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June 03, 2015

The Basics: Understanding Acrylic Mediums

I remember the first time I walk down the art isle of my local Michaels. I was completely overwhelmed and confused.  What the heck is gel medium and why are the paint colors so many different prices.

I think I ran right back to the craft paint isle. LOL!  Actually that is not true.  I purchased a few items and they sat in my craft room.  And they sat and they sat.

That was eight years ago.  

I am happy to say they are no longer just sitting my in craft room.  I am now a happy consumer of acrylic paints and mediums.  But it did take some work to get there.

If you have every spent any time in the art section of your local craft store then you know there are a lot of options to choose from.  Even more if you are lucky enough to have an actual art store nearby. (I am one of lucky ones and it is truly a little slice of heaven.)  And don't even get me started on online options....that will make you head spin.

To make matters worse it seems like every designer now has their own line of paint and mediums.  Even DecoArt (which mostly sells craft paints) has gotten in the game with their own line of mixed media products.  One's craft room could overflow with all of the possibilities.

So......Shirley and I decided it was time for us to do a workshop on acrylic mediums.  Come learn what each type of medium is for and which you may want to use on your next mixed media project or card or tag or scrapbook page and more.

Over four lessons we will demonstrate the pros and cons of 13 different acrylic mediums, additives, paint and applicators. We will explain how to use each product, how to apply it to various surfaces, possible substitutions for the product, and share our experiences with them.

This class was specifically designed with the crafter in mind.  We want you to feel comfortable using these fabulous products.  We also wanted to give a sneak preview of what we will be covering. (Actually all month long we will be giving you previews from lesson one.)

The video below is an intro to acrylic mediums.  It answers the questions:

  • What is an acrylic medium?
  • What are the different brands available?
  • What you can do with mediums and what you cannot do with them?
  • What is the difference between mediums and additives?

Warning: This video is a bit long.  Hey! I had a lot to share.  I did a quick recap below for your reading pleasure.

A quick recap for your reading pleasure.

What is an acrylic medium?
An acrylic medium is a mixture of water and acrylic polymer.  The acrylic polymer acts as a binder once the water has evaporated.  Water and polymer are kind of like water and oil in that they don't naturally want to stay mixed together.  So acrylic mediums also contain a chemical emulsifier to hold everything together.
They are the same material found in acrylic paints, but without the pigment.  They can be mixed with acrylic paints (but not oil paints) or other acrylic mediums to create a wide range of effects.
What is the difference between a medium and an additive?
Great question!  A medium changes the properties of the paint it is mixed with, such as making it more pour-able or more transparent.   It contains additional binders so you can mix any ration you want to and not cause instability. 
Additives change the chemical make-up of the paint, but contain NO additional binders.  So you have use them sparingly or risk having your paint not 'stick' to your project surface.  There are basically three types of additives: retarders, flow enhancers and gel thickeners.

Interested in learning more? 
Then join us for Mastering the Mediums.  Over four lessons we will explore 13 different mediums and additives.  In addition we will also discuss paint, applicators and brushes.  

By the end of the workshop students will:
  • Have a clear understanding what a medium is and how to use it.
  • Learn the differences between each medium.
  • Learn the difference between an additive and a medium.
  • Learn which mediums are most essential and which ones are just nice to have.
  • Test mediums using a variety of surfaces and applicators.
  • Understand how to use mediums with paint and other color mediums.
  • Create a sample book to future use.
  • Learn how to prep your surfaces before beginning your projects.
  • Create finished projects for each medium/additive. Projects will include mixed media projects, tags, art journaling pages and cards.

Or check out our brand workshop on Gesso.

Thanks for stopping by,

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