Understanding Acrylic Mediums


In a world where fine art creates immense interest, you have an abundance of material to inspire your art work. Acrylic paint can be used along with pastels, which is great way for adapting to the dynamic world of art. A medium is any liquid such as oil, water, glue, modeling paste, etc. used with paint to get a desired result.

With acrylic paint mediums, you can modify properties of the subject like the thickness, shine, drying time and the texture, wherever you find necessary.


When you want to dilute acrylic paint, it is possible to use water but it is not advisable. After the water and the acrylic paint reach a certain ratio, the paint will lose its adherence properties, making the paint watery, increasing its transparency but resulting in an uneven coverage.


Note: In the painting showcased above, titled “White Rock,” some of the areas of translucent orange and blue paint have been painted with acrylic paint and gel medium to bring out a translucent look.

Getting this level of finesse takes good practice and an understanding of what works best while working with acrylic paints. Here’s an overview to understand the mediums you can use while painting with acrylic paints.

1. Understanding mediums:

a. Consistency

Liquid gel medium used for increasing the fluidity:
For those of you who are new to mediums, they come in different types of consistencies – ranging from liquid to heavy. Before beginning, here’s a little more on how to use gel medium on canvas. If you find the paint to be too opaque for a particular section in your painting, then your best bet to make it more transparent without getting an uneven coverage, is to use a liquid gel medium. In this way you can increase the paint’s transparency without compromising the consistency and adhesive properties.

Liquid gels are self-leveling, making them a convenient option for glazing. Glazing aids you in adding a thin and a transparent layer of paint, just enough to modify the colour underneath.

Heavy body medium used for increasing the paint consistency:
If you want to create visible brush strokes, use the heavy body mediums. Heavy body mediums will help you add interesting strokes with the brush, enabling you to create beautiful designs, over a layer of already applied paint.

Gel medium finish:
The gel medium comes in gloss, semi-gloss and matte finish. Using this finish will alter the paint’s shine. When you find sections in your painting that are glossier than other areas, use gel medium finish to correct this and to create an even tonality, as desired.

b. Adhesives

Most of the gel mediums can also be used as adhesives. This works well when creating collages. In order to render the best result, try using a gel medium with a gloss finish instead of matte finish.


Here, gel medium has been used as an adhesive to fix a thread used in the art piece, as shown above.


You can even use gel medium for adding collage paper on acrylic painting as shown in the painting above.

2. Texture Mediums:

Texture mediums, as the name suggests, are used to modify the texture of acrylic paint.

a. Modeling paste

The modeling paste medium is the most commonly used texture mediums by artists. Usually made out of marble paste, this opaque-white heavy gel will adhere over most surfaces. You can use it to create 3-D textures within your painting. Once it dries, modeling paint can then be sanded over and/or painted over.


b. Acrylic Ground for Pastels

When you want to create a mixed media piece, you can apply a medium with a fine texture. This allows you to use pastels on top of the paint on the canvas.


3. Medium to increase flow

Some mediums help increase the flow of acrylic paint. More flow means increased straining properties of the canvas. It can also be used when you want to use the ‘pour the paint’ technique in your painting.


4. The medium that dries slowly

One of the challenges while painting with acrylic paints could be that it dries quickly, making it harder to blend colours on your canvas. You can add a slow drying medium to your acrylic paint to double the drying time. Adding the slow drying medium enables the acrylic paint to behave more like oil paints, allowing you enough time to blend colours.

So the next time you opt to paint with acrylic paint, you know which medium you will need to keep handy to get the right output. Simply add it to the paint you want to use and begin painting!

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