What is a wet-in-wet painting technique?
Once you apply paint, or mediums, onto your painting surface, it stays wet for a certain amount of time. Let’s call this your first paint layer. The time this layer stays wet varies according to the type of paint or medium you use, how thickly it is applied, and environmental factors like temperature and humidity.
While this layer is still wet, you can load your brush or knife with more paint or mediums, then add it, or unload it, directly into the wet layer. That’s wet in wet! By working this way, you can create soft edges or blended areas much easier. If you use a clear medium or clear gel for your first layer, and you work your paint color into it while wet, you can get a variety of transparencies. This is a good technique to use when you want these results; blended edges, transparency or texture.
As an example, below is a technique I created that uses this wet-in-wet idea in a very dramatic way to create in addition to what I just mentioned above, lots of gooey texture. I call this technique “Soft Melted Effects”, and it is just one of the many unusual acrylic painting techniques included in my book, Acrylic Illuminations: Reflective and Luminous Acrylic Painting Techniques.
SOFT MELTED EFFECTS
Wet-in-wet acrylic painting technique
Paint: one or more acrylic paint colors
Substrate: any primed painting surface
Tools: paintbrush, painting knife or other spreading tool
Products: a matte or gloss acrylic gel
For clean-up: water, water container, paper towels or rags
On a surface paint an underpainting using any style or technique. This ice cream cone with violet background uses Cobalt Turquoise, Burnt Sienna, Vat Orange, Raw Umber, Carbon Black, Titanium White and Hansa Yellow Light.
Select an acrylic gel. Gloss dries transparent while a matte gel appears veiled or cloudy. Using a knife or other spreading tool, such as a spatula, heavily apply gel all over surface at least ¼” in depth. Here Heavy Gel Gloss is applied. Continue to the next step while wet.
Using a brush or knife, apply paint color on the wet gel. Heavier gels allow smoother applications of paint, while softer gels record the application texturally. Gel appears white when wet, temporarily hiding the underpainting. If you need to control where the paint is applied for this layer scrape the gel away from small areas at a time with a knife to peak at where forms are then push gel back into place.
Tip: Remember to use white as it’s easy to forget to use it when the wet gel is white. Continue to the next step while wet.
Using a clean knife glide over the edges pushing the color down into the depths of the gel layer. Move the paint around to soften and blur until satisfied. When the gel is dry the underpainting and overpainting will visually merge as seen here.