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How to manage Acrylic Paint Drying Time

I love acrylics for the fact that they dry faster than oils; this gives me the versatility to change my mind and to build up several layers of painting very quickly, without losing my train of thought, or when I am pushed for time

But for some people this can be their Achilles heel.

Well I have solution for this!

I use Atelier Interactive Acrylics and these are a fantastic patented design which have slower drying than a lot of acrylics, BUT when they are touch dry they can be made workable again with just a spray mist of water.

Whilst working with them, you can spray the canvas or the palette with the fine water spray and this keeps the paint moist and workable like oils, but without the fuss- or the slow drying time!

Amazing eh?

And if they are left to dry for a few days they can still be made wet again by spraying with a fluid called ‘Unlock formula’

‘Golden Open’ –is another acrylic brand with a slower drying time. In fact they take so long to dry that my first painting with them ended up looking like mud as each layer took 5 or 6 hours to dry – so they act more like slow drying oils in fact. By the third painting I was enjoying them and I had worked out how to use them to fit my approach.

The colours in Golden Open are glorious and glowing; they would suit someone who enjoys lots of time to refine the details as well as the more textural painter.

Garden Roses

‘Garden Roses’ Golden Open acrylic on canvas 50cm x 35cm by Angela Corben


For those who don’t use these acrylic brands, there are lots of ways to get around the quick drying time.

  1. Mix a little SLOW DRY MEDIM or FLOW IMPROVER with your paint and drop a little into your water pot
    Just take care not to add more than 60% medium to your paint as it can get tacky and unworkable if you get too heavy handed.
  1. Become friends with THE GLAZE – a thin glaze of one colour across 2 adjoining areas will ‘unify’ the two, without altering the inherent brushstrokes underneath
    Glazing can be done by just diluting the paint on your palette with clean water, or you can use a Glaze medium instead of water.
    I will talk more about glazing in subsequent posts as it is a very handy acrylic artist technique.
  1. Set yourself a 30 minute painting challenge and paint it all in one go ‘all prima’.
    No fussy marks, just place the brush and move on to the next mark– you will be surprised at the lively mark making and your true style and flair will begin to shine through.
  1. Try painting in definite layers; allowing a coloured base layer to show through.
    It is easiest to start this technique with Landscape or Abstract genres but it can equally produce very bold exciting portraits.

Hope this is helpful. Give it a go.

Thanks for reading.


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