How to use Flow Improver + Slo-Drying Medium to make Acrylic Act like an Oil!

How to use Flow Improver + Slo-Drying Medium to make Acrylic Act like an Oil!

What are you talking about?  In the last blog you used flow improver to make acrylic act like a watercolour.  Now your saying you want to make it act like an oil paint... 'Your losing it Debs!' I hear you say.

Ok... so it does sound a bit odd but think about the qualities.  What is it that flow improver does? Well we explored that in the last blog.  It reduces surface tension and makes it flow better.  So what is the difference between acrylic and oil.

Acrylic vs. Oil

Lets look at the similarities first.  Both can work from dark to light.  You can get great coverage and the way you paint can be very similar, you can even use the same brushes.

The major differences between acrylic and oil is drying time and blending.  It is more difficult to blend with acrylic because it dries quickly.  Most differences stem from this... so for example you have to wait a lot longer before varnishing oils because of drying time (you can't varnish over wet paint), it is easier to blend oil because it dries slowly (blending is only possible with wet paint) and it is easier to get more detail in oil (you simply have more time!)

There are other obvious differences such as what they are made of i.e. their binders are different (polymer vs. oil binder) hence the mediums and cleaning agents need to be different.  This also affects how they retain colour, acrylics can dry darker, oils retain wet colour etc.. but practically from my perspective I want acrylic to act like oil for blending and detail whilst painting.

Adding mediums

It seems fairly obvious that the way to slow drying time is to add some slow drying medium but this does not necessarily give the smooth buttery oil feel, its hard to describe, some slo-dry mediums are better than others...

Then I came across the following video by 'Paint with Maz', in a Tip of the Week from the SAA.  I really had to share my thoughts.  The first thing I did was to try it, as an experiment in class!  I didn't know if it would work, I wanted to blend a smooth sky and wanted to have more drying time, I really wanted my class to have more time, here is the video I came across, she tells you to add flow improver to slow-drying medium, how and why...

It works! 60% Slow-Drying Medium with 40% Flow Improver makes Acrylic act like Oil Paint

At least whilst your painting, it does dry faster but there is plenty of working time.

Mixed together the two mediums feel a bit like wallpaper paste.  You can add the mix to your paint or paste onto your canvas and work on a wet canvas.  Great for blending!  If you add some water it stays wet for well I've not timed it but a long time! 

Contact Me to let me know what you think when you've tried it.

Final Word of Caution

Do you remember the 'golden rule' from my Flow Aid Blog?  That you should add a maximum of 30% additive and that flow aid is an additive (and so is water)... mmmm.  I figured that as your adding the mix to paint it should be reduce the flow aid percentage to more like 30% from 40% but just be aware if you add toooo much extra water you may have some issues.


I hope you've enjoyed this Blog... please let me know what you think or contact me with any queries or if your interested in my on-line courses.

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