The use of painting mediums to alter the properties of paint is a centuries-old practice. Ranging from gels to pastes to solutions, mediums can deepen or thin the color, change the sheen, amplify transparency, and modify the handling characteristics of the paint.
While they provide many unique effects and textures, this article specifically focuses on the best mediums for mixing with acrylic paints and how to choose the best for your next project.
What to Look for When Wanting to Mix with Paint?
When you plan to mix mediums with your acrylic paint, several factors warrant consideration. These can influence not only the look and feel of your artwork but also the longevity and durability of the painting.
1. Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts
One of the key aspects to consider when mixing mediums with paint is the preservation of color. Color is the heart of any painting; thus, it’s crucial to maintain its vibrancy and intensity.
Ideally, the medium should not dilute or significantly alter the hue of the paint. Many mediums are inherently white but dry clear, allowing the true color of the paint to show through.
An excellent example is acrylic glazing liquid, which can extend the drying time, improve flow and increase the transparency of your paint without affecting its color. When mixed in moderate amounts, the shift in color should be little to none.
However, it's recommended to always test the mixed medium and paint on a separate piece of paper or canvas before applying it to your main artwork to confirm the resulting color effect.
2. Mixing in to improve/change working performance
Another reason artists mix mediums with paints is to enhance or change the working properties of the paint.
For example, a fluid medium reduces the viscosity of the paint, making it flow more easily and adhering well on the surface while maintaining the integrity of the paint.
On the other hand, a heavy gel medium when mixed with paint, increases its body resulting in a thicker paint that retains brush strokes and is perfect for impasto technique.
The choice of medium depends on whether you want to make the paint thinner for detailed linear work or thicker for creation of texture or heavy bodied art.
3. Mixing in to change cured finish
Mediums can also influence the texture and finish of cured (dried) paint. Gloss mediums, such as gloss medium and varnish, increase the luminosity and vibrancy of the colors and add a high-gloss sheen to the dried paint.
Matte mediums, in contrast, give a non-reflective, matte finish, reducing the sheen and light reflectivity of the paint.
Then, there are mediums like acrylic modeling paste, which can be mixed with paint to create a textured, sculptural effect on the canvas.
It’s worth noting that some mediums can darken or lighten the color of the paint when dry, so always make sure to test the results on a sample before applying to your main piece.
4. Mixing in so that extra paint doesn’t need to be applied on top
Finally, when mixed appropriately, mediums can extend the volume of the paint, therefore, reducing the need for multiple paint layers. An excellent example of this is gel medium that comes in different viscosities and can both extend the paint and add body to it.
Mixing paint with a medium allows for thinner applications of pigmented paint, thus conserving your expensive paints without compromising on the color output.
Remember, mixing paint with mediums not only allows for creative flexibility but it also enhances workability and durability of the painting, and depending on your needs and desired outcome, you have a wide range of mediums to choose from.
Always experiment first to understand how each medium interacts with your paint, inspires you, and brings out the best of your artistic expressions.
Nova Color Mediums and Their Uses
When it comes to mixing mediums with acrylic paint, each has unique properties that can enhance both the application process as well as the final outcome. Here, we organize some of the commonly used mediums and their features categorized based on the above-mentioned metrics.
Matte Medium is a versatile painting medium that is best known for creating a non-reflective, matte finish in acrylic paintings. This is an ideal medium to consider if you want to eliminate glossiness from your paint.
Category (A) – "Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts" indicates that Matte Medium does an excellent job of maintaining the color integrity of your acrylic paint, as it doesn’t influence the color.
Category (C) – "Mixing in to change the cured finish" demonstrates that Matte Medium can alter the final finish of your work to a non-glossy, matte look.
Therefore, #204 Matte Medium can be a great choice if you’re after a matte finish without diluting your paint color.
Novaplex is a popular medium that's used for its ability to alter the working properties of the acrylic paint.
Category (A) –"Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts", Novaplex doesn’t cause major color shifts or dilutions when mixed with your favorite paints.
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance". Novaplex improves the flow and workability of the paint, making it easier to spread across the canvas, great for enhancing smooth layering and subtle blending transitions.
This makes #235 Novaplex is an excellent choice if you're looking to keep the vibrancy of your paint while improving its flow.
Acrylic Retarder is your go-to if you're working on a piece that requires extended working time.
Category (A) - "Not losing color" as it does not cause any significant shifts in the color of the paint. Hence, if your painting process is more time-involving, #299 Acrylic Retarder would be an excellent addition to your paint palette.
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance", Acrylic Retarder stretches the drying time of acrylic paints, giving you ample window to manipulate your strokes or perform techniques like blending or glazing without feeling rushed.
These mediums are more than just additives; they're tools that give you control and versatility in your art. They cater to specific needs and effects, offering the opportunity to explore unique textures, finishes, and painting techniques.
The key is to understand their characteristics and experiment with them to find what works best for your artistic style.
Slow Dry Matte Liquid serves a dual purpose.
Category (A) – "Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts", ensuring that the original color of the paint remains intact.
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance", as it significantly extends the drying time of the paint, allowing more flexibility for blending and detailing.
Category (C) – "Mixing in to change the cured finish", because it dries to a matte finish, reducing the sheen of the dried paint. This medium is perfect if you aim for extended workability while maintaining the richness of your paint color and desire a matte finish.
Nova Gel is a good medium for several reasons.
Category (A) – "Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts," so Nova Gel helps preserve the original hue of your paint.
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance", signifies that Nova Gel changes the texture of the paint, adding body and enabling texture-building effects.
Category (D) – "Mixing in so that extra paint doesn’t need to be applied on top", as its thick consistency extends the volume of the paint reducing the need for additional layers. You can turn to #207 Nova Gel when you want to maintain color fidelity, enhance texture, and extend your paint quantity.
Matte Gel is a heavyweight, opaque medium that falls under:
Category (B) - "Mixing in to improve/change working performance" as it dramatically alters the texture, creating a rich feel.
Category (C) – "Mixing in to change the cured finish" denotes that it dries to a matte finish, reducing the glossiness of the paint.
Category (D) – "Mixing in so that extra paint doesn’t need to be applied on top" means that the gel can extend the paint volume, reducing the frequency of paint application. With #208 Matte Gel, artists can change the texture of their work, change the finish to matte, and get more out of their colored paints.
Nova Super Gel, similar to the previous gel mediums, falls under:
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance", as it modifies the texture of paint when mixed, adding more substance and body.
Category (D) – "Mixing in so that extra paint doesn’t need to be applied on top", as it extends the volume of the paint, requiring fewer layers of paint application.
Choose #209 Nova Super Gel when you're looking for thick, impasto-like textures in your painting and want to extend your paint usage.
Tintable Texture Paste can either be used to create textured surfaces or mixed with acrylic paints.
Category (A) – "Not losing color, or only seeing minor shifts", it integrates well with pigments without significantly affecting the original color.
Category (B) – "Mixing in to improve/change working performance", the paste drastically changes the texture of the paint, making it thicker, and suitable for creating textural and dimensional effects.
Therefore, if your artwork needs more depth without compromising the color, #218 Tintable Texture Paste fits the bill.
Mixing various mediums with paint can elevate the aesthetic and functionality of your artwork. While the mediums discussed offer a myriad of benefits, it's essential to remember that the best medium depends on your specific needs and desired outcome.
Therefore, understanding your project's limits, experimenting with different mediums, aligning them with your painting style, and exploring your options are crucial steps in finding the ideal match.
The magic of painting mediums lies in their ability to break the boundaries of what's possible with acrylic paint—so go on, experiment and let your creativity fly!