View Full Version : glazing into a "couch" of medium?

07-07-2007, 12:04 PM
Hi, I usually work with oils and post in the oils forum but recently have been experimenting with acrylics.
I'd like to know if a technique i use in oils is possible with acrylics. What i'm talking about is the painting into a "couch" of medium method, where you lay down a thin layer of oil on the surface of your support and then work thin layers of color into that layer.

I've found glazing with acrylics extremely frustrating so far, I can't seem to glaze and "feather" off the color at the edge to create subtle gradations. I've been using tri art liquid artist acrylics with their gloss glazing mediums with no success.

I've tried to lay down a thin layer of water/retarder and work my acrylic into that but it dillutes the pigment too much and I still dont have enough time to gradate the edges.

So I guess my main question is how do I glaze a color onto an area and make it "fade out" so that other colors can "fade in"? if this makes any sense :D

any ideas or suggestions would be great. thx


Lady Carol
07-07-2007, 02:14 PM
Hi Mike, try glazing medium. This slows the drying better than retarder or water. I prefer the Golden brand for this especially the Gloss acrylic glazing liquid.

07-07-2007, 04:44 PM
You can lay down a couch of medium and paint into it. It may take several layers though to get the look you want. The other ways are scumbling or drybrushing thin layers with which I am sure you are quite familiar. Welcome to the Acrylics Forum BTW and hope you share some of your acrylic work with us.

07-07-2007, 05:43 PM
even using water and glazing medium you need to work quickly, especially if trying to blend to large areas of color together. I think this speed is the major difference oil painters encounter when attempting acrylics

07-07-2007, 05:56 PM
Thx for the tips and welcome, I'm starting to think that the Tri Art gloss glazing medium i've been using isn't so great. When applied as a couch it becomes tacky immediately and I'm unable to move the paint on it. I'll have to try the Golden Brand.

The thinnest layer of water works fine but it evaporates so quick and it would probably take me 20+ layers to achieve full saturation. Maybe I can put a humidifier under my painting and work in the mist lol

They should create a "couch medium" specifically one that stays wet until it comes in contact with the paint! :D

07-07-2007, 06:01 PM
Hey Dreams :wave:
I keep trying to work faster and faster (coffee helps lol) but my layers are so thin, they dry up almost instantly. My retarder doesn't seem to retard anything either :confused:

07-07-2007, 08:50 PM
Keep a mist bottle handy too and spray your surface. I also try to dilute the glazing medium a tiny bit. I use Liquitex Glazing medium and love it, but you do have to work quickly and a small area at a time gradually working across the entire surface if your painting's very big.

Welcome to acrylics! I hope you'll come to love their versatility.

07-07-2007, 10:38 PM
I don't glaze all that much but I do a lot of dry brushing. I just havn't seen the need to glaze much and maybe I should but nevertheless I love the drying time of acrylics and if an area doesn't suit me I can just paint over it and go on. Thats something you can't do with oils. I have done paintings that most folks thought was in oil but it isn't and I have learned to get the gradation of tone but it's work to get it right, no doubt about that, and you have to keep it wet awhile. If you spray the canvas with a spray bottle, with a fine mist, then it gives you more time to work into the color and get the gradual gradation you want.

07-07-2007, 11:54 PM
you'll never get the same open time as with oils, which is actually what makes acrylics nice! If I want long open time I use oils, if I want to work quick (what I usually do) I use acrylics. Glazing medium, retarder, water, will help, but only so far.

If you're working with thin glazes I'd assume you work very detailed, in which case you do NOT want to spray/mist the paint on your canvas (you'll see the larger drops and they will remain visible). You can spray the back of the canvas quite a bit though, which does seem to help. Setting up a humidifier next to your canvas helps too (or paint in the bathroom and let the hot shower run, LOL). But it's close to impossible to get the same effects as with oils in acrylics, even at 100% humidity.

Actually, it would make either oils or acrylics a redundant medium, if they'd be equal :)

Have fun experimenting, just don't expect (or look for) oil like handling, you'll just get frustrated.

Very few people are able to achieve super smooth gradients in acrylics on a large scale. I have no idea how they do it, nor have I ever read an instruction or solution to this particular but major difference between oils and acrylics.

07-08-2007, 08:40 AM
One other nice way to create smooth areas of color with acrylics is to rub on the paint with a soft cloth...experiment with that and see what you think. You can create feathered edges with it too.

Lady Carol
07-08-2007, 09:52 AM
It may be the medium you are using. The smoothness of the effect will probably take several layers of paint, so be patient.

07-08-2007, 10:50 AM
Thx every1 for your responses. There's some great suggestions here. I think experimentation will be key. I'm gonna to try floading the back of a canvas and see what happens perhaps take it in the shower as well :lol:
I'm off to buy some Golden glazing liquid at my local Micheals store.
ooo rubbing the paint on with a soft cloth looks like a great idea too, thx Celeste!
Maybe someone who achieves super smooth gradients on a large scale will chime in and share their secret.
I guess i can always throw my acrylic paint in an airbrush ;)

07-08-2007, 11:50 AM
Maybe someone who achieves super smooth gradients on a large scale will chime in and share their secret.

You already know the "secret."

I think experimentation will be key.

I sound like a broken record when I remark that, "it's always puzzled me why people who want to work in different mediums want them to act like oils - or vice versa." It's my belief that the reason people choose to work in different mediums is for the very reason that they ARE DIFFERENT - both in the handling and the final results!


07-08-2007, 12:07 PM
I used to get my Goldens at Michaels but they dont seem to carry it anymore, luckily a local art supplie store does. I bought a small bottle of liquitex (all my local Michaels had) and I wasn't happy with it at all, even for a final coat because it felt draggy and seemed to streak to easily even when misted

07-08-2007, 12:41 PM
It is much trickier in acrylic than oil and you really have to adapt - work faster, use more than one method. As you say you may need 20 glazes to get the right saturation - that's precisely how I work. I glaze only with water, very little paint, and can take many many repeat layers to get the right coverage. There are two main benefits to this approach: 1. You can get completely blurred edges. Any heavier coverage and I almost always get some kind of edge. 2. You don't make the mistake of too much coverage, which of course with acrylics is deadly. You can't remove it.

In addition to water glazes I do a lot of dry brush/scumbling. Similar to the glazing I work with very very little paint and build up with several goes.

I originally worked in oils so understand your frustration. It's definitely a learning curve; remember you're just working in completely another medium! :D


07-08-2007, 01:57 PM
I have no idea whether this would actually work; mostly it's just me thinking out loud. But how would self-levelling gel work for such purposes?

Lady Carol
07-08-2007, 02:01 PM
self leveling gel will only give a flat surface. It won't solve the blending issue.

07-08-2007, 04:58 PM
self leveling gel will only give a flat surface. It won't solve the blending issue.Ah, okay. Good to know. I thought maybe the blending could take place on or in the gel before it dried, but as I said, just thinking out loud.