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Blending Acrylic Paints Technique

By: Bumblebees and Butterflies
May 2, 2019

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Blending Acrylic Paints Technique
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Hi it's Brenda here with you today. I was working on a tag recently and wanted to create a soft vintage look with my media acrylic paints. I had covered the greyboard tag with a coat of gesso using a palette knife when an idea came to me - let's try using a distress ink blending tool!

I made up the tag and was really pleased with the results but creating in the moment I hadn't written down any explanation of what I had done nor what I had used so I have been experimenting and finding out how I could recreate it again (can you tell my short term memory is awful?). I did, however, take a few photos.

Items needed:

  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Cerulean Blue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Green Gold
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Yellow Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Hansa Yellow Light
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Cobalt Teal Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Phthalo Green-Blue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Cobalt Blue Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Burnt Umber
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Dark Grey Value 3
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Medium Grey Value 6
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Raw Umber
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - White
  • Mediums 2oz - Glazing Medium
  • Blending tool and foam
  • Palette knife
  • Tags and card
  • Soft cloth
  • Heat gun


Here's what the original background photos looked like.

Instruction #1 - Photo Background
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I started my exploration with some ordinary craft shipping tags. The tags on the left were not primed at all and the tags on the right were given a thin coat of gesso using a palette knife. I used the rectangular blending tool and foam, taking a small amount of each colour and blending from my craft mat onto the tag, just like you do with distress inks.

1. These were a mixture of both opaque and semi-translucent paints - Titan Buff, Cerulean Blue, Green Gold and Yellow Oxide although I mixed some Titan Buff with the 3 semi-translucent colours which made them more cloudier.

Instruction #2 - Photo Step 1
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2. These were all translucent colours - Hansa Yellow Light, Cobalt Teal Hue, Phthalo Green-Blue and Cobalt Blue Hue.

Instruction #3 - Photo Step 2
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3. In this neutral palette the acrylics were all opaques - Burnt Umber, Dark Grey Value 3, Medium Grey Value 6 and Titan Buff.

Instruction #4 - Photo Step 3
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What I realized was that I used far too much paint on the blending foam, the paints moved around a lot but were easy to use. What I also noticed was that blending onto a gesso surface was much smoother and created more translucent colours. Mmmmm how could I improve on that?

I took a little time to think about what else we know about acrylic paints? They dry quickly, they are traditionally used by painters using brushes and these artists usually use sweeping strokes of colours to blend them together. They can be mixed with glazing medium to create more transparent layers which doesn't affect their drying time. Also, by experimenting with the blending tool and blending foam I found the pads hold the paint well, give good coverage and are washable so they can be used again. So I decided my next step was to add some glazing medium to see what difference that made.

I cut some card to fit one of my journals and scraped a gesso layer over with a palette knife and left them to dry. Gesso has a tooth to it to allow the paint to stick to it so I buffed the first piece with a soft cloth, it certainly gave it a bit more of a satin feel. I also swapped from the larger rectangular tool to the small circular tool and foam. I love the neutral palette so I chose Titan Buff, Medium Grey Value 6, Burnt Umber and Raw Umber.

Instruction #5 - Photo Blending Tools
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4. The card on the left has two coats of Titan Buff. The card on the right has two coats of Titan Buff mixed 1:1 with glazing medium. When added to paint it gives more transparent layering effects and this just glided on with the foam pad and gives a much softer finish. I also started by rubbing with a soft cloth after each layer had dried but you’ll see what happened part way through.

Instruction #6 - Photo Step 4
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5. For the next layer, I chose Medium Grey Value 6. Immediately you can see how thicker the paint stays on the surface even with only one coat (as the left-hand side). Because the paint is thicker you need more paint on the foam for it to cover. Whereas the mix of paint and glazing medium on the right-hand side has two coats and is still so soft and translucent and you need very little on the foam pad. I can see the benefits of using both of these techniques.

Instruction #7 - Photo Step 5
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6. For the third colour I chose burnt umber and repeated Step 2 above but I forgot to rub the right-hand card with a soft cloth between the layers and the paint beneath gave more tooth for the second coat to hold onto giving a deeper tone.

Instruction #8 - Photo Step 6
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7. I finished with Raw Umber applying it mostly around the edges to frame each background. Again I chose not to rub the right-hand card between the two layers of paint but I did rub both of them before I took each photo. On the right-hand card I also rubbed my finger around the edges when applying the wet paint to blend it to an even softer finish.

Instruction #9 - Photo Step 7
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So you see the effects I got from raw card, gesso, media paint and glazing medium. You can see some of the cards have more texture than others from the gesso. I actually love all the effects.??
To summarise there are four different outcomes and effects.
1. Blended acrylics on raw card
2. Blended acrylics on gesso covered card
3. Blended acrylics on gessoed card with buffing between layers
4. Blended acrylics mixed with glazing medium and buffed between layers

Here is a journal collage page made with one of the above tags. I introduced colour through the stamping and collage elements. You can see I stamped on the tag and painted in some of the swirls on the border.?

Instruction #10 - Photo Staged 227
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Instruction #11 - Photo Staged 3
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Thanks for stopping by today

Hugs Brenda xxx


Great techniques, Brenda. Thank you!!

Susan N Schultheis

May 2, 2019

Thanks for sharing the results of your experiments in such detail. And such a lovely page at the end of it all too. Alison x


May 6, 2019

Oh, wow! This was such a treat to read, Brenda! Great effects and techniques and I love seeing the different results from different techniques in one place for comparison. I will definitely have to try these! Thank you for the great tutorial and inspiration! Hugs, Claudia xxx


May 21, 2019

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