Opaque Painting Techniques Using Acrylic

by | Aug 2, 2007 | Blog | 2 comments

Using contrasts or opposites is an important painting tool. Pairing warm with cool colors, or hard edges with soft, or simple spaces with complex ones, adds intrigue, focus and power to the image. Since I like to use glazes and transparent layering in my work, an essential contrasting technique then, is the use of opaque painted areas. Not all colors are opaque right out of the tube. The newer colors, which often have unusual names like Phthalo or Quinacridone, are naturally transparent. The more common colors such as Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cadmiums are naturally opaque. (More information about pigment differences is included in my new book, Acrylic Revolution.) To paint opaquely, I start my painting session by adding a large lump of acrylic Molding Paste in the middle of my palette. Pastes in general are opaque, and will whiten colors as well as thicken the textural quality. To the paste, I add about 15% retarder and some water, mixing thoroughly, and keeping the paste mixture in a close clump on the palette to keep it staying wet longer. As I paint, I make smaller mixtures on the palette using 1 part colored acrylic paint to1 part of the paste mixture. I usually apply it with a painting knife. A painting I recently finished, called Koi Pond, uses this acrylic technique, using the paste mixtures all applied with a knife. My paintings currently on exhibit in Santa Fe use a combination of the opaque pastes with transparent glazes.

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  1. Nancy Reyner

    I did go to art school, but I also spent lots of time reading art books, and I read many art magazines. In any subject or career there is always a technical hump, where you have the choice to seek out information to help better understand that field of study. Art is a non-verbal discipline, which means that it is difficult to describe the act and art of painting using words. You are not alone in feeling confusion with art terminology.

  2. paint brush lady

    all of this sounds good if most people know what all of those words mean…did you by chance go to school to be an artist or is it a God given talent?


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About Nancy

Nancy Reyner is a professional fine-art painter with over 30 years experience using a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed media. She has appeared on television for HGTV’s “That’s Clever,” and authored several best-selling painting books with F&W Media. She currently lives in Santa Fe, NM. Read more.
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