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

Using Gels and Pastes

As noted from the extensive list of uses above, there are not a lot of limitations or restrictions on the use of gels and pastes. Mix any quantity of Gel with GOLDEN Acrylic colors, or other Gels and/or Mediums. To thin, add water or a thinner GOLDEN Medium(s). When adding water to a gel, add in small portions with thorough and careful stirring at each addition of water. For slower drying, add GOLDEN Retarder, but do not exceed 15%, as it will result in a surface that will not lose its tack. Do not mix with oils. Paint on any non-oily surface. Abrade non-absorbent surfaces for increased adhesion. Minimum film formation temperature is 49°F/9°C. Avoid freezing. Cleans readily with soap and water.

Be aware that nearly all acrylics have a propensity to foam and get air trapped within them. This can be most dramatic when applying glazes and various translucent effects. Therefore, it is important to take proper precautions and to handle the materials carefully. This includes: avoid shaking, do not whip or stir excessively, refrain from generating a vortex during mechanical mixing and pour and handle slowly and carefully.

Drying times are influenced by many factors. The most important factors are the thickness of application and the temperature, humidity and air flow conditions in the working area. While acrylics surface dry, or skin over very quickly (sometimes within minutes), they typically take much longer, sometimes months, to thoroughly dry. Obviously, the thicker the film, the slower it is to dry. The development of clarity in the film does not occur until the gel or medium is fairly dry. A 1/4 inch thick film of a Gloss Gel will take a week or two, even in ideal conditions (70-80°F, relative humidity of 50% or less, and a moderate flow of air in drying area) to develop clarity. When humidity pushes over 80%, the same Gloss Gel may remain cloudy for several months.

Common supports (e.g. cotton canvas, linen, masonite) contain water-extractable materials that can cause discoloration in transparent glazes. This manifests itself as a yellow or brown tone, and is especially of concern when the glazes are thickly applied (greater than 1/16 inch wet film thickness). To minimize Support Induced Discoloration (SID), seal the support with GOLDEN GAC 100 or GAC 700, followed by gesso.

Note: multiple coats of gesso alone will not be sufficient to protect from SID.

One final point to make about the use of gels is that all of these products are NOT recommended as final picture varnishes. Generally speaking, these products do not have to proper balance of properties for such application. They are all either too soft, too hard, wrong consistency, or they simply foam up too much to be a clear topcoat. A final property that all lack is that of removability. None of the gels are truly removable, and this is an important consideration for purposes of being the final varnish.

While the world of gels and pastes may be vast and appears to be difficult to understand, a little knowledge and experimentation can open a whole new world of opportunities. There are certainly a few dos and don'ts, but there is still a great degree of freedom in the use of each member of this grouping, with each being able to be used in a broad range of applications and techniques. It is important to remember that the applications we as manufacturers have suggested for these products are simple starting points. Through each artist's unique vision, the gels and pastes will continue to be utilized in new and exciting ways, to create effects we would have never imagined possible.