CREATIVE TECHNIQUES — Why choose Acrylics?

I choose acrylics for most of my experimental and textural work because acrylics are a forgiving medium. The ability to correct your errors with Gesso, Titanium white, or any gel is wonderful. It provides the artist with a feeling of adventure freedom that is quite intoxicating.

Gesso painting by Teyjah

Gesso texture: detail

Another wonderful quality of acrylics is that they can be mixed with other dry (eg. charcoal, pastel) or water-based media (eg. watercolors, inks) to produce unique combinations and surfaces. For instance, you might mix Light Molding Paste with purified sand. I also love the color vibrancy I obtain from using Golden acrylic paints as they are created with pure pigments.

Challenges of Working with Acrylic Gels

Freedom Flight required some thought as to the type of surface necessary to support its huge amount of acrylic gel. Canvas was not an option as the gels would prove too heavy for it. The canvas would literally cave in from the weight. That’s why I chose a wooden panel.

This choice, however, demanded one other consideration: how to treat the wood. Because the various gels I used needed to be built up no more than 1/4” at a time and would have to be on the wood surface for quite a while, a problem called “Support Induced Discoloration” had to be addressed.

Keeping the color clean is important. If you don’t protect the wood, you get a yellow tinge all over your top surface.

Because acrylic gels are thicker and take longer to dry than simple acrylic polymer medium (which is used to thin down or extend paint) the gels have more time to pick up impurities from the wood pulp and transfer them to the top layer of the gel. Common supports (e.g. cotton canvas, linen, masonite) also contain water-extractable materials that can cause discoloration with transparent glazes. All acrylic gels have this problem.

The solution to minimize this Support Induced Discoloration (S.I.D.) effect is to use a product from Golden Artist Paints named GAC 100 or 700 (harder surface but more foaming) and prime the support with two coats of either one of these products. Then I recommend putting on a couple of coats of Gesso (chalk mixed with acrylic) to help with paint adhesion. Once you’re ready with these preparations, paint away!

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