black gesso can make your colors pop off the page! Experiment with different colors and finishes of gesso to find the one that perfectly complements your style.

Black Gesso - Acrylic Painting Additives and Mediums

Tips:

  • Many of the properties of these mediums and additives overlap. Experiment with the different finishes that these mediums and additives provide to determine which is the best fit for your style of painting.
  • Don’t use oil-based mediums with acrylic paints because they will not mix properly and are not compatible.

Shop All Adhesives, Primers, and Mediums

Related Posts: