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Acrylic Paints And Mediums

Acrylic Paints And Mediums by Jill Saur

Walk into any art store and your head starts spinning from the array of choices in brands of paint, brushes, canvases and other misc. items.  Here's some great information for you on the professional quality acrylics that I personally use.

Acrylic paint dries far more quickly than oil paint.  It's important to squeeze out your acrylic paint on the Masterson Palette.  This specialized palette keeps the paint moist, extending the life of your painting time.


 Golden Acrylic Products

Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Paints
Those who know me, know that I LOVE GOLDEN HEAVY BODY ACRYLIC PAINTS!  As long as I've been working in the acrylic medium, this brand has been my favorite choice! Golden paints are buttery smooth, extremely high quality, and archival.  Golden paints contain no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners, or dyes.  Because some of the paints dry to a glossy finish and others dry to a matt finish, it is important to apply a final varnish when the painting is dry and completely cured.  This will ensure a uniform finish for the entire painting.  

Golden Heavy Body Acrylics retain excellent flexibility when dry, greatly diminishing the possibility of cracking that occurs in other natural and synthetic polymer systems. They also can absorb the constant stress and strain placed on canvas when it is shipped, or as it expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity.


Golden Open Acrylic Paints

Open acrylics are acrylics that have a longer blending time.  When painting, you can blend with these paints for about ten to fifteen minutes before they begin to get sticky.  In the sticky stage, they are starting to dry.  You can't go back into them until several hours later when they are completely dry.  Some people really love this paint because it gives them the feel of oil painting.  The benefit of this paint over oil is that the paint dries in about four hours instead of weeks or months.  

Open Acrylics are somewhat runny when you squeeze them out of the tube.  These paints are not suited for palette knife painting.  Instead, they are intended to achieve beautiful blending.

There's a big difference between Open Acrylic and regular Heavy Body Acrylic.  If you're not sure which one is right for you, get one tube of white and black in Open, and one tube of white and black in regular Heavy Body.  Paint two value paintings in each medium and see which type of paint you like the best.



Liquitex Acrylic Paints

Liquitex Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Colors are professional quality acrylics that have an exceptionally smooth, thick, buttery consistency, ideal for traditional painting and palette knife painting.  

A high pigment load produces rich, brilliant, permanent color.  When used for thick and impasto applications and techniques, Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics retain sharp brushstrokes and knife marks.

Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics remain flexible when dry, and thick films remain free of cracks and chips over time.  I use a number of liquitex colors in my palette.  They have some lovely colors that are not available in the Golden line.  Again, personal preference will guide your choices.  I have to grade Liquitex paint second to Golden.  However, several colors in their line are irreplaceable in my palette choice.


M. Graham Acrylic Paints

If you want to try some luxurious acrylic paint, pick up a few tubes of M. Graham's vibrant colors!  I'm  happy to see that Dick Blick Materials carries this paint.  It's priced about the same as Golden paint.

I've spoken with the owners of M. Graham & Co. and they're meticulous with the development of each one of their colors.  The texture of their paint is ultra smooth and the colors are robust, yet delicate.  M. Graham paints are made in America.   I'm going to put the quality of this paint on the same level as Golden, if not just a little bit higher.

Here's a quote from their website: "We select the finest example of every pigment from sources all over the world.  To most, this means they are the highest grease.  To us, it means they are the mot beautiful of their kind.  And, after going to such lengths to find them, we wouldn't dream of diluting them.  So, when we make color, we don't use fillers. We don't use extenders.  We don't use adulterants."


Gel Mediums

Gel mediums are used for impasto painting.  Impasto painting is a technique where you apply thick paint to the canvas, preferably with a palette knife, to build texture.  Palette knife painting is one of my favorite methods of applying paint.  The following mediums are among my favorites:

Golden Heavy Gel — Thicker in consistency than Golden Heavy Body Acrylic colors, these gels hold peaks and dries translucent. Blend them with colors to increase body.  It's available in Gloss, Matte, and Semi-Gloss.  This gel is ideal for use palette knife painting.


Golden High Solid Gel — The thickest of the gels, it holds high peaks, and is useful for simulating oil paint behavior. Contains less water and more acrylic solids, so it shrinks less than other gels.  This is also ideal for use in palette knife painting.




Varnishing a painting is important for several reasons.  First, a good varnish protects your artwork from ultraviolet rays and debris.  Secondly, when you've finished a painting, you may notice that some paint colors have left a sheen and others appear to have a mat finish.  Varnishing a painting ensures an even gloss, unifying the finish of the entire painting.  I use Liquitex Acrylic Varnish.

 Liquitex Acrylic Varnishes

Liquitex Acrylic Varnishes are made from 100% acrylic polymer emulsions and form durable films when dry. They have excellent flexibility and resistance to chemicals, water, and ultraviolet rays.  Acrylic polymer varnishes permanently adhere to the surface, and are not removable. If need to be able to remove the varnish at a later date, use a non-polymer varnish such as Liquitex Soluvar Varnish. Polymer varnishes are not for use with oil paintings.  

Liquitex Acrylic Varnish comes in four finishes.  Personal preference should guide your choice.

Gloss Varnish — This water-resistant varnish delivers permanent, highly-durable protection that is flexible and non-yellowing when dry. A 100% acrylic polymer varnish, Liquitex Gloss Varnish is water-soluble when wet and can be thinned. Non-removable.

Matte Varnish — This medium viscosity varnish provides a satiny, non-glare, low-sheen final coat that intensifies dull colors without drastically reducing color depth. A 100% acrylic polymer varnish, Liquitex Matte Varnish is water-soluble when wet and can be thinned. Non-removable.

High Gloss Varnish — This low viscosity, permanent water-based varnish produces a high-gloss, clear finish. Translucent when wet, and clear when dry, it increases the gloss, depth, and intensity of colors. 

Satin Varnish Final, clear, non-yellowing varnish has a satin finish. 




I had been using a popular brush soap to clean my brushes.  I read an article about this Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer and decided to give it a try to restore the brushes that the brush soap did not thoroughly clean.  

I took eighteen brushes that I had cleaned with brush soap for the duration of their use. Over a period of time, the paint at the base of the brush (that my brush soap didn't remove) hardened the bristles.  I soaked them in Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer.  This product is for brushes that have been used with acrylic and oil paint.  Look at the color of the restorer brush liquid that was dislodged from the brushes!  

This $16.00 16 oz. bottle of cleaner and restorer has saved approximately $800.00 worth of brushes!  Amazing!  Be sure to read the directions on the back of the bottle to determine how long you'll need to soak your brushes.

Dick Blick Art Materials carries this product.  You should be able to find it at other fine art stores.

Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer


Art Tote Bag:  This is the Pittman Field Bag.  It's made by Jerry's Artarama.  The Masterson Palette fits in a compartment under the bag!!!!  The bag is large enough to accommodate paint, brushes, palette, paper towels and lots of other things.  If you order it, be sure to just order the bag.  There is another price for the bag and a watercolor palette and that's more expensive.


In summary, I think you'll find that in the world of paint, you'll get what you pay for!  I always recommend buying art supplies that will set you up for success.  - Jill Saur


© 2013 - Jill Saur, Jill Saur Fine Art LLC.