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Some General Tips on Using Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paint is a very versatile medium. Depending on how it is used, it can be successfully applied to any of our panels. For thin washes and layers, try Claybord or Aquabord. If a gessoed painting panel is needed, try Gessobord. Pastelbord is also a good choice because it keeps paints wet longer and provides a tinted surface excellent for underpainting. We suggest experimentation using each panel to find the surface that is right for you. Our "Product Selection Guide" is a good resource for choosing the right panel. And be sure and try this acrylic exercise.

Using Claybord & Acrylics

The combination of the clay coating and the smooth surface allows for free flowing brush strokes, intense color and the ability to remove paint from the surface with ease. One of the great advantages to using Claybord with acrylics is that you can scratch into the board. When planning to remove acrylic color to create detail and tonal value, apply in thin washes in areas planned for removal. Since acrylics dry to a plastic film, it will be more difficult to remove if applied too heavily. If you're using these removal techniques, you can also try oil washes and glazing over your initial acrylic work for added brilliance and luminosity. The other great advantage to using Claybord with acrylics is that they can be applied in any consistency from thin washes to thick impasto strokes if being used as a straight painting panel. While sealing is not required when using acrylics, you may want to use a varnish to freshen colors and protect the painting.

Using Aquabord & Acrylics

For a surface with more texture and for better adhesion with washes and layering in acrylic, try Aquabord. Tips described with Claybord may also apply to Aquabord. Aquabord acts as paper does in that it is very absorbent and contains minerals that act as tiny sponges. When painting in thin washes, the paints soak in and dry very quickly. It is also possible to gradually build up paint to much heavier layers. Be sure to start with thin layers and gradually build up to thick impasto strokes. This ensures proper adhesion.

Using Pastelbord & Acrylics

Pastelbord with acrylic paint? It was a surprise to us as well. Acrylic artists have been contacting us and sharing their experiences using acrylics on Pastelbord. Ken Muenzenmayer is a good example. He uses acrylics and says that they stay wet longer than on a gessoed panel or canvas allowing more oil paint-like blending techniques. Ken suggests wetting the board first before applying the paint to achieve this effect. Pastelbord also allows the color in Ken's paintings to reach an intensity unattainable on any other surface. The paintings "glow" as shown in this painting, “Breaking Open the Jewel. Acrylic paint may not be removed from the panel after it has thoroughly dried. While the paint is still wet, it may be lifted or changed like when using watercolor. Pastelbord may be washed under the tap if necessary but only while the paint is still wet. Pastelbord also makes an excellent underpainting surface simply because it is already a middle ground tone. To change the color of the panel, simply apply a light coat of acrylic paint to the surface, allow to dry and continue painting.

Using Gessobord & Acrylics

Gessobord was designed for use with oil and acrylic paints. For a straight painting panel with acrylics, Gessobord is the perfect choice. Paint with synthetic or nylon brushes. The paint will release more easily and the brushes will be easier to clean. Keep a healthy supply of water on hand. Dirty water can compromise the clarity and color of the paints. With Gessobord, it is possible to paint in thicknesses ranging from thin washes to thick impasto. Try using various gel mediums for glazing and layering transparent colors. For texture, use a textured medium or experiment with tools available to you such as Colour Shapers, credit cards, nails, or dried brushes. Gloria Gaddis uses Gessobord exclusively for her acrylic paintings. She begins her paintings with thin layers, gradually building up to very heavy textured surfaces as illustrated above.