View Full Version : Another "Black" Acrylic post

05-24-2004, 03:18 PM
Just reading a post by Kirkbear....Helped a lot. But I have a problem, which is most defiantly down to technique. (or lack of). This problem, for me, has been one of the most agitating things I have come across in my short time with acrylics...But Iím probably striving for perfection beyond my reach...(a constant factor in my work and an almost self destructive one :crying: )

Iím looking for the flattest black finish on canvas...There are a lot of sharp lines where I have to cut in, which is fine....But when it comes to filling in large spaces the following things happen:

1. As soon as the paint is applied and smoothed, it dries...the next brush strokes, which overlap the last, dry darker than the ones underneath leaving a very patchy finish.

2. Certain strokes of paint will congeal faster than others leaving sections where the final tooth of the canvas is totally covered....Any brushing out doesnít do a thing and lifts the paint surrounding it.

3. Adding water to the paint turns the watery surface a greyish blue...(Winsor & newton flow formula - clearly says can be diluted)

Technique.... I have used many different sized brushes to test.... I have tried horizontal direction only and all direction brushing to smooth the paint out...

The painting will look great from one side and straight on (while standing 5 feet in front of it mind) but look at it from a particular angle where the light hits it and I really begin to notice the brush marks (and then the shiver runs down my spine)...

I'm not a total moron but....Any more tips would be great...thanks all...


05-24-2004, 04:31 PM
Welcome Tom!

Try these tips: Use acrylic medium to thin the paint instead of or with less water. Mix a bit of retarder in the paint before you add the medium/water. A slow-drying blending medium or slow-drying glazing medium can be used in place of medium/retarder (read the label, some glazing mediums are fast drying). Blend these additives in on your palette with a palette knife, not your brush. The paint will disperse better. Use the largest, softest brush you can find for the area you are painting. Wet the brush thoroughly and then blot before you pick up the paint.


Richard Saylor
05-24-2004, 05:01 PM
Tom, you might enjoy using an airbrush: no brush marks at all. A lot of people use acrylics with both an airbrush and a conventional "hairy stick" brush in the same painting.

05-26-2004, 04:53 PM
cmyguy, I am actually going to try using one, thanks....But again, I have never use d one before..Just wondering if i need to thin the acrylics out?


Richard Saylor
05-26-2004, 05:27 PM
cmyguy, I am actually going to try using one, thanks....But again, I have never use d one before..Just wondering if i need to thin the acrylics out?

Yes, regular acrylics will need to be thinned. The people on the airbrush forum will give you all the help you need.

05-26-2004, 05:51 PM
Hi Tom, I wasn't going to suggest an airbrush or spraygun as it's not an option for most people, since you're okay with the idea spraying can't be beaten for an absolutely flawless painted surface. The paint has to be thinned yes, you're aiming for something like the consistency of milk or light cream, nothing heavier or it will clog very easily. Dedicated nozzles for acrylics, such as are available with Azteks, won't hurt either. Canned propellant will work out very expensive very quickly, if you think you'll be doing this a fair bit a compressor is well worth the money (it will cost more than the airbrush, probably a LOT more!)

Let me assure you, you can achieve very good flat finishes with acrylics, using a brush, if you apply the paint correctly. I'll go through your points one at a time and see if I can help.

1. This sounds like you're just noticing the effects of varying coverage - two strokes cover more than one stroke until you have achieved opaque coverage. Acrylics aren't that opaque when used thinly and Galeria has far from the highest concentration of pigment, so you might have to apply four or more thin layers to get a good consistent coat.

2. This is a common problem with people new to acrylics. There are a number of ways to try to avoid this but the best advice I can give is to work as quickly and as smoothly as you can. Work out from a wet edge and try not to go over an area too much - the next coat or coats will sort out the coverage. As you've discovered, acrylic paint can dry very quickly indeed and once it has begun to dry if you brush over it you'll just make a mess.

3. Not sure quite what you're referring to here. If you wet a dry acrylic paint film it does lighten in value, quite dramatically for some colours, but this will disappear once the paint dries again. If you're talking about the thinned paint as you're using it, well this is another common feature of acrylics, they appear lighter when fluid than when dry: this is the 'colour shift' often referred to. This tends to be more pronounced with darker colours, just as with the above phenomenon. Some brands have been formulated to minimise this as much as possible but at high dilutions it can be very noticeable.

As for trying to avoid being able to see any brushmarks at all, working on canvas is a good start. Other tips, work with the largest flat brush you can possibly use for the area in question; one of the synthetic fibres should work fine, Golden Taklon or white polyester: the finer the fibre the smoother the paint will go down. Apply the paint at about the consistency of single cream, aiming to achieve coverage with maybe four layers, not one or two. Speed-drying between applications with a hairdryer is perfectly acceptable, especially with very thin paint (with thicker paint this doesn't work quite as well). You could also try slightly dampening the canvas from the back before painting, this helps keep the paint from drying patchily until you're done with an area.

Last point, you're using Mars Black yes? This is the most opaque black, but you'll find the same colour from a higher range like Finity, Cryla, Golden or Rembrandt will give you much better coverage. I've found in my limited use of them that System 3 is slightly better in strength than Galeria but I haven't directly compared the same colours so it's hard to judge; you might like to give a tube a try, they're cheap enough.


05-26-2004, 06:17 PM
Thanks Einion for that very thorough explanation. Greatly appreciated!

HRH Goldie
05-27-2004, 05:46 AM
Another great post Einion, I love the way that sometimes depending on colour I can manipulate the shades on the canvas even when dry and applied thinly.
Tom I am currently experimenting with mixing pva with acrylic. I must say I am so excited with the concept and the way the paint is working for me. I will be posting an update today on the current thread about this.
Not only does it seem to unify the colour (if you want it to) but it retards the drying process, it doesn't seem to change the original values too much (as I have found with dedicated mediums).
At the moment I can say that everything that expensive additives can offer is being addressed by doing this.
I will say that as a word of caution or two! I am still experimenting and wouldn't recommend using on a treasured piece of work until sure of findings.
Also if you don't like a sheen to your work and prefer matt then this will not work for you.
I am aware that this technique challenges convention but it's exciting, cheap and that's how discoverys are made aren't they? :D