My two favourite mediums that I use come from the Atelier Interactive range. I quite like that range because it is designed to “stay open longer”. This means that if you spray the paint with a light fine mist of water then the paint stays wet and “open”, ready for blending.
I really like the Atelier Interactive Clear Painting Medium, and also their Gloss Varnish.
Never use Varnishes as Mediums
As soon as you see the word varnish your warning bells should be going off. Here’s why:
“Medium” means a substance that can be mixed in with the paint, or used as a layer in the middle of the paint layers.
“Varnish” means the final coat over the painting which protects it forever from the elements (dust, acid, oil, etc) and makes it safe to clean without damaging the painting. You must never paint over a varnish as the paint will peel off, since the varnish is designed to resist everything that lands on it.
Usually you should never paint over the top of a finishing varnish.
But in the case of the Atelier Gloss Varnish, the fluid has been designed to use as a medium in the middle of layers of your paint, so it’s no problem. Remember this is ONLY true when we are talking about the Atelier Gloss Varnish (formerly known as Gloss Medium & Varnish). No other brands or bottles! Don’t use a gloss varnish from any other brands – you WILL be using a real varnish and you must never paint over the top of that.
The Gloss Varnish was previously named Gloss Medium & Varnish. But on the new bottle it actually states “May be painted over” which means it’s a medium rather than a varnish. They should have left the name as it was. I like to think of it as Gloss Medium for Glazing.
For more information on varnishing as the final layer of protection over finished paintings, check out my other post: All About Varnishing.
White Becomes Clear
Both of my favourite mediums are white in liquid form, but they dry completely clear on the painting. For this reason they can both be used for glazing (see next week’s post).
These two bottles of medium each act very, very differently.
My Slow Medium
Clear Painting Medium (let’s just call it CPM) is a medium that is much slower to dry. It is more creamy than runny, much easier to use on a vertical canvas. This medium has a more matte appearance when dry, it mimics the normal Atelier Interactive paints out of the tube in its surface sheen.
My Fast Medium
Gloss Varnish (let’s just call it GV) is a very fast drying medium. It is also very runny and is prone to dripping down the canvas if you paint with it vertically. I often lay the painting flat when using this medium so I can get enough on without it running off the canvas. This medium has a really glossy finish when dry.
Fast v Slow
I usually label the top of each bottle with a black marker in big letters: FAST (for the GV) and SLOW (for the CPM) to remind me of the difference.
It also reminds me to be religious about washing my brush out regularly, quickly and thoroughly when using the GV. It dries so fast that it can dry in the base of your brush bristles if you don’t wash it out every now and then.
You can use the GV as a temporary varnish to even up the gloss over a finished painting. This is useful if you need a good finished look but the paint has not fully cured yet ready to use a solvent varnish final finishing varnish coat.
Speeding up the Drying
Both mediums can be dried with a hair dryer to speed up the drying time. Keep checking by touching the paint to see if it is dried thoroughly.
It is essential to dry each layer thoroughly before glazing over again so you avoid getting muddy colours.
What I use each of them for
I use GV when I want to do a quick glazing coat that I want to dry really fast, ready to go onto the next layer. I make sure I clean the brush quickly!
I use CPM when I want to work more slowly and I when I want to do some blending of the colours over bigger areas. The paint will stay damp for longer when mixed with CPM. CPM is also good for transparent glazing layers, so long as you are a little more patient than I am – you will have to wait for it to dry or use a hairdryer for a long time over it to force it to dry.
Learn all about using transparent layers in our other post on Glazing with Acrylics.
To learn more about how to use these mediums, come and join us in our Learn to Paint Classes.
Have you used any acrylic mediums lately? What have you discovered?