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Transparent and opaque techniques with acrylics

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What is acrylic paint's greatest virtue? Its exceptional versatility! You can work with an infinite number of textures: opaque and thick like the oil painting, or delicately transparent and close to watercolor results. 

What you need to know

  • When diluted with water like watercolors, acrylic paint has the same fast drying properties. But by adding a retarder medium, you can stretch painting time: This is a definite advantage if you like to take your time! 
  • When used like oils, acrylic paint results are just as spectacular. Additional advantages: odorless, with a shorter drying time!

1. Creating a "watercolor-like" acrylic painting (transparent technique)

  • Use watercolor paper (300 g or more).
  • Mix your colors with a lot of water to create washes in various shades.
  • Start by applying the lightest washes
  • Use the darkest shades to create contrasts in shades and volume, and represent the shadows or details.

Keep in mind

Your gesture should be especially self-confident, because mistakes cannot be corrected. So here is some advice: practice, practice, practice…

2. Creating an "oil-like" acrylic painting (opaque technique)

  • Use a canvas-covered medium.
  • Dilute your colors just slightly with water, or use them straight out of the tube.
  • Start by applying color to the largest areas, then add the various motifs of your composition.
  • Refine your motifs with finer brush strokes.
  • Last step: use white acrylic to add highlights.