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Gel Properties
Gel & Paste Properties / Differences Between Gels & Mediums / Size Chart /
Using Gels & Pastes
/ Gel Applications / Product Review / Back to Index Page

What Gels and Pastes Do

While GOLDEN offers a wide selection of gels and pastes, that is not to say that each one has limited uses. Because of their very nature, most gels and pastes can function in a variety of ways, yielding numerous results. The section that follows lists the most traditional use of such products, but by no means is it intended to be an all encompassing and exhaustive list. There are numerous ways in which these products can be successfully applied.

One of the primary roles of gels and pastes is to extend the product for economical reasons. One can actually create "student grade" paint by adding a gel or pastes into our existing paints. For this purpose, there are basically no limitations as to minimum or maximum levels of gels or pastes that can be safely (from an archival viewpoint) added into the paint system.

For purposes of controlling transparency of paints, adding gels and/or mediums offers a useful tool. Nearly all gels and paste are effective for this purpose, with the exception of those that are opaque (the Pumices and Molding Pastes). The Gloss Gels are most effective, especially when highly transparent glazes are desired, and the glazes are to be applied thickly (greater than 1/8 inch wet film thickness). The Matte and Semi-Gloss products will increase the translucency of the paint, but will not yield genuinely transparent glazes. This is the result of the matting agents in such products, detracting from the overall transparency. One additional point to make is that the milky acrylic emulsion eventually dries translucent, and this must be kept in mind when determining the amount of color to add to gels and pastes.

When the desired outcome is to extend the paint without increasing transparency, then the addition of Molding Paste is beneficial. Since pastes are made of various solids they will increase the opacity of the paint. While there are some products available that are marketed specifically to increase opacity of paints, GOLDEN Molding Pastes work well for this purpose. It must be understood that the addition of such products will result in a color shift to a lower chroma (and possibly lighter value) color.

Another frequent use of the gels and pastes is to alter the consistency or body of the acrylic paints (for further discussion of consistency, see section on Differences between Gels and Mediums). When one needs GOLDEN Heavy Body or Matte Acrylics to be thinner or flow better, the addition of nearly any one of the Mediums or the Soft Gels will prove helpful. When additional body is required in the Heavy Body and/or Matte Acrylics, the Heavy Gels, Extra-Heavy Gels or High Solid Gels may be added. The gels and pastes can be used with any other acrylic paint line, such as GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics, for similar purposes.

The gels are offered in a variety of reflectances, including Matte, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss. This allows the artist freedom in creating the desired sheen in the artwork, by blending the appropriate gel with the paints. The typical higher gloss of GOLDEN Heavy Body or Fluid Acrylics can be reduced by adding any of the matte gels or pastes. Similarly, to increase to gloss of GOLDEN Matte or High Load Acrylics, the addition of a gloss gel or medium will prove effective. More subtle modifications can be created using the semi-gloss products, or a combination of a matte and gloss gel or medium.

A common use of the thicker gels or pastes is to build relief, or 3-dimensionality, onto the support. For this, GOLDEN Heavy Gels, Extra-Heavy Gels, High Solid Gels and Molding Pastes are valuable tools. The Light Molding Paste holds the highest peaks and structure, and is also the best choice when building very thick applications (because of less weight buildup). GOLDEN Pumice Gels are suitable when generating granular or pebbled surfaces (either 3-dimensional or flat).

The majority of gels and mediums are nearly pure binder; they can be utilized to increase the dry film integrity of weakened systems. When an excessive amount of dry pigment or extender has been added into a paint (typically observed as cracking or chalky quality in the dry paint film), the addition of a gel or medium can correct the problem. Another weakened paint system is a paint/water blend, in which there is more water than paint. If such a mixture is to be applied on non-absorbent supports (i.e. in non-stain applications), then a gel or medium should be added so that no more than half of the entire mixture is water. Note that Gloss products work best for these sort of requirements.

When making one's own paint from dry pigment, the various Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Matte gels or mediums serve well as the binder that forms a continuous film, encasing the pigment. The Gloss products have the greatest binding capabilities, while that of the Matte and Semi-Gloss products is somewhat reduced (the result of already containing the matting agents responsible for the lower sheen).

Another frequent use of such products is as a glue for collaging materials together. This technique is valuable when collaging any materials to which the water-based acrylics have no difficulty bonding. Certain materials, such as glass and certain metals and plastics, should be avoided. Because of their greater binding capabilities, the Gloss products are the preferred choices for gluing collaging materials; however the other sheens function at satisfactory levels. Generally, we recommend the Soft Gel Gloss for collaging.

Another application of the gels and pastes is to prime and prepare various supports. This is beneficial whenever one wants a translucent primer in place of an opaque gesso, to allow the nature of the support to show through. For this purpose, the most commonly used products are the Matte Medium and GAC-100. The thicker gels can be used, but one must be careful in application to avoid holdout (the lack of adequate bonding between gel and support). Use of sufficient pressure during application, to force the gel into the tooth of the support, can overcome this problem.