Draw on Anything with GOLDEN Grounds

Turn any surface into a drawing surface with GOLDEN Acrylic Grounds and Mediums!

According to a recent survey conducted by NAMTA*, over 2/3 of all artists regularly draw. Because of its accessibility, immediacy and portability, many artists who enjoy drawing have limited experience with other media. Acrylic mediums provide a bridge from drawing on sheets of paper to drawing on much larger substrates, traditional prepared surfaces like canvas and panel, or found objects and dimensional surfaces. The ability to create a surface suitable for pencil, pastel, charcoal, marker or watercolor also brings new flexibility to the creative process and potential. In this lesson plan, we’ll explore a few of these possibilities as a starting point for drawing on anything, with anything, and wherever.

*2012 NAMTA Artists & Materials Study

GOLDEN Silverpoint / Drawing Ground


One (or more) of the following GOLDEN Acrylic Grounds or Mediums:

  • Acrylic Ground for Pastels
  • Micaceous Iron Oxide
  • Coarse Molding Paste
  • Fine Pumice Gel

Your choice of drawing media (or watercolors):

Tools for application and clean-up:

  • Paint brush, ideally flat with short bristles
  • Palette knife (may be used in lieu of a brush)
  • Plate, or dish for mixing medium with your choice of Heavy Body or Fluid colors (optional)


Assuming most artists have a preferred drawing medium, the first step for this project is to identify a new or different, possibly an unconventional surface you would like to draw on. There are just a couple criteria that help ensure your success:

  • Choose something with enough structural integrity to withstand the application of an acrylic medium and your mark making. Avoid anything flimsy or breakable, or that would be damaged by a waterborne substance.
  • Choose a clean or cleanable surface. Remove any dust and loose dirt before applying any new materials to a surface.
  • Stretch yourself, but be realistic. Please, push your boundaries, but if the largest piece you’ve created is 9×12″, try some intermediate sizes before taking on a mural. Similarly, if you’ve never worked three dimensionally, choose a smaller and more basic shape for your first dimensional piece.
  • Acrylics need to stick! It seems obvious, but this only works on materials to which acrylics can form a sufficient bond. For glass or metal, you may need additional materials and preparations* to improve adhesion. For certain plastics, like HDPE, adhesion may not be possible.
    *For non-porous surfaces, see our notes and recommendations related to GAC 200, a specialty acrylic polymer available from GOLDEN that can be used to improve adhesion. For more detailed technical information, visit: goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/gac100s.php

START: Choose a space for applying your acrylic medium to the surface that is also clean, well-lit, and has moderate ventilation. There are little or no fumes associated with acrylics, however a little ventilation will remove any odors that are present and accelerate drying.

TEST: Brush out a small test of your chosen medium, ideally on a small sample piece or hidden area of your chosen surface.

Allow your test area to dry, then apply your chosen drawing media on the test piece. Consider the opacity or transparency, as well as the color of the acrylic medium you’ve chosen.

To alter the color, add a small amount of any GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics or GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylic Paints. Add Titanium White to increase the opacity and brightness of your medium or ground.

If you choose to add a color to your ground or medium, start with a small amount and add more color very slowly. It is much easier to increase the intensity of a color than to dilute color after you’ve added too much.

Golden grounds

APPLY: Prepare your drawing surface by simply applying the acrylic ground or medium. Here are some tips for a more successful application:

  • For dimensional or textured objects, use a brush.
  • On flat materials, a palette knife works well for reducing texture and creating a smooth surface.
  • Two (or more) thin coats are usually preferred to one heavy coat, however most grounds and mediums will provide a surface ready for drawing with just one complete coat.

DRY: Drying time varies significantly depending on the absorbency of the surface to which the acrylic was applied, the thickness of the application and environmental conditions. Steady air-flow and low humidity will accelerate drying. Ideally dry overnight before handling.

DRAW: Choose your medium and apply it to the surface you have prepared!

Check out the video below to see artist Steve Nyland using GOLDEN Acrylic Ground for Pastels to prepare a non-traditional surface for drawing!

Acrylic grounds or mediums will provide a consistent and receptive surface for drawing without altering the qualities inherent to the drawing medium chosen. Charcoal and pastels will still smudge and watercolors will remain sensitive to water. In addition, the acrylic base you’ve applied for your drawing is compatible with most fixatives, clear coats and varnishes.

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