9 Acrylic Blending Techniques

In Acrylic Painting, Color by Chris Breier2 Comments

5 Fast Blending With Heavy Body Acrylics

One approach to working with acrylics is to learn how to work fast. It also helps to apply the paint in a slightly thicker layer so that it doesn’t dry too quickly. The rate at which acrylic paint dries depends upon the thickness. If you apply a slightly thicker layer than normal, it will extend the drying time.

This strategy works best for blending small areas of color. The paint may begin to dry if you try to blend a very large area.

The colors I’m using here are Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Magenta. I use the same strategy of starting from the top with the Ultramarine Blue and adding the second color as work down the board.

There’s really no secret to this. If you can keep the paint wet, then you can just keep blending and working your way through the gradient until it’s smooth.

Out of all of these examples, this may the smoothest blend. This technique works well for situations like this where it’s just horizontal blending across the entire canvas. Blending becomes more difficult when you blend two colors together in small irregular shape.

Some artists like to apply both colors and then use a second clean brush to blend the transition area. A soft brush usually works well for this, but it will only work if the paint isn’t starting to tack up. One way to extend the blending time is to mist the paint with water before it dries.

6 Mist the Paint With Water to Keep It Wet

If you are working on an area of your painting and the paint begins to dry, you can mist it with water from a spray bottle.

Buy a couple different bottles and try them out. You want one that has a fine and uniform spray. Some of them will spit large droplets onto your canvas which may leave a mark. If you hold the bottle further away from the canvas, the larger droplets should fall to the floor instead of onto the canvas.

Sometimes the droplets will leave a pattern on the wet paint. There’s not much you can do about this. If you still have the color on your brush, you can try and smooth it out. Other times it disappears as the drops of water evaporate.

You can also use the spray bottle to keep the paints wet on your palette, although a Sta Wet palette works well too.

I prefer the small spray bottles as they produce a fine spray. The larger spray bottles found at hardware stores are made for cleaning solutions or for spraying plants. They usually produce a spray that’s too powerful.

In this example, I’m blending Liquitex soft body acrylics. The colors are Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow Light, and Light Green Permanent.

It doesn’t show in the photos, but I spray the paint with water while I’m blending the colors. I use three color for this example to make it more difficult. I can take my time because I can keep the paint wet by spraying it.

7 Dry Brushing With Acrylics

Dry brushing works best with a thick paint and a stiff brush. In this example, I’m using Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics. Soft hair brushes won’t work as well because they don’t move the paint around as well.

You can use dry brushing to create smooth transitions of color, and it doesn’t matter that the paint dries quickly.

The colors that I’m using are Cobalt Blue Hue and Burnt Sienna. I mix both of these colors with white to make them more opaque.

Make sure to dry the brush off before dipping it into the paint because any extra water will interfere with this blending technique. There’s a reason why they call it DRY brushing. Heavy body acrylics work well with this technique because you want a thick paint that you can scrub onto the canvas.

I occasionally dab the paint onto a paper towel to remove some the extra paint.

I start at the bottom and scrub the paint onto the canvas board. As I make my way up the canvas I begin to introduce the Burnt Sienna.

After the first layer dries, I can see some of the white canvas through the first layer paint. Since dry brushing applies a thin layer of paint you may have to do two layers to get it to cover.

The two colors neutralize each other where they meet in the middle. I apply a second coat and it produces a rather smooth gradient.

Comments

  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. Author

      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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