Sunday, March 3, 2013

Golden Gel Mediums and Pastes Offer Exciting Acrylic Textures

Four Women on a Bench by Amy Lynn Hess, Golden Artist Color acrylic paint and gels on canvas

I haven't often used gel mediums and pastes in my own paintings.  To me, they always seemed to be a sticky mess.  However, I recently wrote to Golden Artist Colors, an employee-owned company based in New York, to request a sample of paint for testing. In addition to shipping a set of paints for me to test, Golden also sent a set of six gel mediums and pastes. In addition to testing their paints, I was more than happy to test something I have not had a lot of experience using.

Using Golden's Acrylic Gel Mediums and Pastes

All in all, I enjoyed testing Golden's Gel Mediums and Pastes, which gave me more of a feeling of control than when I have tried using other gel mediums and pastes in the past. I tested these materials while completing a small painting I've been planning for a few weeks.

As stated on the Golden Artist Colors Web site, a gel medium is like a "colorless paint" used to "build texture." The most inspiring thing about using these types of gels and pastes is that as long as they are used safely, there is no wrong way to use them. The literature I received with the set reiterates these ideas and offers intriguing photographs and examples of their uses.

Of the set of six, I chose to use the Coarse Pumice Gel, the Light Molding Paste, and the Clear Tar Gel.

Coarse Pumice Gel

I used the Coarse Pumice Gel to add a layer of sandy, gritty texture. I mixed the paint, then added about an ounce and a half dollop to the paint. I spread the gel over the canvas using a palate knife, then worked additional paint right into the wet pumice gel. I finished this layer by going back over the area with the palate knife. The visual effect reminded me of dot stipple, which I very much like, and it wasn't difficult to achieve. On the negative side, the sound of the pumice gel being spread across the canvas was not very pleasing, and I made more of a mess than I would ever normally make as small gobs of pumice fell off of the palate knife and painting.

Light Molding Paste

I used the Light Molding Paste to add leaves to my pumice-enhanced tree. I mixed the paint, then added a small bit of paste to the paint, mixed it, then used a small brush to push leaves onto my branches. The paste really built up on the brush, but it stayed put once I carefully applied it where I wanted it. After a few minutes, I added highlight and shadow to the paste, wet, like I had done with the pumice, but the paste did not respond well. I squished and flattened a few leaves in the process. I should have been more patient, but I like working while everything is still wet.

Tree in the Wind, by Amy Lynn Hess, Golden Artist Color acrylic paint and gels on canvas



Clear Tar Gel

I used the Clear Tar Gel last. Its use as suggested in the literature that came with the set is to use it to drip or drizzle onto a painting using a palette knife. I used it in that way without mixing it with color. For the essence of wind, I made swirls and circles of shine atop the painting. Its consistency is perfect for that type of use, and I like the effect it produced. The shine is nicely juxtaposed with the Coarse Pumice Gel and Light Molding Paste.

Pros and Cons of Using Golden Artist Colors Gel Mediums and Paste

In the past, I have found that gel mediums and pastes become sticky too quickly, they do not mix well with paint, or they sometimes do not stay put on the canvas. Although I experienced some of these negative attributes while using Golden's gels and paste, all in all, it was a positive experience. I was able to work wet into the gritty pumice for a beautiful result, the Clear Tar Gel worked exactly as stated, and although I was slightly impatient with it, the Light Molding Paste dried relatively quickly and kept its peaks and valleys.

I recommend any acrylic painters who may want to expand their uses of textures to try these Golden Artist Color products for themselves.


Golden Artist Colors, Inc. (n.d.). Golden Artists Colors Gel Mediums. [Web site]. Retrieved from Golden Paints Website

Want to read more about painting?  Try

How to Draw and Paint Folk Art Foxes
Painting Supplies for Beginning Acrylic Painters
Escoda MARFIL Brushes for Acrylic Painters

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Please contact the author for permission to republish.

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