Acrylic painting: Glazing Medium or Liquid

Glazing medium is used to create thin layers of transparent colour that sit on top of each other. It allows you, for instance, to create from red and yellow an orange that seems to glow in what we call an optical colour mix. Old masters like Rubens, Rembrandt, Da Vinci and others used glazing in their oil paintings extensively. With acrylic paint, you can create glazes too, but it follows a different methodology.

Both Liquitex and Golden Artist Colors have a dedicated glazing medium. Liquitex calls its single product dedicated to the job simply “Glazing Medium”, while Golden has two different types, one of which is called “Gloss Glazing Liquid” and the other “Satin Glazing Liquid”.

Both manufacturers’ glazing product are mediums, not additives. Additives don’t contain acrylic binders, mediums do. The binder is what makes the colour pigment powder stick to the surface it’s painted on. As additives don’t contain binder, adding them to your paint at some quantity is going to make the paint unstable with respect to its stickiness.

Mediums, on the other hand, are essentially glue, so no problem there.

Glossy mediums enhance the natural sheen and luminosity of a painting, while matte or satin mediums tone down the the pigment’s vibrance due to a lower reflectivity. That goes for glazing mediums too. Golden has an advantage over Liquitex here in as much as it gives you a choice between a high gloss and a satin finish.

Golden’s glazing products, however, have yet another advantage if you don’t create collages. When you glaze with Liquitex’s Glazing Medium, it becomes very sticky after less than 6 minutes (yes, I timed!), so much so that its sheer impossible to spread your paint. I’m pretty sure that, if I left my brush static on the canvas with Liquitex’s Glazing Medium applied, it would defy gravity when I’d release it. It would literally be stuck on the canvas.

I tried everything to alleviate that problem: adding water, adding their Slo-Dri Medium, but nothing helps, except paint faster. For those of us who can’t or simply won’t be rushed into painting larger surfaces in less than 6 minutes, the Golden glazing medium might be better.

To find out if it would, I purchased a bottle of Golden’s Gloss Glazing Liquid — Gloss to ensure I would be using the product with the same expected results — and went to glazing again. And guess what? Golden’s glazing product sticks, but it sticks nowhere near as hard as Liquitex’s. With Golden’s product I was able to glaze for about 10 minutes before the medium got sticky.

Liquitex’s Glazing Medium results in a high-gloss layer that is difficult to paint over with another layer because it’s slippery. Golden’s products are a bit slippery but they do not come close to the Liquitex product. Admittedly, their Gloss version isn’t as high-gloss as Liquitex’s, but that’s a price I’ll pay happily if it means I can paint layer upon layer without any problem at all.

If you paint with acrylic and you have experience with glazing with Liquitex Glazing Medium, do share your thoughts using the comments form below. I’m very curious to know what it is you think I’m perhaps ignorant of.