3 Use Watercolor Techniques to Blend Acrylics

“Nature Walk” Acrylic on canvas 16″x20″

One method that many acrylic artists overlook is to use acrylics in manner similar to watercolors. While you can thin out heavy body paints, it’s best if you use an acrylic paint with a thin consistency.

There are number of thin acrylics available. Fluid acrylics are available from Golden, and Liquitex offers a line of soft body acrylics. If you want an acrylic paint that has an ink like consistency, you can try Liquitex acrylic inks or Golden high flow acrylics. There are other brands of acrylics that offer acrylics with a thin viscosity.

In this example, I use Hansa Yellow and Phthalo Green fluid acrylics. After I squeeze the colors out on my palate, I thin them with a little water.

Once they’re diluted with water you can apply them like watercolors. You can use acrylic inks straight from the tube for more intense colors.

The canvas board gave me some difficulty with applying washes. It’s rather smooth and it must have had some sort of coating on it that repels water. Scrubbing it with the brush will help it to accept the water.

I start at the top with the yellow and I introduce the Phthalo Green from the bottom until they meet in the middle.

There’s an uncontrollable element to watercolor painting techniques. That’s both the fun and the frustration of watercolors. The wash is going to be a little bit variegated instead of being a uniform solid color. You have to watch out for drips. I have the board at a slight angle so the paint will flow down the board. You can also work on a flat surface.

I use a hair dryer to dry the paint. If the first layer isn’t as dark as you want, you can apply a second wash over the top of it. Some acrylic inks tend to lift if you paint over them too vigorously, especially if they haven’t had a chance to completely cure. Therefore, you want to be careful not to lift the previous layer.

I use multiple washes of color to build up to the saturation that I was looking for. If you use an acrylic ink, you may able to achieve that with one layer because you don’t have to dilute them with water.

You may want to try experimenting with this acrylic watercolor technique on paper. The paper will absorb some of the paint and you may be able to get a more saturated layer in one pass.

4 Blending Acrylics With Glazing Medium

In this example, I begin by painting the entire canvas solid yellow. When the paint dries, I mix Napthol Red Light with glazing medium to increase the transparency.

I start at the bottom with the red. As I work my way up the canvas board, I add more glazing medium to make the color more transparent.

You can apply another glaze on top after the first layer dries. You don’t want to disturb the paint if it’s still tacky or else you’ll pull up some of the existing layers. Use a hairdryer to make it dry faster. Many artists complain that acrylics dry to fast, but I often use a hair dryer to make them dry faster.

Here’s how it looks after 4 layers of glazing with the Napthol Red Light. It would take a very long time to create that many layers of glazing with oil paints.

It does contain some subtle streaks but I don’t mind it. If it’s a problem you can try using different brushes or a smoother surface.

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  1. Really interesting, understand well put. Thank you very much if u can tell me where I can get different colors that mixes and how much of then paints to use receipts. In one book orbpaper.

    1. Chris Breier says:

      I’m having difficulty understanding the question. If you’re asking about mixing colors, look for my acrylic color mixing chart. I also have a color mixing demo on YouTube. I hope this helps.

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