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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

- What is the shelf life of acrylic paint?
- Why are different colours priced differently?
- I want that “oil colour look.” What can I do?
- My paint dries too fast. What can I do?
- My colours are too bright. How do I make them look more natural?
- My colours look dull and chalky. How do I brighten them?
- How do I make the colour flow like water, but stay brilliant?
- Is water the best additive for thinning acrylic colour?
- I’m on a really tight budget. What can I do to cut corners?
- What is the best surface for acrylic paint?
- Why is my finished acrylic paint surface powdery, flaking, or cracking?
- Why are some acrylic mediums milky, some translucent, and some clear when wet?
- Why do some acrylic colours seem to dry darker?
- How does the weather affect acrylic paints?
- How long will acrylic paintings last?
- Can I use Liquitex products with other brand name products such as Winsor & Newton?
- Can Liquitex Acrylic Paint be used on top of latex paint?
- What does the word “hue” mean when it is included in the colour name?
- I am painting a sign, which will be placed outside permanently. How should I prepare the surface I am painting?
- Why do I need to use two varnishes when using Soluvar Varnish?
- How can I remove varnish from my painting?
- Can I reuse an acrylic painted canvas?
- Can I paint in oils over my acrylic paint layer?
- How should I store my finished painting? 
- What’s a medium?
- What’s an additive?
- What do mediums and additives do?
- Are there any standard guidelines that I can follow when working with acrylic Liquitex mediums and additives ?
- I’m interested in creating multi-media work using acrylics. Is there anything I should not combine or layer with my acrylic paint?
- Does Liquitex have any written product information on applications and techniques ?

What is the shelf life of acrylic paint?

You can expect a 5-7 year shelf life from Liquitex acrylic products, provided the materials are stored properly at room temperature, kept tightly capped and kept free of contaminants. High temperatures, freezing and the use of tap water, dirty brushes and painting tools will all adversely effect the shelf life of the paint.

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Why are different colours priced differently?

The biggest factor in the cost of the artists’ colour is the pigment. Different pigments come from a variety of different sources, and cost from a little to a lot to refine, process, and mill into artists’ paint.

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I want that “oil colour look.” What can I do?

Use Liquitex Slow-Dri Blending Fluid or Gel to slow the drying and to help you with blending upon the painting surface. Experiment with Glazing techniques.

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My paint dries too fast. What can I do?

Minimize the use of water, and minimize heat and air flow in the painting environment. Make use of acrylic mediums to extend the colour, especially Slow-Dri Blending Fluid or Gel, Airbrush Medium, or Slow-Dri Fluid or Gel Retarder. Note: only one additive/retarder should be used within a colour mix. Combining additives can compromise the paint film stability.

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My colours are too bright. How do I make them look more natural?

Use a Liquitex colour chart to identify the mineral based colours (cadmiums, cobalt, ultramarine). These colours mix to the softer, more gray optical tone that we associate with natural light. Generally, these colours tend to be more opaque.

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My colours look dull and chalky. How do I brighten them?

It may be that you’re adding too much water, and spreading (underbinding) the paint film. Try adding Gloss Medium & Varnish instead of water.

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How do I make the colour flow like water, but stay brilliant?

Choose Liquitex Soft Body Professioanl Acrylic Colours. These colours have the same pigment load as the Heavy body colours, but are formulated to a more fluid consistency. Some water may be added for flow, but one of the following may be added as well to increase flow, while maintaining the stability of the paint film: Gloss Medium & Varnish or Matte Medium.

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Is water the best additive for thinning acrylic colour?

Water is, in fact, the solvent for the acrylic/water emulsion. You’ll find that you get the best performance—not to mention the most fun—out of acrylics if you make use of acrylic mediums to adjust the working properties of the colour. Save the water for clean up

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I’m on a really tight budget. What can I do to cut corners?

Artists’ colours aren’t cheap. But, as with any highly refined product, you get what you pay for. That said, there are some strategies that can help stretch the artist’s budget:

  • Use mediums to stretch and economize on colour
  • Use Ultra Matte Medium. It's formulated to increase the volume of paint without significantly cutting intensity of colour
  • Complete your underpainting with BASICS Value Series Acrylic Colours, and use the Liquitex Professional Acrylics Colours for the finishing layers

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What is the best surface for acrylic paint?

Acrylic colours are unbelievably versatile, and can be used on an almost infinite variety of surfaces: canvas, paper, leather, and glass (among others). Always conduct an adhesion test when working on more ‘unusual’ surfaces.

What’s the best way to prime a canvas for painting?

Size the canvas with one layer of Matte Medium, and then coat with one or two layers of Acrylic Gesso. With Liquitex Gessoes, you can choose between traditional white, neutral gray or black coloured Gesso, Clear Gesso, or Super Heavy Gesso.

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Why is my finished acrylic paint surface powdery, flaking, or cracking?

If your gesso or paint layer is powdery or unstable, you have, most likely, added too much water during painting. Water spreads the acrylic binder, leaving it less able to firmly lock the pigment into place on the painting surface. You’ll find that you get the best performance - not to mention the most fun - out of acrylics if you make use of acrylic mediums to adjust the working properties of the colour.

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Why are some acrylic mediums milky, some translucent, and some clear when wet?

Some acrylic mediums are milky because of the water content within the emulsion. Others include matting agents that make them appear milky. Other mediums are formulated with a clear resin, giving them greater clarity both wet and dry.

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Why do some acrylic colours seem to dry darker?

In general, the acrylic/water emulsion has a distinct milky colour when wet. And that milky appearance lightens the colour of the paint. As water leaves the emulsion, and the binder clarifies, the colour of the paint darkens. As acrylic chemistry has advanced, newer acrylic resins have become available that offer better and better clarity. As a result, colour shift in modern acrylics is of lesser consequence than in early paint products. It still plays a slight role with some colours, but not to the degree that it once did. This phenomenon is most noticeable with transparent dark pigments such as Alizarin and less so with light opaque pigments such as Cadmium Yellow.

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How does the weather affect acrylic paints?

Humid conditions slow down the drying. Hot, dry conditions will speed the drying considerably.

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How long will acrylic paintings last?

Follow sound painting techniques, work on a stable support, use artists’ quality primer, and with proper care and storage, an acrylic painting should remain stable for generations.

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Can I use Liquitex products with other brand name products such as Winsor & Newton?

Liquitex Acrylic Paint should be compatible with most other acrylic products, however the light fastness, flexibility, yellowing and UV protecting capabilities may vary from one product brand to another. Always do an adhesion test when using other products to determine compatibility.

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Can Liquitex Acrylic Paint be used on top of latex paint?

Water-based emulsion acrylics belong to a larger group called latex. Most people however are referring to latex house paint when using the term latex. The binder and pigment qualities in these paints are not artists’ quality. House paint quality latex becomes brittle with age and is therefore not recommended for use under artists’ acrylics.

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What does the word “hue” mean when it is included in the colour name?

Some colours have a “hue” designation at the end of their name as in Cadmium Red Medium Hue. When used in this way, hue is not a colour attribute but rather a replacement or alternate for a target colour. The “hue” colours many times yield higher intensities at a lower cost for pigments that are either unavailable, expensive or fugitive (not lightfast) or pose possible health hazards.

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I am painting a sign, which will be placed outside permanently. How should I prepare the surface I am painting on to ensure the sign remains in good shape and can be cleaned?

Begin with a wood product meant for outdoor use such as MDO Board. This is a type of plywood that is bonded with paper on one or both sides, available from sign making supply houses. Apply 2 – 5 coats of Liquitex Gesso, sanding between coats. Once the painting is complete, allow 3 days drying/curing time. Coat with Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish. Final varnish with Liquitex Soluvar (Matte or Gloss) or polyurethane varnish. Soluvar is a clear, flexible removable varnish and can be removed at any time for cleaning with mineral spirits. Polyurethane is a more durable varnish but is not flexible or removable and will yellow over time. Varnish both sides and edges to seal against moisture.

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Why do I need to use two varnishes when using Soluvar Varnish?

Gloss Medium & Varnish provides a buffer coat that protects the paint film against abrasion during future Soluvar removal for cleaning. Soluvar provides final UV varnish protection for the work.

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How can I remove varnish from my painting?

All Liquitex water emulsion-based varnishes are permanent and therefore NOT removable. Liquitex Soluvar Final Varnish is removable with mineral spirits. The steps to remove this varnish are:

  • Remove varnish in clean, well-ventilated area.
  • Wear a duel filter respirator (NIOSH approved) and neoprene gloves. Dampen a small piece of lint free, soft, white cloth with mineral spirits (not “odorless”) or turpentine – nothing stronger. Do not use ketones or paint removers.
  • Work horizontally. Apply mineral spirits generously and allow it to lay on surface for 15-30 minutes. Check periodically. Longer times may be necessary, depending upon age of artwork and strength of mineral spirits. If varnish is not dissolving or dissolving slowly, use a higher strength mineral spirits or turpentine (cover with plastic to slow down evaporation of mineral spirits). Stronger mineral spirits are not labeled as such, but have a stronger odor.
  • Rub cloth gently over a small area 1-2 square inches (3-5 cm') until varnish starts to dissolve.
  • Using a clean cloth and clean solvent, rub the area again to remove residue. Repeat this procedure for the entire area to be cleaned. If any paint colour shows on the cloth, stop immediately and allow the surface to dry.
  • Allow painting to dry before reapplying a fresh coat of Soluvar Final Picture Varnish.

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Can I reuse an acrylic painted canvas?

Yes, it can be painted over with acrylic or oil paint.

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Can I paint in oils over my acrylic paint layer?

It is generally not a good idea to apply oil paints over solid layers of acrylic paint. Oil films dry to a less flexible film than acrylics, and their application over the more flexible acrylic paint layer can be problematic. Oil applications over acrylics can be compared to applying Plaster of Paris on a rubber band – if you stretch the rubber band after the Plaster of Paris has dried, the plaster will crack and flake off. Over time, an oil layer that has been painted on top of an acrylic layer may experience the same results, as the under layer of acrylic paint shifts and moves due to atmospheric change.

 

How should I store my finished painting?

The best storage is in painting racks, separated from touching other paintings. The tops of the paintings can be covered to keep out dust. This allows for good ventilation to prevent mold growth. Paintings can also be stacked vertically with acid free cardboard separators. If paintings must be covered, use acid free tissue, followed by plastic film. Do not wrap tightly as to seal in moisture. Do not use bubble wrap as the bubbles can imprint into the canvas. Maintain mild temperature and low humidity levels. High and freezing temperatures can adversely effect the painting and painting/plastic interaction.

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What’s a medium?

Mediums are made with acrylic resin for adjusting how the paint works, feels and looks. They can be used to add texture, adjust the flow, and alter the working properties of the colour. Because they include acrylic resin, mediums maintain or add to the stability of the paint film, and can be used in any amount desired. Fluid mediums are labelled with a large letter ‘M,’ and gel mediums with a large letter ‘G.’ Texture Gels are labeled with a ‘T’ and Varnishes with a ‘V.’ Liquitex mediums come in a huge array of sizes, from 2 oz. Containers to gallon pails.

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What’s an additive?

Additives are used to adjust the chemistry of acrylic paints, and they don’t include a significant proportion of acrylic resin. The last part of that sentence is important because it means that additives should be used only in the amount needed to achieve the desired effect; adding too much can affect the stability of the paint film. They can be used to adjust the flow, or drying time of the colour. Additives are labeled with a large letter ‘A.’ As with all products, the directions should be read before use.

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What do mediums and additives do?

Mediums and additives help you do an almost infinite variety of different things with acrylics. From traditional painting applications on canvas and panel to watercolour on paper, to high-peak impasto, to glazing, to unique textural effects, acrylics can do it all. And there are mediums and additives to enhance usage on fabric, on leather, as a dye, and silkscreen. There’s no better colour for contemporary techniques such as image-transfer, for structural applications, and collage.

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Are there any standard guidelines that I can follow when working with acrylic Liquitex mediums and additives ?

  • For best results, always test before use.
  • Mix with acrylic paint to economically extend volume and/or control transparency of paint.
  • Mix into acrylic paint to add flexibility, adhesion, and long-term stability.
  • Mix gloss mediums into Liquitex acrylic paints to enhance depth of colour intensity, increase transparency, gloss, ease flow of paint and add flexibility and adhesion of paint film.
  • Mix matte mediums into Liquitex acrylic paints to increase matte sheen of dried paint film.
  • Liquitex Mediums extend the volume, while increasing the transparency of the colours. The exception is the Matte Opaque Extender Medium, which maintains the opacity of the colour while extending volume.
  • A thin film (1/16") of Liquitex Mediums may take between 1/2 hour to 24 hours to initially dry. A thicker film (1/4") may take between 2-5 days to initially dry.
  • The use of a hair drier will speed up the drying time of all Liquitex Mediums.
  • The use of an air-mister and humidifier will slow the drying time of all Liquitex Mediums.
  • Some mediums can be pressure sensitive in hot, humid weather and may stick to another surface if pressure is applied. To prevent, use Liquitex Soluvar (Gloss or Matte) as a final protection.
  • Avoid all oily, oil painted, greasy or waxy surfaces.
  • When painting on hard (impervious), slick (shiny) surfaces such as glass, Formica™, metal, enamel or hardboard, sand surfaces prior to applying any medium.
  • May be applied with a wide variety of tools such as brushes, palette knives, paint pads, sponges, spray gun or airbrush.
  • Vigorous brushwork over textured areas may cause bubbles to form within the paint film.
  • Do not overwork during application. If the medium is brushed heavily during drying, it can cause clouding. Once the film is clouded and dry, it cannot be clarified or removed. If an area is missed, allow surface to dry and then cover with another coat of medium.
  • Use matte mediums to prime surfaces and prepare supports (i.e. outdoor murals).

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I’m interested in creating multi-media work using acrylics. Is there anything I should not combine or layer with my acrylic paint?

Acrylics are restricted primarily by compatibility with other types of paints. Acrylics should not for instance be combined with paints that are made with different resins and binders. For example, acrylics should only be combined with acrylic polymer based paints and not be mixed for example with oil, latex or gum based watercolour paints…or layered with wax.  The flexibility of dry acrylic films along with the paints ability to adjust its working properties when wet, make it a totally unique and powerful artist material. In some ways, it can be thought of as the “go anywhere, do anything” paint. It is hard to cover all the bases when it comes to combining acrylics with the amazing variety of substances that can be used to create a work of art. The best advice that can be given in relation to multi-media work is that you should always conduct testing with the materials you plan to use, prior to beginning your piece, and you should be aware that guarantees concerning permanency or longevity of the art work may not exist.  A good place to start would be to make sure you have a working understanding of the acrylic paint film and how it dries.

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Does Liquitex have any written product information on applications and techniques ?

Yes. Liquitex publishes The Acrylic Book a comprehensive resource that details technical and application information about acrylic colours and mediums and the following Resource Guides: Medium & Additives for Acrylics, Liquitex Colour Chart and Basics Colour Chart. They are available at no cost.

I am concerned about the health and safety issues involved with using artists acrylic paint. How do I know that working with Liquitex products is safe?

Liquitex Acrylic Paints, Mediums and Varnishes are water based (and water clean up). There are no fumes associated with using Liquitex other than a slight ammonia smell. All Liquitex products are labeled "AP Non-Toxic" by The Art and Creative Materials Institute with the exception of the following: Cadmium Colours - Do not spray apply / Liquitex Soluvar Varnish - contains Mineral Spirits.

Toxicologists at the Art and Creative Materials Institute have been certifying safety and quality in art materials since 1940. New Liquitex labels use the AP symbol to indicate Non-Toxic but the phrase "Non-Toxic" has been removed due to European labelling standards. Liquitex products are also labelled for California Prop. 65 which requires that any trace amount (no matter how small) of a toxic substance appear on the label.

For more information you can contact the ACMI directly.
The Art and Creative Materials Institute
1280 Main St., 2nd. Floor
PO Box 479
Hanson, MA 02341
781-293-4100 Fax 781-294-0808

There is no natural latex used in Liquitex products. In fact, the only products ColArt (Liquitex parent company) manufactures containing rubber latex are Art Masking Fluid and Colourless Art Masking Fluid. Both these products are labelled for possible allergic reaction. There is no formaldehyde, peanut oil, dairy products, egg or wheat products used in Liquitex products.

All Liquitex colours have been TCLP analysed for RCRA 8 metals. The colours that exceeded EPA solubility limits for chromium are: Cobalt Green and Cobalt Turquoise.
With the exception of the Cadmium colours (Cadmium “Hue” colours are OK), Cobalt Green and Cobalt Turquoise, the entire line of colours is safe for use by children or in a child’s room.

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