How to Paint with Acrylic Paint and a Textured Medium

Written by elizabeth stover
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How to Paint with Acrylic Paint and a Textured Medium
Texture medium adds depth and detail (

Acrylics offer great versatility. They accept many items mixed into them that create more detailed texture than can be created by paint and brush stroke alone. Texture mediums add interest to acrylic paintings. They also increase the amount of depth and detail with far less work than it would take to create the same effect with acrylic paint alone. Create texture mediums at home or purchase commercially made mediums from a hobby or art store. Experiment mixing different items into acrylic paint, gesso or modelling paste to create texture mediums yourself.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Sponges or rags
  • Palette knife
  • Gesso
  • Sturdy painting surface
  • Store-bought texture mediums
  • Seeds, sand, fibres, paper bits, tiny beads or rock flakes
  • Modelling paste
  • Small sticks

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    Mediums with Additives

  1. 1

    Acquire a sturdy painting surface before using mediums with additives. The additives add weight to the paint and, if using a very heavy texture, a stretched canvas panel probably will not be strong enough. Use a purchased canvas board or paint a wood panel with three to four coats of gesso to prepare the surface. Be sure to let each coat of gesso dry to the touch before adding the next coat.

  2. 2

    Buy texture medium at your hobby or art store. Texture mediums come with a wide variety of particles mixed into them. Among these are such items as small glass beads, sand or pumice. Mix the texture medium into the paint using an amount to suit your tastes with regard to how much texture you desire.

  3. 3

    Alternatively, create texture yourself in acrylic paints by mixing additives directly into the paint. Try adding common sand, seeds, rock flakes, fibres and paper or foam bits to your acrylic paint. Mix in only a small amount at a time, testing it on your brush and scrap paper after each addition. You can always add more to it, but you cannot take it out.

    Larger Additives

  1. 1

    Use larger additives to add texture to your paintings as well. Things such as foam packing peanuts, seeds, bits of coarse cloth or tiny sticks can be used to create unique textures. However, these items need a primer coat of gesso so that they will accept the paint you want to put on later. Do not just paint over them with acrylic paint.

  2. 2

    Paint your surface with a coat of gesso. If you are using a wood board that has already been painted with a few coats of gesso acting as a primer, you will need to add one more coat of gesso so that you have a wet top coat. While it is still wet, sprinkle your texture material, such as seeds, on the surface. The wet gesso acts as a glue to help adhere your texture materials.

  3. 3

    Let gesso dry to the touch so that the material adheres, then paint two or three more coats of gesso over the entire surface. Cover the texture material completely so that paint will adhere to it. Once dry, paint with acrylic paints as you would an untextured surface using brushes, sponges or rags.

    Texture Using Modeling Paste

  1. 1

    Apply modelling paste to your painting surface with a palette knife to create texture. Use the palette knife to create shapes, objects or areas of texture with the modelling paste. After one coat has dried completely, add additional coats of modelling paste to build up texture if desired. Alternatively, allow modelling paste to dry first, then carve, sand or scrape the dried paste into interesting textures before painting.

  2. 2

    Paint with acrylic paints using brushes, sponges or rags once the modelling paste has dried completely.

  3. 3

    Paint a final wash, or thin watery coat, if desired, of acrylic paint in a slightly darker colour over the entire painting. The darker wash seeps into cracks and around textures creating depth.

    Gel Mediums

  1. 1

    Add commercial gel mediums to acrylic paint to thicken it. The gel will not dilute colour so you may add as much or as little as you like. The more gel medium you add, the thicker the paint becomes and the more it maintains texture.

  2. 2

    Create the texture by applying thick or thin coats of the mixture of gel and paint. Experiment with different types of applicators. Brushes and palette knives work well for initial application. Afterward, use sticks, toothbrushes, strings or crumpled paper to create further texture by pressing them into the paint.

  3. 3

    The strokes or indentations from whatever you apply the paint with remain in the paint because of the texture gel thickening it. Be sure that these dry completely before doing any further work on the painting. Because it is thick, it may take longer to dry. Afterward, paint can be applied with a brush to add highlights, shadows or more colours.

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