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Investigating the Drying Process of Acrylic Color and Gel Medium

12 thoughts on “Investigating the Drying Process of Acrylic Color and Gel Medium”

  1. I’ve never done this before, but i want to learn. I think i learned the wrong way first with olis and silicone. Wasn’t very good at that either, but i want to be. Is there any videos out there to show us the Golden way to pour paint? There’s plenty out there that show us how to add oils and silicone.

    • Hello El Lena,
      Thank you for your questions. We have a video showing us doing a big pour with GAC 800 and Fluid Acrylics, located here: http://www.goldenpaints.com/videos/big-paint-pour–with-golden-gac-800. If you read through the many comments in this article, you’ll see we are very wary of using oils that do not dry in your paint, which is what silicone oil is. Try isopropyl alcohol first, you may find that to be all you need, but pouring paint isn’t all about big cell patterns, so feel free to explore other avenues. Let us know if you have any questions at help@goldenpaints.com
      – Mike

  2. Thanks for the article. Over the course of my painting I’ve done my own (less scientific) research on drying times. Other than physical prodding, it helps to hold the painting up to light so that the light reflects off of the surface at various times in the drying process.
    I found the best way to do this is by reflecting light off the finished work directly after a film has formed, and then putting it out of sight for at least a day or two. When I come back to shine some light on it again, right away I can visibly notice a difference in the appearance of the painting. The best way to describe the difference is that there is a general flattening of structure in a thinner acrylic application. Brush strokes become harder to recognize. Top layers merge with the under-painting layers to create a more cohesive, ‘lived in’ look.
    In a thin acrylic application, the process from newlyweds-to-50-year-anniversary-level-of-merging is 3 days. In a thick application, sometimes it seems the cure process may actually take 50 years.
    That merging change is easiest to see in landscape paintings in my experience. Usually the foreground objects ‘pop’ too much during the initial stages of drying. After curing for a few days they settle into the landscape nicely.
    But it always gives me a little anxiety when I’m doing a more naturalist style. The foreground grass and the trees’ highlights initially look a bit too neon for me until the painting cures.

    • Thank you for your comments Jone.

      There are many facets of acrylic paint films drying that are in need of exploration. All insight is welcome!

      – Mike Townsend

  3. I have a few questions about crazing with poured paints about 1/4″ thick. I understand that the skin formation in thicker paint layers, such as during pours, can lead to crazing because of stresses caused in the unequally dried paint.
    Does retarder prevent crazing?
    If the pours were made in layers, for example 4 layers 1/16″ thick, or progressively thick layers, such as 1/64, 1/32, 1/16″ etc up to the same depth, would that promote deeper drying and diminish crazing?
    If before each successive pour the deep layer is allowed to dry to coalescence, would the next pour rehydrate the deeper portion and defeat the strategy?

    • Hi Charlie.

      Thanks for your questions.

      Slower drying mediums are less prone to crazing than faster drying ones. Also, humidity is a big factor for pours as well. If you “tent” a pour while it is drying, the water evaporating from the paint will create a humid microclimate between the tent and painted surface. This tends to be better to do than using Retarder. Retarder certainly slows the drying time, but in thicker applications it is very slow to leave the film, resulting in a tacky surface for days and weeks. Thinner pours are also less likely to craze, as the entire pour dries about the same rate. The thicker puddles are the ones that are most likey to craze.

      – Mike

  4. Thanks for this informative article.

    I’ve recently added a thick layer of faux encaustic (the last layer before varnishing, composed of thick matte gel and gloss medium) to the process for a body of work for an upcoming exhibit. My exhibit of 12-14 paintings is in 90 days. After reading this article, I turned on my dehumidier! (I live a few hundred feet from a river channel in a low-lying area, about a mile and a half from the ocean. The humidity in my home usually hovers around 62%.) Fortunately I am working on stretched canvas.

    It seems from the article that the best test to see if the paint has coalesced, would be pressing the surface with a pencil?

    I leave the paintings flat for several days, but then must prop them around the room so as to continue painting other works on my flat surface. I’m thinking as long as the paint has reached a more solid state, that it is OK to store the paintings in a more upright position.

    I really appreciate the scientific testing that you conduct at Golden.

    • Hello Kerry.

      Thank you for your interest in this article. The pencil test was used to check skinning over times and depth. It also left a mark where I did the test for later review. If you keep the work at room temperature with lower humidity, the gels and mediums should clear up as intended. Bear in mind that Matte, Satin and Semi-gloss Gels and Mediums will always have some degree of cloudiness, which helps make them look more like translucent wax. Please contact us if you have any additional questions at help@goldenpaints.com – Mike


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