How to test and analyze your acrylic mediums

What’s the best brand of acrylic paints?

I get asked that question a lot when I teach acrylic workshops.

When I was an undergraduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, a professor I liked and respected touted a particular brand of acrylics as the “best.” So, I took her word for it and started using that brand over others. But there are lots of excellent brands out there and once I became a bit more experienced, I got curious about what made different brands of paint different.

The truth is there are a number of good paints out there and rather than telling you about the merits of each, I thought I’d show you how I test acrylic mediums in my own studio. The results are always interesting. And this empowers you to make your own informed choices about what will work best for you.

Share in the comments below what brands you like to use? Do you stick with one brand for everything? Do you mix and match?
Have you ever had a really (or really great) bad experience with a particular paint or medium? Do tell!

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Using Acrylic Pouring Medium as a Non-Toxic Resin-Like Coat

I try to keep everything in my studio non-toxic and was excited when I developed this method for creating a resin look without using highly toxic epoxy resins.


Here I answer some specific questions I got from an artist in Guatemala on drying time with the pouring medium in different climates. Also, about adding gold leaf or other metal leaf in pouring medium. I got cut off but don’t worry, it continues in the next video.


Continuation of questions in previous video about using Pouring medium with inks and spray paint:

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Adding Texture to Your Paintings Using Ceramic Stucco & Flexible Modeling Paste

When I first switched over from oils to acrylics years ago – I was always trying to get away from the “plastic-y” look they had.

Then I discovered the array of gels and pastes that could take the standard paint texture from creamy to stiff to sandy to matte.

The two I show you in this video are still in my all-time favorites list.

Hope you enjoy it and let me know your thoughts! Have you used these before? What are your favorite acrylic gels? Any techniques you’d like to share?

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How to Do Stain Painting with Acrylics- Video Tutorial & Art Workshop

A lot of people recently when I tell them about my next in-person workshop have been asking me “What exactly is stain painting?” So I thought I would show you rather than tell you. In the late 50s and early 60s there was a move towards creating abstract canvases in which color became the primary subject matter and the paint itself practically merged with the surface. These painters created fields of color on large canvases which might envelop the viewer with their scale.  were some of the known “Color Field” painters among many others. Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis invented a particular type of Color Field painting called Stain Painting in which the liquid paint seeps into the fibers of an unprimed canvas.

© 47 Untitled, 1946

Here is a video from a talk I did at Portland State University in Oregon showing some simple preliminary steps to getting started with this gorgeous technique.

You can see from these photos, I like to encourage people to work large and get their whole body into it! We’ll be doing some yoga stretches to warm up – but don’t worry if your body won’t allow sitting on the floor, I have a big studio and plenty of table space, too.

These were taken in 2009 and 2011 in North Carolina. May 5 will be  the first time I have ever taught this workshop on the West Coast.

It’s a beautiful technique and so much fun to try! Come join us for an all-day workshop in my studio in Emeryville, CA Saturday, May 5. Click here to register.

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Inspirational quote-of-the-month – something savory and nutritional for your creative self…

Boredom is very important. Boredom is the origin of any good idea.

Francesco Clemente

Interview with Charlie Rose August 20, 2008

I have so many ideas and so much creative energy I cannot remember the last time I experienced boredom. On the advice of one of my mentors, I’ve decided this year to focus on a single body of work (Well, I need to complete some other projects first, but believe me, I have completely stowed away some works-in-progress because my tendency is to go off in a million directions!) I’m actually kind of excited to see if I experience some boredom in the studio and I’m wondering where it will lead me.

What do you think? Does boredom help you or hinder you? Please share your thoughts below. I’m curious to know.

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