Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that many artists love to use. Not only does acrylic paint come in a wide variety of vibrant colors, but there are also a number of acrylic mediums that can be used to change the paint in different ways. For example, there are two ways in which you can thin acrylic paint to create a unique visual effect.
Why Should You Learn to Thin Acrylic Paints?
What many artists love about acrylic paint is that it is consistent in both color and application when properly shaken or stirred – it also gives you good brush control. But there are times when acrylic paint taken straight from the bottle is not ideal for the visual effect you hope to achieve.
For example, acrylic paint is fairly thick so it can build up quickly on the surface of your canvas or paper. If you want to layer different colors in multiple coats, you may need to thin the paint a little bit. Fortunately, thinning acrylic paint is very easy and you can do it with two different things – water or acrylic medium.
Using Water to Thin Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint taken straight from the bottle is fairly thick, so it usually sits on top of whatever surface you are painting – this gives is a glossy or semi-glossy appearance. If you want the paint to sink into the surface, giving it a more matte appearance, you can thin it with a little bit of water. Water actually breaks down the binders in acrylic paint in a way that makes it look like watercolor rather than traditional acrylic.
The amount of water you add determines the visual effect. Adding up to 30% water makes the paint thin enough to spread but it still coats the surface. If you add 60% or more, the paint becomes very watery (this is called a wash) so that it can be rubbed into an absorbent surface and only a hint of the color will remain – this is called a stain.
Thinning Acrylic Paint with Acrylic Medium
The second option for thinning acrylic paint is to use an acrylic medium. By using acrylic medium you can thin the paint so that it is easier to spread and it has a bit more flow to it, but it still sits on top of the surface and has a rich, glossy appearance. The amount of acrylic medium you add will determine the visual effect.
Adding up to 30% acrylic medium will thin the paint but it will still be thick enough to coat the surface while adding 60% or more turns the paint into more of a glaze, creating an almost transparent wash of color.
The beauty of acrylic paint is that it is versatile enough that you can thin or thicken it according to your needs. Keep in mind, however, that acrylic paint dries fairly quickly so if you are trying out a new method, practice on a spare canvas or piece of paper before you commit yourself. With time and practice you can master the art of thinning acrylic paint and you will be amazed at how it can transform your work!