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Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make Acrylics Look Like Oil

My painting career has been filled with doubt about whether I should paint with oils or acrylics.  I happen to like both and have worked with both successfully.  Oils are so rich and buttery, but they take at least a few days or weeks to dry (even when mixed with alkyd mediums).  Acrylics, when used thickly, take no more than a few hours or overnight to dry enough to varnish, pack and ship.  Sometimes, though, acrylics can look a bit harsh or "plastic" because they are plastic.  
So that's my dilemma.  I paint with the idea that each painting will find a new home fairly rapidly.  I have to ship most of my paintings to my customers.  Time is of the essence.  I routinely use acrylics as my go to medium.  BUT I still want that rich, buttery oil look!  Agh!
I finally came across a tip that has helped me achieve the look I want.  I put 20 drops of acrylic retarder in a small 2 ounce spray bottle filled with water.  I shake it up well and use it to spritz my canvas and the paints on my palette (make it moist, not drippy).  This keeps the paint application flowing well so I can blend and soften edges as needed.  I use heavy body acrylic paint, usually Golden brand.  Then I add thick gel medium as well as acrylic retarder to my paint to make the paint nice and impasto thick.  I use bristle brushes and palette knives to apply paint just as I would with oils.
Take a look below at Daffodil Surprise detailed photosThis is a recent acrylic painting that I completed using exactly the technique described.  Looks like an oil painting.  Dry as a bone and ready to go!
Daffodil Surprise detail showing thick paint

Daffodil Surprise detail showing soft edges on right

Daffodil Surprise detail showing thick vigorous brushstrokes

Copyright Mona Vivar, Daffodil Surprise, 14 inches by 11 inches, acrylic on canvas
Now available in my Ebay store at Mona Vivar Fine Art

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