Gel mediums allow you to change the consistency of acrylic paint. With the right gel medium you can make the paint really thick. This is great for achieving highly textured impasto techniques. Other mediums will actually thin the paint and make it easier to brush. There are also mediums that have very specific uses. This can be for blocking support induced discoloration, improving adhesion, or pouring acrylic paint. In this we article I am going to look at some of the my favorite gel mediums. These mediums will help to take your painting to the next level.
What is Acrylic Gel Medium?
Acrylic paint is made from a combination of pigment, water, and an acrylic polymer. The pigment is the color of the paint. The polymer and the water combine to create the body of the paint. The properties of the polymer used and the amount of water effect the working effects of the paint. This can make it thicker or thinner.
Acrylic gel medium is essentially paint without the pigment. This means that it is clear paint. Different types of acrylic polymers can be used to make it thicker or thinner. Sometimes other additives like glass beads or pumice are added to give it other characteristics.
The best acrylic Gel Medium
This is a list of my favorite gel mediums. They have specific uses, so the best acrylic gel medium is going to be the one the helps to create the effects you desire. One of the benefits of acrylic paint is that many of these mediums can be mixed together. If the gel you are using is just a bit too thin, you can add a little bit of a thicker medium. This is especially true if you are working with mediums and paints from the same manufacturer.
Blick Artists’ Acrylic Line of Gel Mediums
Blick Artists’ Acrylic Gel Medium – $12.80
from: Blick Art Materials
If you are already using Blick artists acrylic, then it would be a great idea to stick with the same line and use their gel medium. They are a high quality and slightly more affordable alternative to some of the more established brands. Here are some of the mediums they offer:
Blick Artists Acrylic Gel Medium
This is a nice medium body gel. Great for extending your paint, and adding bold textures to your paint.
Blick Artists Acrylic Modeling Paste
Modeling paste lets you almost sculpt with paint. It is super thick and holds marks extremely well. It tends to dry more opaque because of the additives in it.
My Pick: Golden Acrylic Gel Medium
Golden Acrylic Gel Mediums – $11.89
from: Blick Art Materials
The Golden line of gel mediums in probably my favorite things to add to acrylic paint. One of the best things about Golden gel is that there is such a wide range of textures. So you should be able to find exactly the consistency that you are looking for. Many of these gels also come in a gloss, satin, and matte version which can help you achieve exactly the look you are going for.
Soft gel is one step up in thickness from Golden’s polymer medium. It is still thinner then their heavy body acrylics so it fits a very unique niche. One of the best applications I have found for soft gel is as an acrylic glue. If you are incorporating collage into your paintings, then this is is the acrylic gel to use. I would also recommend adding a bit of GAC 200 to it if you really want to increase the adhesion of your collage.
This is my go too gel, it is the perfect medium body. Very similar to the consistency of heavy body acrylic paint. I personally use it for creating impasto effects and bold splashes of thick paint.
I use this product when I want to create thicker effects. Probably my favorite when I am creating a really thick painting. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that while they appear white when wet, most gels dry clear. This can be a little deceiving at first because your mixtures can appear lighter then the will be when dry. It is a good idea to to some experimenting on a spare paper or canvas so that you can see exactly what it will look like.
Extra Heavy Gel
This one is getting almost into the realm of a molding paste it is so thick. But, it still dries mostly clear. It provides the best of both worlds: the clarity of a gel and the body of a molding paste. It holds peaks, brush, and tool marks very well.
High Solid Gel
This product has working characteristics that are very similar to Heavy Gel. The difference is that is has more paint solids in it, so it won’t shrink as much as some of the other products.
Golden Molding Pastes
There is a wide range of different molding pastes made by Golden that are very similar to their acrylic gels. The difference is that they contain marble dust. This means that they don’t dry clear and will tent be a more opaque milky white. Because of the added marble, they actually hold peaks incredibly well. There is a wide range of thicknesses available.
Granular Acrylic Gels
Golden Paints make a few gels that contain gritty additives. These range from small acrylic particles in the clear granular gel to actual glass in the glass bead gel. There are also several grits of pumice gel. The pumice gel actually almost dries to give a concrete like effect.
Tar gel makes your acrylic paint really stringy. It almost becomes syrupy so you can make long stringy effects.
Liquitex Professional Gel Mediums
Liquitex Gel Mediums – $11.31
from: Blick Art Material
Liquitex also makes a wide range gels in both gloss, matte, and ultra-matte looks.
A good versatile acrylic gel medium. Great for extending paint.
If you are Liquitex fan, this is a great choice for adding more texture to your paintings. A good balance between being brush-able and holding textures.
If you want to make a really textured painting this would be a great acrylic gel medium to use. It would be a great product to use with a palette knife because it would hold the knife marks very nicely.
Like the other modelling pastes we have covered, this one is very very thick. You can actually create sculptural effects on your painting with it.
Winsor & Newton Acrylic Gel Medium
Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic Gel Mediums – $18.89
from: Blick Art Materials
While they are better know for their production of oil paint, Winsor & Newton produces a line of acrylic paint. Their professional acrylic paints are very high quality. I would recommend using their acrylic gel medium if you are already using their paint. They make a gloss and a matte gel. While the range of viscosity isn’t as big as those made by Golden, they medium bodied gel is a great choice to add texture and extend your acrylic paints.
Acrylic gel mediums are probably one of the biggest advantages of using acrylic paint vs oil paint. You can achieve such a wide range of special effects. You also don’t have to worry about fat or lean or painting too thickly like you would with oil paint. I hope that you enjoy experimenting with acrylic gel medium. Let us know which one of these mediums is your favorite in the comments.