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Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Lesson 4 of 13

Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

4. Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:05:14
2 Materials for Acrylic Paints Duration:08:30
4 Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums Duration:19:56
6 Demo: Brushes for Acrylics Duration:15:05
7 Surfaces for Acrylic Paints Duration:19:15
8 Demo: Gesso a Surface Duration:09:13

Lesson Info

Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums

So, the other thing I wanna talk about is, you know, we have different types of media, and then... Or mediums. I don't know if you pluralize it media, mediums. You have the matte medium, you have acrylic medium, and acrylic gloss medium, and you have your retardant, and I'm just gonna pull those in here. So, what are these things for? Let me just move the paint out of the way. So, the medium is supposed to act like the water acts. It moves the color around and allows for greater transparency of a color. It's particularly good for glazing. So, if we think about it that way, let's try doing some glazing. What's the difference between matte, what's the difference between gloss? Matte means it's literally not shiny and gloss means that it is shiny, and they look very similar to each other. They're kind of... They're sort of white. Let me just pull that, open this. So, they don't... It looks like it has a color, but actually, it dries clear, perfectly clear. And we'll open this one. And aga...

in, you wanna keep these jars of what's called the medium, gloss medium or matte medium, as tightly sealed as you possibly can because this stuff is plastic, and when it dries, it'll harden. If I left this to open air for a couple days, it would get thick and you wouldn't wanna use it. So, these are the two typical types of mediums that you might use. Actually, I do wanna mention something before we move on. In addition to the little studies I did before, I just wanna show you some color charts that some of my students did. I have two of them. One has more opaque color, which means there's more white in it, and one is a little more transparent and used with a brush stroke that you can see. But what I wanted you to see with this is that, and this is something I recommend no matter what medium you use, I think you should have a chart that experiments with all the different colors that you've purchased, you label them on the side, and then you cross pollinate them just like a math chart, a really simple math chart where you've got lemon yellow and cobalt blue, and what is the color that they make? And the reason why I recommend you do this for any kind of medium whether it's colored pencils or watercolor or acrylics is that you're getting to know the colors that you're using. If you've never used acrylics, this is really a helpful way to go. So, I find if I have a color chart and I use... And I did this just to test and experiment for this series of courses, I made color charts with just everything so that I could see what kinds of colors and the quality of the color that I would make when I'm combining different basic colors in my palette. And once this is finished, this is a really good reference tool. I used my color charts forever until I really started to remember the colors. It's hard to remember colors, but I know what combinations make what. But I still love to have my color chart stuck to the wall in my studio, and it's something anybody can make. If you can pick up a brush and apply color on a surface or put tape down, someone put tape between these to make it really clean and neat, and write the label of the color, then you can make a color chart. And so, this is a fabulous way for a beginner to start getting to know your materials. So, I'm a huge fan of color charts. But let's get back to, and I might have smeared that color a little bit, let's get back to the gloss medium and the matte medium. What I'm thinking here is I want to demonstrate for you what a glaze does, and I also brought some pre-made patches of color so that you could see what the color looks like when it's really transparent. It's just watercolor, I mean, water plus acrylics. Now, this isn't movable now. I can't move this color, it's adhered to a surface. This surface is actually a coal press. This is a rough texture paper. I'll talk more about the surfaces later, but I just wanted to shout out that that's what we have here. I want to show you how the gloss medium works and how the matte medium works, and I will also demo for you the retardant, and the retardant is meant to slow down the drying time of the color. So, let's just... I wanna also talk about the types of tape that we use. I tend to tape off my edges because I'm a messy painter. I don't dress this nicely as it's in my studio. I wear really old clothes that I don't care if I get paint on them, but what I try to do to keep the edges of the picture clean is put tape on top so that when I lift it, I'll have a clean white surface, a clean white edge for my composition. And the two most common types of tape that you might use for acrylic painting or any other kind of painting is a classic masking tape, which this is. You can buy that in the art supply store, and there's also this ProTape, which is a blue tape used by house painters, painters of any type. I really like both of these, but what's nice about this is the size is about an inch and when I press it down, I never have leakage with this. Sometimes different masking tapes, some are better than others for what's called leakage. When a paint is wet, it might seep under that tape. So, I really like this. I also tend to press my tape down really hard so that there is no leakage. Let me just grab the water. The other thing that I like to do, and this has to do with color, and I'm gonna try really hard not to talk about color issues, just talk about the materials, but I love color. I have two courses with Creative Live, Color Fundamentals and Color Expression, and that's where I go in more a deep dive into how color functions. So, here I might touch on some things, opaque, transparent color, but I don't wanna spend too much time on that. I wanna talk about the materials. But this particular tape called Artist Tape is used just to cover that blue or the masking tape brown because if you don't cover it, what's happening is you're influencing your eyes with the color of the blue, and suddenly it becomes a part of your piece. And people don't seem to know that that's happening, but it is, and so, you wanna make sure that you have a neutral territory surrounding a picture. So, I always use white tape, Artist Tape, around those edges, and that's what I'm dong here. I'm just gonna show you, and I'm tearing it, but you can also cut your tape with an exacto knife. My exacto should be here somewhere, maybe here. There it is. So, the exacto knife is basically, it's like a little mat knife, and a mat knife is used for cutting mats, it's large, but an exacto knife is great for cutting the tape if I wanna cut off the edge of the tape or for cutting paper off a board. It's a really good tool to have. So, I'm never without my exacto knife. Let's see if I can do this carefully here. So, what you would do, I don't wanna put this in a paint (chuckles), is I'm just pushing down on the blade so I get a cleaner edge, and that's the only reason why I would use it as opposed to tearing the paper. Oh, and I did get paint on that. Hold on a second. So, when you're making art, you're gonna get messy. It's gonna happen, and that can be a good thing, but you also wanna try to keep paper towels, cleaning tools, I usually have wet rags, I have water nearby so that if I get acrylic paint on my clothes or a surface I don't want it on... Acrylics and watercolor don't come out easily once they dry, so you do wanna catch that color fast if it's landing on, particularly on clothes. So, now I'm gonna rest what's called... It's called glazing, and it just means you're creating a color that is transparent that you're seeing through to the color underneath. So, I'm gonna test with a different brush. I'm going to use... And again, these brushes, you wanna keep them clean. Once you've used this medium, it's plastic, you don't want it to dry on the brush. So, I'm gonna test and try a different color. Kenna, you get to call out the color you would like to see. Alright, what have we not really done yet? Well, why don't we go back to blue? Okay, different. Different kinda blue. A different blue. So, we will use... Let's see if we have a phtalo blue here. Oh, phtalo. So, phtalo is a really blue-green blue, and that's gonna be yummy on this yellow in particular. So, I'll just squeeze it out and you'll get to see... I'll show the color over here so you can see what it looks like and see how different it is from the cobalt. And again, while I'm sitting here, I'm just using this glass palette. I'm not putting things in cups because I'm not saving this color, but if I were making a big painting and I wanted to save my colors, I would use the cups. Okay, so this is phtalo. Now, there are different ways that you can glaze. You can glaze with water, and I'll show you that. That's where you're thinning the color with just water, you're landing it on the surface, and it looks very much like watercolor, okay? But the thing that the water does with this pigment, with acrylics, is it tends to thin out the color and make it a little more neutralized, a little less vibrant. So, just like with oils, you have mediums. This medium, one of my favorites, is gloss medium. It's shiny, and you can see this picture here that I made, little mouse's painting, that's bear eating berries with little mouse picking the berries. I used homemade acrylics, but I used gloss medium to make my colors, and you can see it looks white so you think, oh, wait, that's gonna make the color cloudy; it dries really clear. I'm gonna mix a certain amount of this in and you'll see, hopefully, the difference when it dries. The gloss medium is two things. It's shiny. Let me add a little more of the gloss in. And I would often pour... I would tend to pour this into a cup. Maybe I'll do that now so I don't get too much color into the original jar here. It's a good practice. Put this aside so we've got a little pile. I would add water to this, too, to thin it out if it were too thick. I think it's too thick, but let's just take a look at how this looks. Now, you can probably see the color difference. It's shiny, but I don't know, Kenna, can you see the color difference between (clears throat) this color here with the gloss and the color next to it? Because to my eye this close, I can see the color difference. The one that I just made, the gloss, is really more vibrant than this one. Is that visible to you? I can see it looks a little bit, yeah, lighter for me here, yeah. So, if I look at this, one seems darker and denser, the one with just water. The gloss is, it's a little bit lighter, it's a little more, there's a little bit more of the intensity of the color. If I clean the brush... And that's what it's supposed to do. Glazing means that you're making almost... It's almost like colored plastic wrap. You can see through the color to what's underneath. The matte medium does exactly the same thing, and we can test actually. Let me just try some gloss medium on one of these colors here so you can see what it looks like separately. You can probably see this is with acrylic gloss medium and I'll do it with just water and it might be more visible. And this is drying very very quickly. Okay, so there's with gloss medium, I rinsed my brush, and now I'm just gonna activate the same color, phtalo blue, with just water. And I'm trying to make it the same value of color so you can really compare the two. Now, the one with water, when it dries, it's gonna dry lighter because the water has thinned out the color, and anything with a lot of water in it, watercolors in particular, when they dry, they dry lighter. So, you can see the brush stroke a little more clearly with the gloss medium as opposed to with water, and you also have this kind of energy to the color that is easier to see when you're really close up, but it's there, and it's designed for that. Let's put matte medium into another. This one's a little more soupy. Now, the matte medium, the only difference between that and the gloss medium is it's not shiny. So, I'm going to mix... I'll use the same color and when it dries, it'll dry matte, it'll dry without a shine to it. And it looks very very similar to the acrylic gloss, it's just that it doesn't have the shine. I like the shiny, but some people really really don't, and the only problem with the shininess of the gloss medium is that when you... If you wanna reproduce something, you wanna photograph it, if it's super shiny, or you wanna scan it, the shine can be a little bit of an issue. So, you have to photograph it with a little more care, paying attention to how the light affects it. And let's just test, this is with the matte medium. And again, the difference between it and the gloss medium will be fairly minimal. It's just that the matte, when it dries, will be flat. So, you have matte medium, you have gloss medium. Their purpose is to create transparency, and I'm using it heavily here, but I'm gonna try using it a little more thinly in another spot. Where is my other brush? I left it in here. I shouldn't do that. (glass chiming) (laughs) Gong. So, I wanna mention something. What I just did was something I don't want you to do, which is leave... Leaving brushes in your water, it tends to deteriorate your brushes, and really, it's fine they're clean, but if they're sitting in the bucket, they are... I'll just hold it this way, the brush hairs are bent, and they can stay that way if they sit that way too long. The other thing is the shaft of this is wood and this is metal on top of it. You deteriorate the connection and this paint starts to peel. So, you don't want to leave your brushes sitting in water. Rinse them really well, blot them with your paper towel, and then put them down. You can also put them in a holder, but I tend to just put them in a tray and keep track of them. So, I'm gonna show you a glaze. What I think is a really beautiful thing is when you mix... Let's choose another color (clicks teeth). Kenna, what color? Um (clears throat). It has to be something that you'll be able to see. Can we put a darker red on top of that? Yeah, we can. Would that not make sense? No, no, that's fine. It's yellow, so it'll turn into an orange. Let's choose... We'll do cad red 'cause cad red's really warm. As I showed you before, that's a really warm red. It's almost orangey. So, if I wanna shift... Let's say I'm doing, it's like a bit of a sunset, I would probably, I would keep this really super thin because you can layer glazes as well. You don't have to do a thick, thick layer for a glaze, you want it to be see through. So, I only have a little bit of pigment on the end of this brush, and this is a square tip brush with a lot of my gloss medium and a tiny bit of water. Let's just see what that looks like. I can increase the amount of color. You can almost do what's called a gradient with acrylic gloss, but like I said, it is drying super fast, so I can't spend too much time on this before it's gonna be dry. So, you can shift a pigment very slightly by using a gloss medium, and you can see right through that color. I'm gonna shift this... Which one is dry? This one's dry. I'm gonna shift this color, and it's really kinda interesting because not only can you see the brush stroke simply because the gloss tends to increase that, but you can also see, even though that's kind of a brown neutral color, it has a lot of body to it, a lot of strength, and acrylics, that's what they love to do. I wanna also show you, let's see, if we put... I'm gonna choose a yellow. This is hansa yellow pale. Actually, let me use a more common one that I really think you should have in your palette, and that is cadmium yellow. I'm gonna turn one of these greens into kind of a limier green simply by adding this color, but I'm gonna use the matte medium instead. And what I'm doing is I'm substituting the medium for water. I might use a tiny bit of water or no water at all. When you use a medium, the medium is what's moving that color around as opposed to the water. Well, lets see, is any of this... That's dry. So, that's also a kind of a beautiful thing. That's a thick sort of more impasto way of shifting your color. I can thin that out a lot, and this is the matte medium, so it means it's not gonna be shiny. And shift this color that we were working on before and just make it a little more yellow, less red. So, you're kind of creating a thin, like here's a very thin application of that color. I'm shifting the green slightly, here a lot, here a little, but with glazing, you can go thicker or you can go thinner. But you don't wanna go so thickly that you can't see the color underneath. That's not the purpose of a glaze. Okay, so that is our acrylic matte medium, our acrylic gloss medium, I've put them in cups. What I tend to do, and I'm gonna clean this up because it'll stick on this surface and make kind of a mess. Let me just fix this here. I want a tidy desk if I can. The purpose of your media, your two types of medium, are that they are meant for glazing techniques. So, it's not meant for making such thick color you can't see through it. I'm gonna move these over here and clean this up. So, the next thing I wanna show you is it's called a retarder or retardant, and it's a really interesting thing. It functions better with thick impasto use of acrylics than thin. So, I want to just shift to, and I might just turn this this way so I don't wet it, and I'll use this surface again. This is acrylics. I did a kind of gradation with a fair amount of water, no medium in this, it's just acrylics and water. Let me grab a tissue. And I'm gonna show you a thicker application, and this is what I tested, I pretested, and you can kind of see it's very densely thick, very densely opaque. These were done with a palette knife, which is a different tool, and we'll talk more about that, but I do wanna show you what happens when you use a really thick surface.

Class Description

Are you interested in working with acrylic paints but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to the world of acrylic paints. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a painting practice. By the end of this course you will be equipped with the know-how to pick up a brush and start experimenting with acrylics!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about acrylic paints and how they work
  • Which brushes and papers to use with those paints
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium 

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anshu priya

Very thorough . perfect for someone who wants to start painting with Acrylics.


Nota review but a suggestion. Use a table knife to remove paper from bloc. No curling of edges.