Acrylic Additives vs Mediums

Hey guys! So I just realized something…lately I’ve been talking a lot about mediums I like to use and additives and how to avoid the biggest mistake acrylic painters make, and I’ve just realized that I don’t have a dedicated blog post to sharing the difference between additives and mediums!! What??? What am I doing with my life?

I thought for sure I had written about this before, but apparently I haven’t.  I’ve touched on various mediums to prime and finish your work and types of acrylic paint, but not exactly what the difference is between additives and mediums. I explain the differences in my Acrylic Painting for Absolute Beginner’s Ebook, so perhaps that’s where I feel like I’ve written about this before.

So enough rambling! Let’s get on with the difference between additives and mediums once and for all!

What's the difference between acrylic additives and mediums?

If you’re interested in checking out any of the mentioned mediums or additives in this post, I’d greatly appreciate you clicking the affiliate links I’ve included to Amazon to help support this blog at the same time, thanks!

I’m going to try to keep this as short and sweet as possible.  Let’s take a moment to think about what makes up acrylic paint.  Acrylic paint is basically pigment (the color) mixed with a vehicle to deliver the pigment to the surface we’re painting on.  In acrylics, that vehicle is a polymer structure that dries to a plastic-like finish.  It’s this vehicle, or “glue” that holds the pigment, that gives acrylics their signature sturdy composure.  When acrylics are fully cured they’re flexible, crack-resistant, dirt-resistant, and waterproof. It’s the polymer structure that gives it these properties.

So mediums that we use to change the texture or fluidity of our paint have their own structure.  An acrylic medium is basically the same polymer vehicle that makes up acrylics, without the pigment.  In place of the pigment, we have other materials that give us the effect we want (ground pumice stone in pumice gel, that stringy texture in clear tar/string gel, or even just more of the polymer vehicle in heavy gel).

Golden's Heavy Gel, a medium for increasing the thickness of your paint.
Golden’s Heavy Gel, a medium for increasing the thickness of your paint.

So to sum it up, acrylic mediums are composed of the same “glue” that holds the paint together.  This is why we can use acrylic mediums in unlimited quantities, and mix them with each other in whatever ratios we want without changing the integrity of our painting.

Additives, on the other hand, are something completely different.  Acrylic additives do not contain the polymer structure within them, so by adding them to our paint, we’re diluting the “glue” that gives our paint its strength.  Adding too much additive can create gaps between the polymer structures, preventing them from meshing together in their strong formations when cured.  This means that if too much additive is used with out paint, our painting has the risk of cracking in the future, or even not fully curing at all and remaining in a horrible tacky consistency forever!

Acrylic Flow Release
Acrylic Flow Release, an Additive

So how do we know how much additive is too much? It will tell you on the container.  Just be sure to follow the directions and not use too much. Additionally, you can mix your chosen additive with a medium that works well with it, so you’re basically adding some “glue” to the additive.  I personally like to mix in a bit of glazing medium with my flow release additive that I add to my misting bottle for spraying my paint to make it run down the canvas.

So there it is, guys! The difference between acrylic additives and mediums.  Both are great and can really help you express yourself with acrylics, as long as you know what you’re using and how to use it.  Leave me a comment below if this post helped you, and thanks for stopping by! Till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

What's the difference between acrylic additives and mediums?

An Acrylic Painting for Beginners Tutorial Round-Up!

free online acrylic painting lessons

Hi friends! Happy Monday! Today I wanted to do another little post round-up, similar to the watercolor tutorial round-up I’ve already done.  My goal for these types of posts is to bring light to older tutorials that may be lost in the archives of this blog, so newer readers can enjoy, and maybe my current readers can still enjoy if they haven’t seen something yet on this list.

So let’s get to it! Here’s my list of my favorite/best free acrylic painting tutorials from my archives:

Types of Acrylic Paint – craft, student, artist/professional? What’s the difference? Read this post to make an informed decision on which paints are right for you and your current skill levels.

Acrylic Mediums for Priming and Finishing – Gesso and Varnish, do I need them, and how to use them??

How to Mix Skin Tones – This video is very old, and the lighting is terrible (it was one of my first YouTube videos, before I got proper filming lighting), but the information is still solid, so it’s worth a watch if mixing skin tones with acrylics confuses you. As a head’s up, I am planning on redoing/refilming this tutorial, so stay tuned to this blog for an upgrade to this post!

How to Mix Common Paint Colors – read this post before you buy another tube of paint! Maybe you already have what you need to mix it yourself?

The Right Way to Start a Painting – before you start painting on your blank canvas, here’s the secret to a more professional look.

Shiny Ball Syndrome – a common ailment of beginner painters.  Adding too much highlight, too soon in your painting, can be a recipe for disaster. Here’s how to resist the temptation!

How to Wire Hang a Canvas – got your painting finished, but not sure how to get it on your wall? Here’s how to wire hang a canvas! (It’s easy, I promise!)

Acrylic Painting Glossary for Beginners – are you hearing words being used by artists and other art tutorials makers that have you a little confused? Here’s a list of acrylic painting words that beginners may be a bit fuzzy about.

How to Stop Acrylic Paint from Drying – prevent acrylic paint from drying too fast both on your canvas and your palette.

The Ugly Painting Phase – acrylics are all about layers, and sometimes it can be disheartening to see your painting in an “ugly” state.  But have faith and keep going! Hopefully this post will give you a little inspiration and open your eyes to the reality of what those first layers of a painting really look like.

Full Length Beginner Acrylic Painting Tutorial – Juicy Pear – a full length, step-by-step acrylic painting tutorial video where I walk you thought the painting process of painting a pear in still life.  Learn about grounds, underpainting, layering, blending, glazing, and bit of color theory as we go! Yes it’s free! Go watch it! 🙂

How to Transfer a Drawing to Canvas – using Photoshop, I’ll show how I resize my sketchbook drawings to scale them to large canvases, then physically transfer my drawings onto canvas, ready for painting!

So there they are, friends! My most popular/best free acrylic painting tutorials from my archives. I hope these are helpful to you, leave me a comment if they are, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

FULL LENGTH Beginner Acrylic Painting Lesson: Juicy Pear Still Life

Hi friends! Today I’ve got another FULL LENGTH acrylic painting tutorial! We’ll learn to paint this pear together step by step, and I’ll give some reasoning for the choices I’m making along with a bit of color theory and acrylic painting techniques as we go along.

So grab your brushes and let’s go! Here’s your list of resources:

Download the reference picture by clicking here! (It’s sized to perfectly fit an 8″x8″ canvas, but you can resize it if you need to).

Not sure how to transfer your drawing to your canvas? Check out this video!

Paint list (hopefully you already have a few of these):

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Azo Yellow Medium
  • Naples Yellow
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Umber
  • Mars Black
  • Payne’s Grey
  • Titanium White
  • Vivid Lime Green (you could also mix a bright green using Pthalo Blue (green) and Cadmium yellow light).

Brushes & Extras:

So that’s it! I hope you enjoy, leave me a comment if you did, thanks for watching!

-Ashley <3

**Please note that this post contains an affiliate link to Blick Art Supplies, and if a purchase is made through that link, I will receive a small comission of the sale.  This is of no extra cost to you, and it helps me keep this site running and the free painting lessons coming, so thanks so much for your support! <3

Free Full Length Tutorial & Planning! WIPs This Week

Hi friends! Happy Fri-yay! Is it really Friday already?? Today I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to this week!

First, in my stationery store I released a new Boho Geometric sticker set to fit the Happy Planner. My stationery store right now is focused on planner inserts and stickers, but very soon I will be expanding it to include greeting cards (including Pupcake birthday cards!) and more decorative stickers (not just ones that are for planners). So stay tuned and I will keep you guys updated here on this blog when I have added more to the shop that you might be more interested in! (My long-term plans for the stationery shop is to carry greeting cards, notebooks, stickers, and other stationery things in addition to the planner inserts and stickers, but I’m focusing on one thing at a time).

Ultimately I want this site to carry my art prints and tutorials/ebooks/classes and my stationery shop to carry other things with my art on them, like greeting cards and stickers.

So in other news I painted and filmed a new full length step-by-step painting tutorial! This one will be a little more advanced than my other beginner painting projects, but it’s still totally doable for beginners. Here’s the finished painting on my easel:

pear acrylic painting tutorial
A juicy pear!

I’m going to edit it next week, so it’ll be up for next Saturday. Tomorrow’s video is going to be another Zentangle for Beginners tutorial, so I hope you’re looking forward to it!

I’ve also planned out my next ebook, and will begin on the painting for that next week. I have all of the sections planned out, so once I have the painting finished it should come together fairly quickly. I’m aiming to have it done by the end of this month.

So that’s it for now, guys! Have a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

4 Mixed Media Art Techniques You May Not Have Tried Yet

Hi friends! Happy Monday! Today I wanted to share a few cool techniques I found while browsing through Pinterest over the weekend.  These techniques are really interesting, pretty simple, and can bring some variety to any mixed media work. Click on the pictures to be taken to their sources where you’ll find the full instructions. Happy creating!

Feather Stamping

This technique by uses a real feather to transfer it’s imprint onto paper.  This would look great as wall art on its own, or as part of a collage or art journal page.

mixed media feather

Bokeh Watercolor Tutorial

I think this is really awesome. Bokeh is the blurry, magical-looking effect photographers add to photographs.  You’ve probably seen this effect in Instagram pictures, as there’s a bunch of apps out there can do this to a photo for you.  But this technique by Mary Ellen was made using watercolours, and it’s a great background for card making, art journals, or even to write an inspirational quote over top. With a beautiful background like this, the possibilities are endless!

bokeh art technique

Textured Aluminum Art

This tutorial by The Scrapbook Tree uses aliminum foil to add texture toa mixed media background.  The intent of the tutorial is to create a textured background for a scrapbook layout, this this technique would be a great idea to use on canvas to add bulk and texture without the weight, and without wasting your molding paste or other acrylic mediums!

using aluminum foil to make texture in mixed media art

Credit Card Art

This technique by Housing a Forest uses old credit card to spread paint across a surface and create interesting effects. The tutorial is geared towards a kid’s art session, but by switching the palette to more sophisticated colours and adding in some extra acrylic mediums for variety, this technique can easily be adapted for a more mature painting session. (Or it can give your little ones something to do while you paint, too!)

credit card mixed media art

So that’s it for now, guys! I hope these techniques have sparked an interest in you, and maybe given you some ideas for your next project! Be sure to visit these linked websites, as they’re full of great art ideas. Leave me a comment below if you’ve tried any of these techniques before, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3