Acrylic mediums, Morning Promise Studio painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Morning Promise, finished

I've just shipped this new studio painting to a collector in Ohio who commissioned it for above her fireplace. Her room and walls were quite dark, so she wanted the piece to be fairly light in feel and in color. She's delighted, and says that her room is transformed with the presence of the painting. Just what I would hope one of my paintings would do for a room! I used a bit of glazing on the piece and wanted to write about acrylic mediums.

Acrylic mediums have many uses in painting with acrylic. , and I'm going to talk about a few of them. Just as with oil paint, acrylic artists often use mediums to help the paint flow, to add adhesion, and to extend the paint, or color, when necessary. Acrylic mediums act like a colorless paint. If you mix up a color and need just a bit more to finish up a section, you can add a little medium to extend. You can also economically extend the paint this way, but your paints will become more transparent as you add medium, so be sure to plan for that to happen.

Using too much water with acrylics can affect the adhesion qualities, to so ensure that your paint will remain attached to the support, add some acrylic medium as a binder whenever you get above 25-50% water. Acrylic medium is such a strong binder that it will act as a glue. Sometimes the medium will look opaque, particularly if you brush a lot, but it will eventually dry clear.

Another use of acrylic medium is as a glazing medium. It's perfect for washing a little color over the top of another, adding both depth and dimension. The blues will move parts of the landscape or skies back in space. and a glaze of yellow azo will bring alive a green foreground. You can also glaze an entire piece or part of one to bring discordant colors together.

Acrylic mediums come in a choice of matte, or gloss if you like a little shine. You can mix them if you’d like a little of each property.
Don't confuse mediums with additives, like texture. Mediums have binding and adhesive qualities that additives don't have!


  1. Lovely painting... and congrats on the commission!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Patrice. Yes, I was pleased with the final painting, and fortunately the client is also!