View Full Version : Test on acrylics 'pretending' to be oils!

HRH Goldie
05-26-2004, 06:04 AM
Okay, as discussed on previous threads - the possibility of using PVA glue as a medium for acrylics. Having ascertained that there was no technical reason as to why you couldn't (both are made of plastic compounds) then the theory in my head was that it would possibly add the translucency as in oils some people were looking for when laying down washes and glazes.
This is the underpainting obviously in black and white. I was really pleasantly surprised to find the pva mixed really easily with the paint. The darker more 'true' colours from the tube were only mixed with a small amount and a small amount of water - this stopped the paint being sticky to the brush.
The paler colours I actually used 50 paint 40 glue and 10 water. The paint behaved on the canvas very like water based oils (in my opinion). They felt the same and looked the same with the sheen that is so hard to find.
The interesting thing would be the drying time and end result - would it be tacky and not set properly or something else?
Next day I'm pleased to report that paint dried better than I'd imagine it would and the marvellous thing was that the paint on the pallette was still totally useable! (Before going to bed I made sure that I added a small amount of water just in case). Had i wanted to I would have been able to bring it back to exactly the same consistency and continue where I had left off.
The problem I have now is that rather foolishly I chose a black and white image to use as reference. Although you can see the effect in 'real life' on photo its really hard to see any difference.
I may glaze over with the same treatment to the paint but add colour as this is only a test piece and see what effects we can see then.
This was on a sheet of 12 x 16 gessoed canvas that isn't on stretchers.

05-26-2004, 07:25 AM
oooppppsssssss!!!! whats PVA stand for?

05-26-2004, 07:56 AM
The problem I have now is that rather foolishly I chose a black and white image to use as reference. Although you can see the effect in 'real life' on photo its really hard to see any difference.

I'm curious how it will work with a variety of colors. Wouldn't adding the white glue to darker colors like ultramarine would change their value? I'm very interested so please post any future experiments!


05-26-2004, 09:04 AM
y'all are light years ahead of me.... :p

Lady Carol
05-26-2004, 11:28 AM
The interesting thing is that PVA dries clear doesn't it. Then the only thing that would have to be guaged(sp?) when adding it is accepting that when using colours they will not be as bright but will increase in intensity as they dry?????

This is somewhat like glazing medium, which does this as well.

Christine please keep us posted with your experiments.

Lady Carol
05-26-2004, 11:29 AM
Oh and I meant to say that I didn't think your choice of B&W as being foolish but rather wise.

05-26-2004, 11:34 AM
yeah, wouldn't glue alter the color when it dries? The point of mixing glue with acrylics again please? :confused: I was told that PVA glue was white glue like that stuff you get for school kids. It doesn't dry clear. What brand name are you using again? Where'd you get it? The art store? How does this mimic oils? Does it enhance the blendability?

What about archival quality? I'd hate to paint with this and then a buyer says the painting is cracking. I at least want my artwork to last until I am dead. Then I don't really care :)

In Sean Dye's book about water oils he says you can mix them with acrylics and there is an artist who paints a whole painting in acrylic then layers water oils over it for final fine work. Don't know the archivalness of this either. Artist has not emailed me in reply yet.


HRH Goldie
05-26-2004, 12:15 PM
Pheew! I knew this was going to be controversial but I think its good to test product boundaries. This is how we can push techniques etc to the limit and try different things without breaking the bank.
Right lets try and get to why I wanted to try this.
Firstly I think mediums - whether they are for mixing with acrylics or oils are frankly way overpriced. I happen to be on a tight budget (not being able to sell a painting for 40 mil LOL see recent thread :rolleyes: )
Having used water based oils as glazes over acrylics, this produces a very pleasing effect and brings to acrylics what is missing with regard to translucency, sheen, and that certain x factor that oils bring.
I was trying to find a solution for those of us who would like to 'dabble' in oils but because of children, pets and lack of space plus cost = total inpractibility.
I really like the way oil glazes laid over the acrylic blending with the existing painting but at the same time appearing to breath new life into it - if you understand what I'm trying to say - its hard to put into words.
I have and do use different acrylic mediums but they are expensive especially when covering a large canvas.
The previous painting 'Eventide' that I posted as a new thread was painted with the same principles applied as if I had done the project in oil.
One problem is the ability to leave paint on the pallette especially if it is dilute enough for a wash. Adding retarder does seem to affect certain pigments differently and if you didn't want to lose clarity then I was sure there must be another way.
I saw in an acrylic technique encyclopedia a one line reference to the use of PVA and started to think.
The technical bods on here I know have the details of the 'chemical compositions' on the two substances but the bottom line is that they are both plastic based and water soluble - therefore my theory was that if I didn't let the mix dry on either brush or pallette I wouldn't have a problem.
That led me to here and having to try a test piece.
I have been told that there are many PVA glues in America so perhaps someone over there will be able to advise on brands. I chose to buy some from a DIY/Retailer but I know you can get specific acid and lignin free glue. I presume that if it is safe to use on precious stuff for memory albums then you should be fine with that. Quantity for quantity you get heaps more pva than you would a specific additive for acrylic.
It's already been said by a couple of people that pva dries clear and I'm sure that crafters use it as a type of protective covering or varnish in some instances.
As for the test of time - well only time will tell! ;) I have pondered over the longevity of acrylics in general as it is plastic based and always thought (before now) that plastics were biodegradable. That being said acrylic doesn't dry out as oil does and acrylic keeps a modicum of flexibility, which can only be a good thing.
One enemy of acrylic is heat. One only has to run a dry pallette under hot water to find that it comes off with a chewing gum texture. I saw a post that suggested you dry off acrylic with a hair dryer. That worried me in case they used it on the hot setting.
Carol - thanks for the black and white opinion - whilst the image I was painting works well in black and white and it is a good tonal study to try, I was deliberating on adding colour to see what it would do to them. On saying that Michael suggested that it might change colours like ultramarine. This is why I think I should try but probably seeing how the paints work it probably works just the same as the mars black. I was going to say paynes grey too but that would be wrong because it doesn't have the same translucency.
Pthalogirl mentioned the use of the longevity of water based oils and apparently the only difference is that they have addressed the repellent quality of the oil and reduced this otherwise the pigment etc is supposed to be the same. However talking to my tutor he said never to use mixed with acrylic as the two mediums 'interfere' with each other. Nor would you use acrylic over the oil once dry it bears the same rules as ordinary oils and finally as with ordinary oil the archival quality should remain the same also.
I envisage that regardless of how the image 'paints' up - should I want it to it would last way beyond me! ;)
I have to do a couple of chores but my mission should you wish me to accept it is to put on a couple of colour glazes and post back in the morning.
My apologies for the length of this post but there is no quick easy way to explain.

Lady Carol
05-27-2004, 11:08 AM
waiting with coffee in hand for the next installment.

Thanks for the thoughts/ramblings of a curious mind.

As a scientist I highly commend this type of investigation and am somewhat jealous that I didn't think of it first. This would really appeal to my sense of curiosity. But as you are well on the way to the answer I will not plagarize the experiments

HRH Goldie
05-27-2004, 11:33 AM
Hi Carol, I mused with the idea of just doing this thing in 'private' as am not one technically minded or two what you would call 'time served' in art.
I am however filled with a passion and an excitement that I haven't felt for years! :p
Please please please try if you like it warrants as much input and discussion (I think) as we can muster. As you will know from your field of work that one persons experiments can not be counted as a field trial.
My blasted camera batteries have gone flat so I am waiting to charge them up a bit before I can update photo wise.
What I will need is input on the composition and colour in the picture. As the image was originally black and white and I have never in my life painted glass I am shooting blind here.
I have gone off gut feeling but its probably way off mark. The wine bottle is standing in front of what I presume is a keg or barrel and in front of the wine bottle is the glass of what I presume is red wine yummmy! Question I have been toying with is does the glass pick up colours from all or just one of the other items. Light is coming obviouslyfrom right.
Any input much appreciated from you or anyone else who has an opinion or wants to experiment too.
I'm loving it! In the words of a famous burger chain :D

Lady Carol
05-27-2004, 11:59 AM
Drat those batteries!!!!

And my coffee has gone cold :crying:

What scientists usually do is let the pioneer get all the bugs out and then they jump into the fry and try it themselves. Although in reality the first we here of it is in an article, not during the experimental stage. Or if we are in on the brainstorming, then we respect the originator of the idea.

However having your permission, I ponder if I have PVA glue at home. And if not, what is the alternative for that here in the States

HRH Goldie
05-27-2004, 12:26 PM
Carol :D
Got pics now so am uploading them after this - right I checked Dick Blicks site and there are 240 references to glue :eek:
I can remember someone mentioning Elmers glue all on another forum when I told them of my rantings.
They have online help too so maybe they would be able to tell you which other makes are comparable. You see with choice comes decision - a concept I'm not too good with. ;)

HRH Goldie
05-27-2004, 12:56 PM
Okay here we go to stage two.
There was another photo but can't find it - it must have saved in an obscure place.
Right I decided to go for as usual a mix of brands of paint. This will show whether or not it works in lesser pigmented paints.
I so far have used mainly Galleria as there was a mention somewhere that this is a lesser pigmented paint than say even system 3.
I used a couple of cryla and they were venetian red (I didn't have another make this dark and pale olive).
Colours titanium white, mars black and paynes grey for underpainting.
Blocked in colours - Phthalo green for bottle
Venetian red, touch of crimson and touch of cad red for wine.
barrel in background - burnt umber raw burnt sienna and raw sienna
touch of titantium white as highlight in glass.
I took this pic without flash but in bright sunlight so you could see sheen on paint. It is dry.
Paint is still working well and I can be more 'creative' and loose instead of worrying about straight lines etc as the paint is more manipulative.
For those of you who are going to try. Make doubley sure your brush has been in water before you put it in the paint/glue mix and don't be frightened to keep adding drops of water if you need the paint to flow better. Otherwise I am pleased the way I can paint thinner but still have impact of colour as this first glaze hopefully proves and that it is so thin that the texture of the painting surface (canvas) can still come through and add its own value to the painting.
If anyone needs to know anything please post or you want to get involved with testing or even if you can tell me how to paint a glass in this instance LOL!
'Share and share alike' I always say - you can tell I'm a mother can't you. :D

HRH Goldie
05-27-2004, 12:58 PM
When I look at the left side of the picture I see it appears lighter - this is the reflection and sheen off paint but it looks just as if it is painted lighter. Hopefully when hubby gets in he can retrieve other pic then it will be more obvious - I hope :confused:

Lady Carol
05-27-2004, 03:58 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

This is brilliant.

I have to give this a go.

Lady Carol
05-27-2004, 04:01 PM
Both the wine glass and the bottle read wonderfully like glass.

On a small technical note, the wine glass is a little wonky but I don't think it detracts from the painting at all. I doubt I could have done better either. The colours are lushious

05-27-2004, 05:49 PM
I haven't read all the long posts above, sorry, just wanted to let you know..

PVA is not acid-free. Important to note if you concerned about archival quality. You can buy acid-free PVA, but I don't know where in the US. :(

And water-misceable oils (not water-based, they can only be mixed with water to a certain percent, and are still not compatible with acrylics because their drying/flexibility properties are still the same as with regular oils) have a sticky quality unless real oils. Also, according to one conservator on another list (Cowdisley) no water-misc oils on the market are considered artist quality.


HRH Goldie
05-28-2004, 05:22 AM
PVA is not acid free Thanks for your comments. :)
I think I mentioned somewhere that you can get PVA glue which is not acid free. I understand from previous mentions of this theory on other forums that there are many to choose from. That being said most pva glue is used for either paper crafts eg memory albums or DIY. I know it is frequently used as an additive to other building materials. I know you can add it to ordinary household emulsion - especially on newly plastered walls. This is because it has a slight resist to sinking in to virgin plaster and also has a slight flexibility too. Of course we know some artists use emulsion instead of gesso and this is acceptable because that too is a 'plastic' paint.
I have advised in previous posts to exercise caution and not to use it on a beloved piece until more people have either tried it or provided technical data.
I would love to see however more people trying it because it is really interesting and gives the paint a whole new feel.
Most of the glues have technical help lines so it would be worth checking out what the company says about that particular product.
It is interesting to note that people trust acrylics but they don't trust the glue. Acrylics have not been around long (in the scheme of things like art materials, when compared to watercolour and oil) so we don't really know exactly what the longevity of the paint is anyway. I know fifty odd years is indeed a long time but not long in the art world.
Finally I would say that plastic based glue has been used in collage making for a long time now, being that it is safe to use and is non toxic.
I personally think its worthy of experimentation and it gives us another 'toy' to play with.
I will telephone the helpline number that is given on my glue today and report back with findings.
In the meantime if anyone is doing any sort of practice work why not give it a go? You may be very surprised. ;)

05-28-2004, 08:54 AM
Just to let you know:
1. plastics are not biodegradable
2. cheap PVA glue is not acid-free, so be careful
3. do not apply direct heat to PVA glue, or leave in the sun - it will turn yellow and become brittle.

Otherwise, I like your ideas, as I also been a scientist, have every intention to have a go - just after I finish my five pieces for an assignment! :confused:

05-28-2004, 11:24 AM
This sounds very interesting and when i have some extra cash i am going to look for pva glue and try a painting too! It never hurts to try something else out and see what happens!

Cherie :)

HRH Goldie
05-29-2004, 07:48 AM
Hi all and welcome to bio artist and Cherie,
Thanks for clarification Apperently there are many different types of pva so obviously a little care and reading the labels is called for.
I am glad you are both going to try it. I applied a second glaze last night and before I knew where I was it was 4 in the morning!
It feels so good the way the paint moves over the canvas and aids blending and subtle shading. I would point out though that you must keep your brush moist or you can feel a resistance building up when trying to stroke smoothly.
When I refer to cost of materials I mean that it is far cheaper to work with pva than pay for other mediums specifically designed for acrylic.
Apparently pva has been used quite a long time for collage work - for sticking tissue etc to an acrylic work. The polymers in the glue are compatible with those used in acrylic. Therefore in a way you are merely 'extending' the paint.
I will try and post back today with an update pic - in the meantime let me know if anyone has started a piece. Feel free to put a photo here and how you thought the paint worked.
It's going to be great if you all participate. :clap:

05-29-2004, 06:55 PM
I shall be up at the crack of dawn (well, quite early) tomorrow to experiment with this. I've got a huge bottle of PVA glue lurking somewhere in my studio, left over from my college (and collage) days.

Thank you for posting your experiences.


HRH Goldie
05-31-2004, 09:36 AM
Hello Annya glad you are going to try too :clap:
I was hoping that many more would have a bash and try this - I'm sure they'd be amazed at the results.
I've actually got another project to start so I won't be able to participate for a couple of days and I would really appreciate the people who are experimenting to keep this thread going.
If you could post updates and photos of your work. Also your opinions on the paint finish, manipulation on canvas etc.
Hopefully when I look back in in a couple of days you are all posting great pics :clap:

05-31-2004, 10:20 AM
Just to let you know:
1. plastics are not biodegradable

which in an environmentally safe and friendly sort of way is at least one good thing for artists.

If plastic has a 125,000 year half life...there's a good chance that acrylic paintings will be around for a very long time, or at least as long as the support which they are painted on.


HRH Goldie
06-01-2004, 07:20 AM
Thanks for the input Larry - much appreciated. :)

HRH Goldie
06-07-2004, 06:17 AM
Hi everyone,
Here is an update of the wine and glass - have tried to reshape glass as lady carol rightly pointed out the shape was wrong.
It was interesting to be able to still paint over errors without losing the opacity when needed.

Has anyone else got any photos to share yet???

06-28-2004, 03:33 PM
May I say how much I admire you for carrying out such an experiment under the public's gaze. One small thing puzzles me though, if the glue is white to start with and dries clear, does this mean that when it is mixed with a colour, the colour becomes lighter then dries to its normal shade?
Happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have.

06-28-2004, 10:06 PM
gotta be quick cause I need to run
However that last painting is fantastic!
I absolutely love it, the glass actually looks like a glass to me and that wine bottle is stunning, I actually feel I am looking at a real wine bottle and not a painted one!

I will give the PVA glue a try in a few days it sounds interesting!!

Great work!


06-28-2004, 11:39 PM
This sounds really intriguing. I only began painting just a little while ago using acrylics, but I found I preferred the way oils moved on the canvas, the way you can blend and mix right up there in the painting. And frankly I love the smells associated with oils, they somehow stir deep memories. Yet I can't lose the fascination with acrylics and I just spent a lot of money (relatively speaking :) ) on a small bottle of medium in an effort to make acylics behave more like oils. If PVA glue can do the job at less cost it's a real bonus. I'm another one who can't wait to get to the local hardware shop to buy some glue!

HRH Goldie
06-29-2004, 10:39 AM
John Ben and Ron, thank you for taking time to reply and I am thrilled you are all interested in this technique. I call it technique quite deliberately as I am way past experiment stage which I would say was a success.

John - if you liked adding medium then you should be thrilled at this one the technique and two the result. Just remember if brush gets a little sticky then just add water or dip brush in water sometimes is enough.

Ben- thank you for the positivity and I am sure you will love it too. If more people forgot about pva being a glue and classed it as a medium then I am sure they would too. I bet secretly you know, there are a lot out there read this and are trying it as we speak :evil: !

Ron -- great to hear from you. Yes I hear what you are saying and I have to say that adding any medium to paint by its very nature should 'dilute' the paint and therefore impact on its colour saturation and depth. However, I have noticed very little change if any in values in this and I used up to 50% pva 50% paint on some occasions.

I have to say that the artists colours are better or if you are using student then the darker pigments work particurlarly well. I did use however both and was well pleased with the result.

I have posted a 'snatched' final photo which is appalling in quality. This is because my Dad fell in love with it and had a spot marked in the house for it so it was out of the door as soon as it was signed lol!
The pic is framed and has glass and there is a lot of reflection so bottle looks misted. There is a reflection of an object between glass and bottle - this is not painted in. Also the glass looks far to bright and the wine falsely red because I think the flash did this. However you may get the picture and hopefully it will encourage to have a go.

Please post results here so we can compare and discuss findings. I think its hugely interesting and was only to delighted to try and save you all some money along the way. I think the cost of mediums is way over the top and makes painting in this way hugely expensive.
I'd like to see your pics John, Ben and Ron and if I can answer or try anything for you - I'd be delighted.
I have started another using pva - this time I am trying impasto but improvising on texture medium 'as ever :p ' by using tissue stuck down with pva.
I will let you know whether or not its a goer or not.

Good luck to you all with new endeavours.


Charlie's Mum
06-29-2004, 07:31 PM
Even photographed through glass it still looks good!
Just to add my twopenneth -
...way back in the dark ages when I was teaching, we used Marvin Medium - which is a kind of pva glue - as a medium to mix with poster paint and powder paint to give the effect of oil painting, from blending to impasto (you know how schools never have the money to buy good stuff!).
Being white, it did alter colour but then dried clear and the colour reverted to the original - this meant quite clever judging by the pupils, but they liked the experience and many became adept at using it!
Sorry if I'm repeating something which may have appeared earlier - I've just skimmed through!
Personally, I think many of the mediums offered are v. expensive, so anything which 'does the trick' more cheaply is welcome - we don't all have to be purists and I'm not interested in making work last for posterity!!!!!! - just long enough for people to enjoy!
Having been 'reminded' of this by this thread, I may well try it again! :D

HRH Goldie
06-30-2004, 02:29 PM
Thanks for that Maureen :D
There was me thinking I'd invented something as well ho hum.... maybe next time lol ;)

Great to hear that you are inspired too. I love the feel of the paint like this - it's exciting and the blend on the surface you are painting is terrific. Give it a go and see what you think.
Please feel free to post a pic - no-one else has boo hoo :crying: