31 Jul 2012

Using acrylics as watercolors

Acrylic is the only painting medium that can be all mediums - it can act like watercolor, it can act like oils, and it has it's own innate properties - Andrew Hamilton

Recently I've been experimenting with using acrylic paints as watercolors mainly because I have lots of acrylic paint lying around and I haven't got much watercolor paint left. The results have been quite interesting.
I first tried mixing up a few test paints to see how well they would flow and whether the colors would change when they dried. The test was done on a scrap of watercolor paper and was just some rough markings and a few test patches to try blending the colors. The first paint I mixed up had bubbles in it which I didn't think much about until I actually painted the bubbles onto the paper and they dried as bubbly marks. That was unexpected and I'm not sure why there were bubbles at all, I guess acrylics need more mixing in the water than the watercolor paint and this causes the bubbles.
I found the acrylic paint stayed very vibrant when watered down and I didn't notice much of a color shift when they dried either.

For some reason though, and I can't put my finger on exactly why, I prefer using the watercolor paint.The two paintings done here were both done using watered down acrylics and I'm happy enough with the results, but I just have this niggling feeling that I would have made a better job using watercolor.

I've decided to keep using the acrylics for now though. I want to explore layering washes more and I'm hoping that whatever it is that I don't like about using the acrylics this way will become clearer with more practice.

On a positive note, I bought some .1 sized pens and I'm very happy with how fine they are compared to the .4 that I used on the Thrush and Kingfisher.

Have a great week! :)


  1. Great works! ).1 makes a hughe difference right? On my screen these look like watercolor, so I am waiting for more.

    Are you working in your sketchbook?

    Interesting that you paint animals only (birds), why?

    As for using acrylics as a watercolor, you might check youtube, it's full of information. Maybe you can find something useful.

    I prefer to use watercolors because they don't dry as fast and I can move the paint even if it gets dry. I can leave the paint on palette for several days and then just use it again.

    But I am really curious what you can achieve with acrylics and I understand your reasons.

    As for the bubles, I've noticed them while glazing my large painting. I hate them, maybe the acrylic flow improver could help. Also there is something like a glazing medium, but it may be not suitable for your watercolor like technique.

    These bubbles show up also when I use my cheap watercolor paint, when I got Winsor&Newton it does not happens. Certainly due some flow improver like I said.

    See Tips and Tricks on the bottom http://voices.yahoo.com/how-acrylic-paint-act-look-like-watercolor-214921.html

  2. Your birds are sweet and lovable. Beautiful and lovely artwork.

    1. Thank you :)
      I love your work too! I think today everyone is so wrapped up in the idea of perfection, perfect body, perfect complexion, perfect marriage and children, perfect job, that everyone has lost sight of the things that truly make us beautiful. Our flaws and imperfections and unique views on life are what makes our lives varied and interesting. I wouldn't want to live in a world full of clones all dressing and acting the same way.