additives

Acrylic Washes And Pours

Two students tilt a paper with acrylic wash

Too bad this is not wine or we could say this wash has “legs!”

Those who love texture will appreciate the point of enhancing it with specially-mixed acrylic washes. Learning to make this mix was the first part of our class. While there are many recipes for it on Your Tube, we were aiming to mix something that could be used in a variety of materials such as paper, molding paste or canvas.

A female student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

A student tilts an acrylic wash she has applied with a spray bottle.

Our surface was heavy watercolor paper because this paper can take a lot of abuse. We scored it, sanded it and covered it with masking fluid. The texture and hues on the wash can serve as a beautiful background for a collage. Once the acrylic washes were applied with a spray bottle, we tilted it and let the excess pour on a mixing tub that had an inch of water.

A hand applies spray to a small canvas on a table.

This canvas was first treated with molding paste and the acrylic wash accentuates the textures.

The second part of our class was devoted to learning how to mix the paint for a pour. This time we tried both paper and canvas. I had a few examples to show. There are many resources on You Tube that can show you how to make various types of pours, but I find there is no substitute for doing one yourself. Not everyone is comfortable with the messiness factor engendered by this type of activity. By the time we finished, our pours were hanging from a clothesline, dripping lots of paint on my studio floor!

A large paper shows patterns made with thick paint over wet paper.

Pouring medium over a wet paper results in something Joan Miró could have made.

Impasto!

Small painting of clouds, hills and grass

Realistic effects are part of the impasto mistique.

The third acrylics class was just like a food network show. We gathered round to see the making of modeling paste “recipes,” then we saw an impasto demonstration, and then it was time for us to try it for ourselves. Impasto is the application of thick paint to a surface. This can be done in a variety of ways with acrylic, thanks to the many applications of this medium and  to all of the additives in the market.

We worked from simple references, mixing colors first on the palette, then applying the thick paste with a palette knife onto primed cardboard.

A student's arms and hands hold a brush and a palette knife.

A student gets ready to apply impasto with a palette knife.

Woman's hands applying thick paint with palette knife.

Several acrylic additives give paint a thicker texture.

People like impasto because it visually reminds viewers of the very physical nature of paint while simultaneously creating an illusion. It gives you the opportunity to work with paint that is easier to control. Application with a palette knife does not require so much skill and some even say is more ergonomic than holding a brush. For people with arthritis, it is physically easier to spread heavy paint on a surface than to beat paint into a canvas.

I advised everyone to get the largest surface they could bring to class. Something we all discover sooner or later is that impasto call for a large palette or mixing surface. It is also more comfortable to use larger gestures to apply paint, and to be able to tilt the easel. Some people get rid of the easel altogether and use a table.

Acrylic Additive Recipes

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Guide to Acrylic Mediums and Additives

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