Using Acrylic with Other Mediums

by | Dec 17, 2010 | Blog | 6 comments

If you use mediums other than acrylic, such as oil, watercolor or gouache, you can still use acrylic to add new effects to your work. Acrylic pastes or gels can be applied as a first layer to any substrate, such as canvas, wood or cardboard to create a new surface ground. A surface ground changes the way paint gets accepted onto the surface. First decide whether you want the ground surface to be absorbent or non-absorbent. Absorbent surfaces are usually matte and will create a soft muted effect, with the paint sinking into the surface. While non-absorbent ground surfaces are usually glossy, and the paint will glide and settle on the top. Both types of surfaces are valid. Once the acrylic gel or paste is applied let it dry overnight. Now paint with your favorite medium but heavily dilute with the appropriate solvent to allow the ground to take effect. For example, if you want to paint with oil, heavily thin the oil paint color with turpentine or mineral spirits so the oil paint becomes runny. Now apply it to the acrylic ground. Scrub the paint in with rags, wipe it off in places, try brushes and knives to get a variety of effects.

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  1. Nancy Reyner

    That is a good question! I did mention that any painting substrate would be fine (canvas, panel, paper, wood, etc) but what I didn't mention is that it is a good idea to prime with a coat of gesso (1 coat is usually sufficient) before applying the next layer of acrylic gel or paste. Using gesso enhances the adhesion of subsequent layers. Thanks for bringing that up!

  2. PaintingLover

    Nice explanation regarding the oil painting and acrylic.

  3. Nancy Reyner

    Hi Jimmy,
    An absorbent surface is created by applying a paste or gel that is matte, or has some tooth to it. My favorite is Golden's Light Molding Paste (not the same product as the one called just Molding Paste). Other options are Golden's Absorbent Ground, Pumice Gel, or Fiber Paste). When you use a gloss gel or any gel that gives a very smooth surface, than the paint will sit more easily on top. I like to use Molding Paste, or any Gloss Medium or Gel. When the paint is diluted, as I mentioned, with the appropriate solvent, it will respond to these surfaces more readily. Did this help?

  4. Jim Springett

    I am interested in how this works, can you explain what to use to makean absorbing top coat and one that the oil paint stays on surface. When you use the acrylic gel medium, which ones do what? Thank you for this blog.

    Jimmy Springett-wildlife artist


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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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