View Full Version : Acrylics as watercolors

10-02-2011, 12:54 PM
I've been painting watercolors for a long time and know that you can use diluted acrylics the same way. Does anyone paint in this way regularly? Can I paint light to dark as in watercolor? Will I be able to feather edges a little better, or will I get the same harder edges I often get in regular acrylics?

Also, if anyone has any example paintings to show, that would be great.

10-02-2011, 01:44 PM
Painting thinly, diluted with only water is what I do mostly.
I make it like an inky consistancy and blend well colors.
Its kinda like glazing, applying layers and layers to get the tone/color or I like.
Practice with it is the only thing I can suggest and see how it works for you. yes painting light to dark works well.
examples...feel free to check out any of my postings of my paintings which include the wip. (Click on my name here in blue in this post and click view threads started by..) or my website.
good luck. Look foward to seeing your work.

10-02-2011, 06:45 PM
Thanks so much for the advice and the link.

However, not sure if I am brave enough to post my stuff yet.

But we'll see.

10-02-2011, 09:46 PM
Acrylics work very well in a watercolor style of thinned, transparent washes. However, there will be some differences in technique that you will have to adjust to.

When acrylics dry, they are permanent. That is, they can't be re-wetted or lifted like watercolors can. This is both good and bad. The good: you don't have to worry about lifting previous layers of color and getting them muddied up in the new layer you are trying to apply. You can glaze as many layers of new color as you like with no fear of disturbing the previous layers. The bad: You can't run a wet brush along a dried, hard edge and soften it or blend it out between colors. That must be done while it is still wet. You can't lift dried color out of an area with a wet brush. And acrylics dry really fast so you must work fast or work only in small areas that are easier to control. Also, if you have expensive sable watercolor brushes, acrylics can be very hard on them if you happen to allow some of the acrylic paint to dry on the hairs. This can be avoided, but most acrylic painters choose synthetic brushes to avoid this problem.

When I work with transparent washes of acrylic on watercolor paper, I often pre-wet the paper in the area I'm going to work on. I keep a clean, damp brush in my other (non-painting) hand so I can grab it quickly to soften and blend areas before the paint dries. A standard watercolor round brush can serve as this blending brush, but I find that soft, fine-haired filbert brushes are most useful for this task. As soon as I have made the softening, blending stroke with this brush, I rinse it immediately and keep it ready for the next time I use it.

One reason I especially love acrylics for this type of painting is that I can work from transparent washes to semi-transparent, to fully opaque passages in the course of working on a painting. This is how I do most of my acrylic work.

You are welcome to look at my paintings on my web site (sorry, it's undergoing some repair and reconstruction) to see how I use acrylics. I prefer to use fluid acrylics when I know I'm going to be doing a lot of transparent washes because they are already fairly thin and they dissolve smoothly.

Good luck!


10-03-2011, 01:19 PM
I use acrylics as watercolors all the time. I started with watercolor paint but I tend to layer [B]alot[B] and worried about the colors lifting. You can paint light to dark no problem... but you're not limited to that if you're using acrylics. I regularly add white at the end of the painting. Soft edges aren't difficult you just have to get them before the paint dries. I agree with BeeCeeEss about using fluid acrylics, the pigment load is also higher so they don't get so washed out

There are plenty of examples in my blog and a little write-up here...http://www.squidoo.com/making-your-painting-pop about revamping one of my 'stale' paintings. While not specifically about watercoloring with acrylics it definitely illustrates what can be done.

chammi kaiser
10-04-2011, 04:35 AM
I was also a watercolourist but now only paint line and wash in my sketchbook. I started off painting acrylics in a watercolour way and bought a book called ACRYLICS THE WATERCOLOUR ALTERNATIVE by Charles Harrington published by North Light Books. It is really helpful and has many demonstrations. Looking forward to seeing your work.

10-05-2011, 12:37 AM
GOLDEN Absorbent Ground is supposed to create porous surface to help create watercolor effect.

I am going to use this in my next painting.

10-05-2011, 10:12 AM
One of my best artist pals does huge watercolors (acrylic) that are just beautiful. The nice thing about the technique he says is the layering. I'm sure you would find lots of artists online who work this way.
good luck.