Understanding Acrylic Mediums

How These Extras Can Improve Your Painting!

"When I was but young painter, I started with my paints, my cup of water, and my brush and I was ready to take on the world. How dumb I was"- Rob of Jerry's Blog Squad

It's possible that when we decide to start painting, we all think a bit like our buddy Rob that all we will need to paint is just the paint, a brush and a canvas and our paintings will turn out like masterpieces. To be honest, that really is all you need. But why put a limit on what we can paint by sticking with just the bare minimum? With various mediums, you can completely transform your paints to have different textures and thicknesses and even create new effects with them. Although many new painters will not be familiar with mediums, an introduction to them can vastly change the way you paint.

 First of all, there are many types of mediums to use with acrylic paints. There are glosses, thickeners, modeling pastes and gels, varnishes, gessos and more. Here's a simple guide to some of our favorite  LUKAS Acrylic Mediums that we find are useful for improving and spicing up any acrylic painting. 

  • LUKAS CRYL Varnish- a quick drying, synthetic solvent that is transparent and can add to your painting an overall sheen. When painted over a dry painting, it can bring out the colors of your paints and protect it from acids, dust and decay. 
  • LUKAS Structure Gels- These gels can create an irridescent luster or glossy sheen when applied alone to your painting or mixed in with your acrylics on your palette. They retain your colors and can add an impasto quality to your painting. LUKAS has styles of structure gel like mother of pearl structure gel and glass beads structure gel for color mixing and can create neat effects.
  • LUKAS Structure Pastes- These can add some incredibly interesting textures to your paintings for realistic effects and impasto techniques. LUKAS offers a variety of styles of structure paste that can be perfect for what you like to paint. For example: Like to paint pictures of metal objects? The golden, silver, copper or bronze can offer a real metallic feel to these. These will dry to a hard, flexible surface that give your painting a largely exaggerated texture.
  • LUKAS Gel Retarder- This additive can increase the drying time for acrylic paints, its extremely useful for painting "wet on wet". Wet on wet or alla prima as it is sometimes called, is just painting wet paint on top of wet paint. This allows you to paint much faster and not wait for the paints to completely dry before you can paint again on top of it. Bob Ross was a big fan of wet on wet.
  • LUKAS White Gesso- Gesso is a white paint mixture made of a binder and pigment that can ensure flexibility and in your paint and increase archival life. You can use it to prime your canvas to make the canvas less absorbent, but give it better adhesion to make your paints go exactly where you want them to.


From left to Right:LUKAS Course Sand Modeling Paste, Pumice Structure Paste, Golden Modeling Paste and Mother of Pearl Structure Gel


"I use mediums in my acrylic painting a lot, and these mediums are wonderful! Acrylic paint needs to be worked quickly, as it dries quickly, but the LUKAS mediums keep the paint wet and fresh on the palette as well as on the paper or canvas, allowing better blending and workability. I highly recommend these mediums, which, by the way, work beautifully with other brands of acrylic paint!"- Sam Y.

"The structure gels really add some flavor and texture to my work. Its so much fun working with impasto and these gels let me get a 3D effect in my painting plus all the textures available give me so many options to work with, its great!"- MB

"Varnish is key in my acrylic painting, I use it because it lets my paint dry quickly. Im very, very happy with this product. I have to work quickly, but I have finished paintings faster than if I used something different. My paintings dry with a perfect glossy finish too, not too matte!"- T&A

With these kinds of mediums added to your paint or paintings, you remove the limits of what you think you can do with your paints as well as preserve your paintings very practically. So try them out and experiment and see how mediums can improve your artwork!


Underpainting: Why You Need to Do It

Develop Contrast and Values Before Color

Sometimes when starting a new oil painting, nothing can be more intimidating than a big white blank canvas staring you down. Each paint squeezed out on your palette looking more vibrant, vivid and intimidating. If you're the type of person who see's that blank canvas and it terrifies you like a killer clown in white makeup, then maybe underpainting might be the answer for you!

Underpainting and Finished Worked, Evening Flight by Jan Blencowe 

In painting, an underpainting is a first layer of paint applied to a canvas or board and it functions as a base for other layers of paint. It acts as a foundation for your painting and is a great way to start your painting off with some built in contrast and tonal values. It's a technique that was widely used by the old masters as a way to develop a plan for future color placement and to establish certain values and tones within a painting's color palette. An underpainting, if used correctly, is a great way to unite color values in the overall painting and add a subjective color key to the painting that will create a tonal dominance of the painting. 

Underpainting is simple, but can have major effects on the rest of the painting. It can invigorate areas of the painting that are mundane or uniform like a sky or rolling field. And, it can even act as an outline how the painting feels. For example:

  • A blue toned underpainting can make a painting feel cold, even if something is red-like a barn in wintertime against a white, snowy backdrop. 
  • A yellow toned underpainting is great for a swamp or desert scene, because the painting will seem like it takes place in a hot climate.
  • Some purples are great for warm layers later on, or for making shadows.

There are two types of underpainting:

1. Tonal Grounds Under Painting- This type of painting has the entire canvas covered in a single transparent color. This layer will create backlighting shadows that will tone the entire painting and provide contrast for complimentary colors.



(Perfect for contrasting complimentary colors to appear warmer)

2.A Tonal Under-Painting- Still using just one color to cover your canvas; in a tonal under-painting, map out where you want the darker and lighter areas. In this version, you can leave certain areas unpainted to let some white canvas stick through. As you apply more colors when you start your "real" painting, the white canvas will shine through even greater and appear much brighter. As a whole, this technique can give you brighter top colors and a head start on developing subjects in your painting.



(In this underpainting, values are added and the designs for the painting are being mapped out)

Side Note: You can also color in your areas with different local colors instead of leaving the canvas blank .This type of color blocking can make the composition seem a bit more edgy or dramatic even when you paint over it with complimentary colors later on. It will also take away that blank white canvas space.


When attempting an underpainting, one of the best ways to start is by thinning your paint with a bit of turpentine which will thin the pigment and then lift off a bit and blend in with later layers of paint as you continue with your painting highlighting the underpainting and the extra work you've done (We suggest LUKAS Turpentine with oil paint). Other thinning mediums can help as well, but need to be applied lightly or you risk the outer layers cracking and peeling as time goes on. 

The paint you choose is also important in underpainting. A poor underpainting can make the overall painting muddy. A paint that mixes well and has a great high pigment load can really make a difference. LUKAS 1862 Oil Paints are perfect for mixing and layer terrifically. However, if you're new to painting and are just trying things out, SoHo Urban Artist Oil Colors might fit your budget a bit better and you will still get a great quality paint for mixing and layering.

Underpainting is a great way to grow as a painter and learn without having the overbearing presence of a stark white canvas in front of you making each first stroke of color seem more important and final than they really are. It can add a world of depth and value to your work that change the way you see color and tonal values. 


Top 10 Perfect Summer Paintings

Inspiration for the First Day of Summer!

As today is the Summer Solstice and the First Day of the Summer Season, we at the blog squad sure needed some inspiration and with the sweltering heat of summer upon us we did some research and pulled up some of the best representations of what summer is from front porches to the beach to fireflies and lightning storms. Now that we're inspired, we can keep sharing with you art tips, news and the best in new products and art supplies from Jerry's Artrama. Along with tons of great upcoming content, we thought we'd share a little summer inspiration with the Top Ten Summer Paintings of all time:

10. Rhyl Sands by David Cox

The summer was meant for beach weather!


9. Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

 And picnics by the lake


8. Bigger Splash by David Hockney

Can't be summer without jumping in a pool 


7. Second Story Sunlight by Edward Hopper

 A beautiful vista is key during a warm summer morning


6. Summer Evening by Isaac Levitan

 This painting could use some fireflies, but its pretty much a perfect summer evening


5. Wheat Field with Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh

 You can see the heat thermals rising from the ground


4. Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

 Summer, when everything is in bloom


3. Un-named Illustration by Bernie Fuchs


Wouldn't be summer without a lightning storm 


2. Tahitian Landscape by Paul Gauguin

 Summer in the tropics


1. Un-named Illustration by Bernie Fuchs

Can you a picture a more perfect summer evening?


Have your own summer art you love? Share it in the comments below!

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