How to make antique wash acrylic paint

Written by carl hose
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A wash in painting is when an artist uses a wet brush and a tiny bit of paint to achieve a specific look on the overall appearance of a particular painting. Washing is typically done in water-based paints, such as watercolours and acrylics. Many artists are famous for adding washed or stained effects to their works, including Friedel Dzubas and Ronnie Landfield. Making an antique wash with acrylic paint will add depth and subtle variations to your work.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Canvas
  • Solvent

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  1. 1

    Mix light gold and tan acrylic paint in a bowl. Use a ratio of three parts of tan to one part light gold. The amount you make depends on how much paper or canvas you have to cover. Add any solvent (such as turpentine) to the mixture and blend it thoroughly to avoid any heavy pigment accumulation on your brush.

  2. 2

    Use a large brush and dip it in the wet paint mixture. Wipe the wash over your canvas with long, even strokes that will create a smooth, uniformly coloured area that lacks the appearance of brush strokes. This is called washing. Wash the entire canvas with the tan and gold mixture, then add a highly diluted white to thin the wash down. You can always add more solvent to your brush and wipe it over the canvas, if your paint appears too dark. A few strokes of highly diluted black, brushed into the wash, will add a deeper, more appealing effect.

  3. 3

    Mix cream-coloured paints with pale yellow to achieve a second type of antique wash. This one leans more toward a parchment paper look. Mix the cream and pale yellow at a ratio of three parts cream to one part pale yellow. Be sure your cream colour is almost a white/tan combination. Mix these colours in your solvent of choice and brush onto the canvas with diagonal strokes. Cover at least half the width of the canvas with each stroke. Continue to do this until you've washed the entire canvas.

  4. 4

    Paint your picture on top of the washed canvas. Use thick colours so the painting stands out from the wash. The wash should highlight the subject of your painting, so the lighter your wash, the better the effect will be when you start painting.

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