View Full Version : Arrrggh! How do I blend these?

02-10-2008, 06:50 PM
Having some blending "issues," and would love some advice. Have done a bunch of searches and have picked up some helpful techniques, but I'm still having a bit of trouble.

I attached some close-ups of the reference that I'm working from.

Which technique do you think would be appropriate to achieve this effect (along with practice practice practice, I know...)?

I've tried scumbling, which seems to look to make it look less "fluid" than I'd like,
and I've tried wet into wet, doing two colors side by side and using a clean damp brush in the middle to join them, but this doesn't seem to do it either).

02-10-2008, 06:55 PM
They do dry very quickly and are somewhat difficult to blend. My only suggestion is to work in a very small area and blend as you go. Sorry to hear the wet into wet or scumbling process didn't work for you. You will probably have to experiment to find what works best for you. Sorry I cant help further.

02-10-2008, 06:56 PM
Other than scumbling, dry brushing, and wet/wet blending, you could try a retarding medium . . . or really, really tiny brushes ;)

Oh, you can also use transparent glazes to visually blend, too.

02-10-2008, 09:22 PM
What type of surface are you painting on? Gessoed canvas? Watercolor paper? Illustration board? What kind of paints are you using?

The type of surface makes a big difference for me in the blending techniques that I use. I like to work on watercolor paper or watercolor canvas--both are absorbent surfaces and work well with watercolor techniques as well as opaque painting applications.

To get the effect shown in the reference samples, I would work with wet-into-wet washes of color. I use fluid acrylics which can be thinned down into transparent washes very easily. I pre-mix the colors I plan to use. Then I use plain water to pre-wet the small area I'm going to work on. I paint into the dampened area with fairly strong washes (because the wet surface will dilute them somewhat) and then use a clean, damp brush to quickly tease out soft edges. That is, I use the clean, damp brush to drag out the color into the clear, wet part of the paper or canvas until it disappears in a soft, smooth blend of color. I have found that soft, synthetic filbert brushes are very helpful for doing this sort of blending. I usually keep the clean, damp one ready in my left hand while I'm painting with the brush in my right hand. That way, I can quickly swap brushes and do the softening and blending with the damp filbert brush while the paint is still moist.

You can do something very similar on a non-absorbent surface like a gessoed canvas or other painting surface. But you might need to combine some medium with your water to do the pre-wetting of the surface, then paint into it with full strength paints (not washes) and blend out soft edges as I described above. I find using either glazing medium or soft gel medium for the pre-wetting very helpful. It takes a bit of practice and I try to keep my working areas small so I can do the blending I want before things start drying and getting tacky.

Adding some flow release (also called flow aid) to your water will also help your paints disperse more easily and smoothly.

Scumbling works well for soft blends and so does dry-brushing, but they can look rather rough and grainy. If you are looking for a much smoother blending effect, you'll probably want your paints to be more fluid.

I know there are other methods. You'll have to decide what works best for you. But I hope these suggestions help a bit.


02-10-2008, 09:42 PM
I would try mixing retarder into the lighter or base cover and cover the surface with that and keep a mist bottle handy, then squirt your darker color directly onto the canvas and quickly spread it out. You can add more dark as needed and use the now dirty brush to apply in other areas.

02-10-2008, 10:02 PM
Try this. I hope this is the look your going for. Go to creative Cataylst website www.ccpvideos.com (http://www.ccpvideos.com) Then click on "by Artist" and scroll down to Bette Ridgeway under acrylic paint videos. Shes call her technique of painting "pouring" Her work is marvelous and will give you that Mixed look. Hope this helped you. I have purchased from ccp and they are really good.

P.s. Please let me know if this helped or if you were able to figure it out, it would be neat to know. Thanks:clap: good luck!

02-10-2008, 10:18 PM
Liquitex makes a blending medium, Golden may also have one. Liquitex has a wetting spray that seems to really prolong the drying time Might also consider that at some point. Sometimes it takes several applications and layers to get where you want to go.

02-10-2008, 11:02 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone!
BeeCeeEss, it's gessoed canvas (and not a very smooth one, I must say...I got a bit lazy with gesso/sanding), and I'm using liquitex heavy body paints and some golden blending medium.

I think maybe a good idea would be to try some of these different ideas on a piece of scrap canvas, and then compare the techniques, so maybe that's what I'll do. The nice thing about this painting is that the majority of it black and white and shades of gray, so I don't have to worry tooo much about color mixing.

Thanks for the great ideas, I'll give it a shot!