Slowing down the drying time of glazes in acrylic

A question from the email bag - Mario asks: I'm interested in glazing, and I've been experimenting with this technique. But I'm running into some problems. I remember that at the workshop you mentioned that if we have any questions, we could e-mail you. For that reason, I'm taking the liberty of coming to you for help. Perhaps you will have the answers to my questions, but if not, maybe you can recommend a website with information or forward my questions to someone that might be able to help.

I'm using GOLDEN paint and acrylic glazing liquid. I'm painting on Arches, 140 lb. hot press paper. I start the art piece by applying an under painting of Van Dyke Brown. After I place one color over another to create a third; for example, blue over yellow to obtain green. Sometimes when applying the under painting and when applying the second color (blue) over the first (yellow) I'm getting hard edges, which are not allowing me to create smooth transitions. How can I reduce the risk of hard edges? Do you think the hot weather of Sacramento is making the paint dry too quickly? Can I use a retarder with the glazing liquid to extend the fluidity of the paint?"

Thanks for your question Mario. When glazing in acrylics you need to work on a fairly non-absorbent surface because you want as much moisture to remain as long as possible in the paint so that you can get smooth transitions.

The first thing I would advise you to do is to seal the surface of the watercolor paper with several coats of Golden's Soft Gel Gloss. This will create a less absorbent surface for you to work on. Alternatively, you could work on Golden's Molding Paste but I would suggest if you use Molding Paste that you work on either panel or canvas. Molding Paste has a very smooth, non-absorbent surface but also is fairly heavy so it should be used on a less flexible surface.

You didn't mention it in your email, but are you working in a hot, dry room? I know Sacramento gets really hot in the summer! You could add to the working time of the paint by using a humidifier in the room while you work. This will help the paint retain moisture and not dry out so fast. Remember that three things contribute to the drying time of acrylic paint: heat, low humidity and high air flow. So if you can make your room less hot, more humid and decrease the air flow, you will get a longer working time. (I still recommend good ventilation!)

Finally, what type of brush are you using? For smooth glazes that show very little transition, I recommend a badger blender. You can find these online but here's an example. Granted, they aren't cheap but they will definitely do the job!


Now, for my final recommendation, how about using OPEN from Golden? This is the very slow drying acrylic that we introduced recently. It's perfect for glazing and it's fool proof.