View Full Version : Retarding acrylics

11-11-2010, 12:13 PM
I use to add sugar to my watercolrs when I was painting french mats to prevent them from drying too fast and it would eliminate the hard edge. Could I use the same in a mister to retard the drying time for acrylics?

11-11-2010, 02:10 PM
I have never liked to use retarder with my acrylics. I hate the way it makes the paints feel as I'm trying to spread and blend them. There is also the problem of using too much retarder, as already mentioned above.

There are some other products that I find helpful in giving me a bit more blending time with acrylics:

Golden's Open Medium and Open Gel Medium.

I've tried their Open line of paints and find them somewhat helpful but they have a rather weak pigment load. I prefer to use regular acrylics for their great pigment load. The Golden company has said that you can mix their Open paints and mediums with regular acrylic paints so I tried just using their mediums with my regular acrylic paints and they work very nicely. I can vary the amount of the medium to get the effect I want. They do help extend the blending time a bit (but don't expect miracles--it is still an acrylic product).

Another helpful product is Liquitex Slow Dri Blending Medium. It is very similar to Golden's Open Medium (more a fluid than a gel) and works in a similar way.

As with most acrylic mediums, the more you mix into your paints, the more transparent the paints will become.

You can try brushing a light layer of these mediums onto your painting surface and painting directly into it. It helps extend the blending time. Or you can mix the mediums directly into your paints to give them a bit more working and blending time.

Alas, like so many oil painters who have tried to make the transition to acrylics, there is nothing that I've ever tried that will make acrylic paints behave like oil paints. I've had to adjust my working methods over the years to adapt to acrylics and to discover what works best for me. There is always a wealth of good advice to be found here on Wet Canvas.

Hope that helps.


11-11-2010, 02:16 PM
That thread you posted this to originally was nine years old (!) and almost all the posters are no longer active on the site, so I've moved your question to its own thread. It's almost always best to start a new thread rather than tack a question onto the end of an existing thread, especially if it's not currently active.

I don't think a sugar solution would be ideal to mist over acrylic paints to slow the drying. Acrylics can already be prone to growing mould and this could well make it more likely.

There are many commercial retarders and mediums with some retarding property that would be safer bets. However many of these work best when blended with the paint. With straight retarder, the blending should be done thoroughly and the amount controlled because too much can cause problems (including at worst that the paint won't ever dry properly).

There are lots of prior threads that mention retarders if you'd like to read up a bit more.


11-11-2010, 02:23 PM
Try Interactives, or Golden Opens. They allow wet-on-wet very nicely.

11-11-2010, 03:51 PM
Sarkana I agree with Diane, great tip on retarders I'm going to use it as my paintings dry too fast which here in Florida is a reall problem at least for me. Thanks a lot to Beverly too and the others who offered advice as well.

11-11-2010, 09:22 PM
I ordered a bottle of Acrylic Glazing Liquid but have not used it yet.
It is a mixture of acrylic polymers, retarder and water, and also has Acrylic flow release in it.
It says to expect about 30 to 45 minutes working time.

I agree that 30 to 45 minutes of working time is a VERY generous estimate. Perhaps they mean if you mix the glazing liquid with colors on your palette that they will remain moist and usable for that amount of time. My experience with using glazing liquid is that you paint in thin layers with it, allowing each to dry completely, then applying another layer, etc. building them up until you get the effect you desire. These thin layers of paint and glazing liquid do not stay wet for very long, however. But I often work on watercolor paper when glazing, so I would think the effects on a nonabsorbent surface would be very different.

I have found that acrylic paint manufacturers sometimes advertise their paints as having an "extended working time", but what they mean is that the paints stay wet on the palette longer, not that they remain moist and blendable on the painting surface longer. I believe Winsor & Newton Finity paints used to be advertised this way.

You can mix it 1:1 with most colours and still remain opaque.

Mmmm.... I don't think they'll really be opaque when mixed with that much glazing liquid, but perhaps the most opaque colors will hold up that well. Some colors are certainly more opaque than others. Ideally glazing with paints is supposed to build up multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of paint so that the light will pass through the different layers and give a beautiful, luminous depth to the colors that can't be achieved any other way. Gloss glazing liquid combined with strong transparent colors like the Quinacridones or Phthalos can create absolutely gorgeous, rich passages of color.

I had a choice of gloss or satin.

The satin glazing liquid will give effects that are a little more subdued, but still very nice. If you don't want your painting to be too shiny, this is the way to go.

Golden has a great site. With lots of information on this and other 'stuff' :)


I love Golden's products. They are top quality and I've always been pleased with them.

I recall reading some previous posts in this forum that Golden suggested mixing some of their glazing liquid with a bit of their Open medium to combine the best of both products. I meant to try that on my next painting but forgot all about it. Your post here reminded me about it. It sounds very interesting.


11-12-2010, 06:14 AM
For anyone brave (or at least less fussy about these things than me) something I found with a very long open time is Daler Rowney's acrylic screenprinting medium. I bought a giant bucket by mistake thinking it was regular medium. It takes *forever* to dry.

Now I have no idea what the make-up of it is except that it is D-R and is stocked with the acrylic paints in the shops here. It's most likely perfectly safe with paint but no guarantee.


11-13-2010, 05:30 AM
Maybe give the Golden Open acrylics a try. It stays "wet" for quite some time and the somewhat reduced pigment load is often no problem but even helps when you want somewhat lower chroma paintings. Use some Open medium and/or thinner as well, not just water.

regards, Walter