Blending with acrylics can be tricky, especially soft transitions from one color to another. There are several reasons acrylics can be harder to blend with so, in this lesson I'm going to teach you how to overcome each blending obstacle and share with you several blending secrets. It isn't necessary to use every technique to blend. Try some of the different ways and use what works for you.
Problem #1 - Acrylics dry fast, so there is less time to blend. Acrylics will go into a sticky stage quickly and once the paint becomes tacky, trying to blend is impossible.
Solution: Make your acrylics "open time" or blending time longer. There are several ways you can do this...
1. The Sta-wet Palette: This palette keeps your paints wet on the palette without having to use sprays. Paints are already beginning to dry before you even get it on your canvas, decreasing the blending time. But on the sta-wet, your paints are wet from the beginning increasing their "open time."
Tip: If you don't have a sta-wet palette and want to see how it works, use a Tupperware container instead. In a square Tupperware container add wet paper towels on the bottom (not dripping wet). Then add wet copy paper cut to the container size on top of the towels. Add your paints on top of the paper. It is not as great as buying the sta-wet palette, but it is similar enough to see how it works. Then just add the lid when you store it and your paints stay wet for days.
2. Add mediums that keep acrylics from drying too fast. Acrylics have several mediums that can be added to the paint that slow down drying time. I have this lesson here if you want to learn more about them. Adding slow-dri medium is a great option, as it reduces the drying time by 40%.
Problem #2 - Brushes leave marks. A soft blend is almost impossible when you have brushes leaving brush marks.
Solutions: There a couple of things you need to do to get rid of brush marks...
1. Get a soft synthetic brush that is flat on the top. A good blending brush is soft to the touch but when you bend the bristles back and then let go, it springs back into position. Depending on the size of your work is how large a brush you want to work with.
2. Lower the viscosity of your paint. Viscosity for acrylics is the measure of the paint's thickness or, resistance to flow. If your acrylic paint is thick it will retain brush marks and make blending more of a challenge. You can lower the viscosity with water or a fluid medium. I prefer using the slow-dri medium as it will increase the flow of your paints as well as slow down drying time.
3. Apply soft pressure. If you very softly touch your brush to your paint to move it around you leave less brush marks. So, if you need to use thicker paint and want to blend, all you need to do is blend the very surface.
Problem # 3 - My paint is already dry, how do I blend now.
Solution: You can glaze over already dry paint to soften the transition between colors or soften lines. I give an entire lesson on glazing for my Createful Art Members because it is such an important technique to learn and master. I glaze by adding water or glazing medium to white or the color I need to soften the transition too. The watered-down version lets me control how much color I put down over the top to ease the transition. The more paint or pigment (color), the more coverage. I can decrease or increase the coverage as needed to soften and transition from one color to another.
Problem #4 - I see streaks and lines.
Paint over an area more. Blending takes time and the more you work over an area the more it blends. You will often see me go over an area several times just to get it to blend. I also work side-to-side for skies and in circles for round objects. The more I work side-to-side or round and round the more the colors are mixing which is what creates soft blends.
That being said, new artists can easily over-blend an area making a muddy mess. Don't overdo it. Once it looks good, leave it alone. Just remember, blending needs more working over but everything else needs less.
I have several tutorials that you can practice blending with me. The tutorial below is a favorite! In the tutorials that demonstrate blending and glazing. Come paint along! As a Createful Art Member you can get the reference photos to help you paint along with me. If you haven't already signed up, it's an incredible deal for all the perks (weekly art lessons, ref. photos, color mixing videos, bonus content and more!).