| Worst Mistake Acrylic Painters Make |

After one of my acrylics talks a few years ago, an artist pulled me aside and said,
“Now, I finally understand why my paintings are falling apart! I wish I had known what you just taught me 10 years ago!”

My heart went out to her. I’ve made more technical mistakes with my art over the years than I care to recount. That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing with artists how to build a sound and stable paint film.

I don’t want to hinder anyone’s creative process. That’s the last thing I want! That’s why I offer some sound alternatives here to get the same look without harming the paint film.

Please, please share this info with all your painter friends, artists groups, classes, professors, etc. I’ve found in the 15 years I’ve been teaching this to artists of all levels from those with 40 years experience and paintings in museums to the absolute beginner, only about 5% have ever heard of underbinding. Let’s make sure no more artists have their paintings fall apart by something that could easily be avoided.

These are the materials I mentioned in the video above:
Liquitex airbrush medium
Liquitex gloss medium
Liquitex acrylic gesso 32oz.

Responses to “Worst Mistake Acrylic Painters Make”

  1. Ann Etheridge

    Thanks for the FANTASTIC video on underbidding Michelle! I first learned this from you in a talk at the VAE several years ago and was very surprised. I had been using lots of water to think my paint.

    I love the idea of doing taking an art retreat and would be interested in knowing more about this. I hope you have a wonderful retreat.

    Ann Etheridge

  2. Helpful tips | Dana Barbieri

    […] I have my paints ready. A new brush and a big stack of watercolor paper came yesterday. I just saw this video by Michele Theberge that you might want to watch if you paint in acrylics. Also, this episode of […]

  3. Sheryl Tealdi

    A very informative video– also, I would like additional details regarding your February 4th workshop in San Francisco.Thank you
    Sheryl Tealdi

  4. Marge Knyper

    Wow! Thanks Michelle! That will be very helpful in my use of acrylics esp. in rosemaling painting. The 30% rule will help me a lot!

  5. Elisa Choi

    michelle thank you for the informative video! Sharing this.

  6. Catherine Tonning-Popowich

    Thanks Michelle! This is a big help as I have been struggling to know what all the mediums are for. My question is: If I work with acrylics on Claybord do I still have to worry about binding it so much. I like the claybord because it is somewhat absorbent like watercolor paper. Sometimes I gesso it and paint thicker and other times I do washes like watercolor.
    Love your newsletters!


    • admin

      Hi Catherine! I think it’s less of an issue with Clayboard but contact the manufacturer to be sure. Since you can use the airbrush medium and get the same watercolor effect, why not try that? Then you can be sure of proper adhesion

  7. Nidan

    Some sound advice here! I have worked predominantly in watercolour, and am starting to work more in acrylic, so I still like to use base washes.
    Do you have any guidance on the use of other acrylic “mediums” e.g. by Daler Rowney or Windsor & Newton? They both produce a range of mediums, gels, pastes, enhancers, etc. but only a few actually mention limiting the amount to use and often only in general terms – e.g. “Flow Enhancer is best added directly to colour in small quantities until the desired flow characteristics are achieved.”.

  8. Camille Schaeffer

    Good to know as I started as a watercolor painter and use lots of water. Does the acrylic medium have to be gloss? I have a huge bottle of satin acrylic glazing medium that I just bought. Will that work also??

  9. ChicagoHawksGal

    This is so helpful Michelle. One question: can you use matte medium and acrylic paint rather than a gloss medium?

  10. Sandi lovitz

    I am having an issue with the pouring medium at times. Ha d to be plain. Is there any way I can speak to you on the phone….

  11. Jed

    Thank so much Michelle! Is there anything I can do to fix or help a completed work of art that was painted with underbinding? I am worried about the future of some of my paintings.

  12. Sally

    Hi. Thanks for the useful info with demonstration. Greatly appreciated.

    My question is.. I’ve aleady put about one layer of watery sketchy paint months ago on a pre-primed canvas. I did not apply any gesso. Would it be ok to continue on this canvas or have I ruined it? Should I remove the watery paint with some kind of solvent and start again?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • Michele Theberge

      You haven’t “ruined” it. It might not last forever but if it were me I would just go for it! Have fun. It’s just one painting of many. 🙂
      You could try to remove the paint with a clean wet rag or sponge. That would also tell you how well your paint “bound” to the surface.
      I’m having a live Q&A on facebook on Friday Sept 22 1 pm Pacific Time. Please join if you have more questions! https://www.facebook.com/Michele-Th%C3%A9berge-artist-141639189231397/


Leave a Reply to Camille Schaeffer

Click here to cancel reply.