Between a week long vacation and now being in the middle of a move, I’m going to fill some of my usual social media tips and weekend vlogs with your questions to make things easier on me during this busy couple of weeks, and to knock out some of your questions at the same time!
Amanda asks: Hi Lisa-I had a question about Liquitex airbrush medium. I’ve recently started using this medium to thin my paint (instead of water) and have wonderful results. I started doing this because I heard that if you water down your paint for a thin wash to tone the canvas, it can potentially not adhere and peel off. (Mind you, I’ve been using only Fredrick canvas for 10years) It freaked me out, naturally. How do you feel about using airbrush medium for this kind of work, as well as using it to thin for glazing?
Just curious to get your thoughts.
There is a video out there that tells people not to thin their paint with water or their paint will flake or peel. It’s full a little bit of fact and LOTS of misinformation and is helping to spread this fear.
Adding water to your acrylic paints or airbrush paint will cause the paint to be more translucent and make the paint less adhesive. The surface you’re painting on does make a difference, but the paint you’re using makes the biggest difference. Some of the cheap paints do have problems with lifting off the canvas when glazing over them, even without added water. Too much water to even the best acrylics can cause the paint to lift when you add additional wet layers.
The thing is, once the paint is dry and you varnish your finished painting, it’s not likely to come off that canvas. I’ve even used liquitex that I thinned down like crazy one a table I painted a space and dolphin scene on. I also used comart airbrush paint which totally lifts when water or wet paint is added over on that same table. When I was finished, I used a spray varnish by Krylon, then a heavier varnish that I painted on after. I used to stand on that table regularly to reach different things I had above it. It was also next to my saltwater reef tank I had at the time for about 7 years. I was so hard on this table between spilling saltwater on it regularly, and standing on it, yet no damage was ever done to the surface that I had painted. A good varnish is going to protect your work, even if you use a lot of water.
Another good example was an acrylic dolphin painting that I had sitting on my floor. I had again watered that paint down quite a bit as I worked. When finished, I varnished like mentioned above. I spilled Pepsi all over it one day (ah how I miss my days of drinking pepsi all the time!). There was absolutely no damage done to the painting. If adding water to my mixture, either the acrylic paint or the airbrush paint was such an issue, both of these paintings should have been trashed.
I’ve been painting with acrylics for 20 years, and have always thinned my work down with water. Never once have I had paint peel or lift off a finished painting once that varnish was on. If you’re using crappy acrylics or a canvas that had bad gesso applied your work may have issues peeling or flaking no matter what you do.