View Full Version : How do I slow down drying time?

05-26-2002, 07:26 AM
After years and years I've decided to make a medium change to Acrylics (from Watercolour) as I hae a hankering for strong, bold colour and textured brushwork. (And I'm sick of stretching paper - but will still do some WC work.)

I do almost all my painting Plein Air with some minor finishing work usually back in the studio.

Yesterday I sealed the masonite and applied a Raw Sienna 'wash' to provide a warm underpainted background in preparation for todays painting expedition; the first where I have taken acrylic out of the studio into the field.

I realise acrylic dries fast but found that the paint was drying/skinning on the palette within 10 minutes which was a bit wasteful and quite frustrating.

So, my questions:

(1) Is a liquifier or some such thing available to extend drying time? if so, how practical is it to use in the field?
(2) Is the best approach to lay out paint 'as I need it' rather than setting out the palette before I begin to paint?

When I get the camera working I'll post 'my first acrylic'.

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice

Mark (literal)

05-26-2002, 08:19 AM
Mark, you can get a special palette called a "Stay Wet Pallette", made expecially for acrylics. They have a sponge (which you wet) in the bottom. This is lined with special paper onto which you lay out and mix your colours. The pallette also has a lid, and when the lid is on, it will keep you colours wet, even from one day to the next.

05-26-2002, 08:22 AM
Thanks for the tip. I'll look into that (though I guess I could make one.... hmmm)

05-26-2002, 08:42 PM
Yes, literal, you can use several products to keep the acrylics on your palette wet while you work. Golden makes products just for this--I've forgotten the name of the one I use (I'll post that tomorrow after I've checked my studio) but you can add a drop to the top of each pile of paint on the pallette--it keeps it wet and blends right in when you touch your brush to it.

Or you can lightly mist the pallette with water every few minutes. I do this too and like it.

As for the stay wet palette, it is a good idea but I couldn't find one when I needed it so used a tortilla warmer. It is the perfect size to place a stack of paper plates inside. I put my paints on the top plate and keep the lid on as much as I can. The lid isn't air tight but keeps my paint workable until the next day most times. If I have more than one plate of colors to mix (like working with my warms for a while but want to keep them while I paint my cools), I just place #1 plate of color in the container with a clean plate upside-down over it and plate #2 of color on top of that. This also saves space while you are in the field.

A better improvisation would be a plastic, tight-sealing container, again the size for paper plates. (In case you haven't guessed, the plates act as my disposalbe palettes - I just throw out the top plate when my session is done--no messy clean-up!)

Personally I don't like en plein air for another reason--bugs!!

Good luck!

05-26-2002, 11:51 PM
Thanks... some great suggestions there. I hadn't considered paper plates but they'd be infinitely cheaper than waxed disposable palette's available from the art shop and do the same job.... great idea.

I'll make a point of getting down to the local plastic bargain basement and see what I can find to contain the whole shebang



05-27-2002, 04:54 AM
From a referal from another post some time ago, I visited the Liquitex web site and requested their free info, and have just recieved it. It contains much info about mediums that give just the kind of effects you (and I) have been looking for. I highly recommend it

05-27-2002, 11:35 AM
I have a demo on doing an acrylic....with methods similar to my use of oils..here on WC-

I find acrylics perfect suited for plein air, though 95% of my plein airs these days are oils. Easier to carry an acrylic out of the woods though!

For one thing...I paint on styrofoam plates with acrylics, and being nonporous, they do not suck up any of the moisture from the pigment.

Secondly...I paint in stages plein air, first ragging in or using a large brush blocking in the dark masses first, and darker value colors. Painting dark to light.

Knowing you are going to paint in stages...you learn to put your paint out in stages. Shadows...to midtones- foliage, etc., and lights/skies, etc;

Secondly, I use paints that are very convenient to grab and get paint from which doesn't impede my haste in capturing the sun's effect. I use Galeria 200ml...which is the nodule top. Grab, squeeze, paint. Grab, squeeze, paint.

You learn to paint so stinkin' fast with acrylics out of doors that in time drying is no longer an issue. Your instincts take over so no thinking slows you down.

I added Liquitex's Extender Gel medium, which used to be called "gelex" and it gives an oil-like texture and impasto effect.

One trick though I can offer which the styrofoam plates allow is when you take a break, walk away...or step back to look at your work.

I put a small used ice cream gallon pail next to me with about two inches of water in the bottom. Then, I turn the plate upside down and set it on top. The water in the pail puts enough humidity in the air environment within that pail that it keeps the paint nearly wet endlessly. I can walk away and come back 1-2 days later...and my paint is still wet and ready to use.


05-27-2002, 11:58 PM
Try Golden's Acrylic Glazing liquid---put a few squirts or maybe it's more, check with the people at Golden, I called them from a
number on their web site & they fellow I talked to said this would extend drying for up to 45 minutes! I never got around to trying it as I got involved with too many other mediums. But they make high quality products!

05-28-2002, 12:31 PM
If you just want to slow the drying on the support and the mixing part of the palette, then retarders works (but be careful with it as too much changes the consistence of the dry film), or any of the gel, gloss, or matte mediums produced will slow the drying time. I frequently mist my palette with water or a 50:50 blend of medium and water.

If you are trying to store paints for day to day painting then there are several possiblities. Stay wet palettes are great, but expensive. I use a shallow rubbermaid container (no scrimping here, you need a tight seal). I painted the bottom (outside) with white paint (I like a white palette), and glued sponges to the inside of the lid. By just keeping the sponges moist, and spritzing the paint with water the paint will start to mold before it dries out.

If I have a color mixed that is near tube consistency, I transfer it to a plastic dixie like cup, and ease a layer of water over the top, being careful not to mix them. I cover the cup with plastic wrap. I can keep paints workable over a month that way. I just decant the water, stir and go. Plastic film cansters would work too.

Hope this answers your question.

05-28-2002, 02:53 PM
Right on Andrew, I do the same with rubbermaid sealed containers and the paints last for many daze!!!