View Full Version : Wet on Wet

05-18-2018, 12:30 PM
Switching from oils to acrylics. To create substitute for Bob Ross Liquid White in acrylics, I'm considering combination of acrylic gesso + retarder + either Liquitex Airbrush Medium or Liquitex Palette Spray. Which has more polymer, airbrush medium or palette spray? Objective: to avoid using water.

Or, what about simply coating canvas with film of gel retarder followed by gesso (or titanium white)? Too high % retarder?

Looking for working time of 1 hour, needed for large canvasses.


05-18-2018, 01:09 PM
What is your surface?

What's the problem with water? Acrylic paint shrinks by 30% as it dries, so that's about how much water is in it to begin with.

Gesso makes a sloppy white that stays workable for quite a while. Why not try that by itself first?

05-18-2018, 01:17 PM
You could do BR style without the full on wet on wet part.. I did it in cool temperatures and thick paint application/wet palette..
What part of BR style are you wanting to do, mainly the "look" of the fan brush trees & knife mountains?
You could explore Jerry Yarnell's landscape style in acrylic.

05-19-2018, 11:23 AM
I've read somewhere recently a little bit of added glycerin will keep the paint open. Too much and it will never dry. From my limited experience with Golden opens they stay workable for about an hour, but very expensive for your purposes, which is why glycerin might be worth experimenting with. I've never used retarder but that might work well enough. Acrylic painter Jerry Yarnell mists the canvas with water and with what i've seen so far his working style resembles Bob Ross.

05-19-2018, 11:52 AM
I'm with Cliff on this. Try water with gesso and keep it less than 40% water. You might want to use distilled water if you are concerned about the PH of your water. Why use airbrush medium if it isn't necessary?

I would prefer to completely avoid the risk of overusing retarders and ending up with a permanent goo painting.

05-23-2018, 10:09 PM
The best retarder I've used is Food grade Propylene Glycol (Basically antifreeze). I buy it full strength on Amazon and mix with 6-7 parts distilled water. It's a fraction of the cost of the brand names retarders (The main ingredient in most of them is Propylene Glycol). I keep it in a small spritzing spray bottle. It's recommended that you don't use more than 5-10% to your paints although I've never had any issues with using slightly more.

It's not a perfect Oil wet-on-wet substitute, but it is very do-able. Just make sure there is limited air movement or even the retarded paint can dry quicker than you want. Personally, I wouldn't pre-spray the surface with retardant. I think It's unnecessary and there's always a small risk of separation/De-laminating if the top layer dries faster.