Photo of a gel medium demonstration given by Michele Théberge
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Hi there! Today I’d like to share a bit of information about acrylic gel mediums.
What is a gel medium?
Gel mediums are basically colorless acrylic paints. They are the binder that is used in acrylic paints – without any pigment added for color – so they dry clear (gloss) or mostly clear (matte).
Why are there so many types of gel mediums?
There are many different types of gel mediums for two reasons. First, gel mediums are offered in both a gloss and a matte finish. Second, gel mediums are offered in different consistencies – or viscosities. Gel medium can be “heavy” like thick paint or peanut butter, or “soft” like butter that has sat out on the counter, or somewhere in between.
Mediums called “glazing mediums” or “polymer mediums” are the consistency of fluid acrylics. And mediums called “airbrush mediums” are runny like water or ink.
It just depends on how thick or thin you want the medium to be when you use it.
What is the difference between gloss and matte?
Gloss mediums have nothing added and are pure acrylic polymer (the binder in acrylic paints). Acrylics are a form of plastic, and naturally dry with a shine or sheen. This is how a “gloss” medium will dry. It will dry completely transparent.
A “matte” medium has an additive, to help reduce the shine. Basically, miniature white flecks are added, to cause the light to reflect differently when it hits the surface of matte medium, to reduce the shine or sheen. However, this means that matte medium will not dry completely clear. You will lose some transparency and a bit of a white glazing effect will be seen.
If you want a matte finish to your project, it is best to use a gloss medium as you create all the layers in your project, and only use a matte medium at the end, as a final top coat. Why? Because if you layer matte medium on top of matte medium, you’re layering miniscule white flecks on top of each other, and your project will become more and more opaque and the whitening will become more and more obvious.Before and after a MATTE gel medium was applied
The photos above shows the difference before and after a matte gel medium was applied to this art journal page. The images were all initially glued down with gloss medium. I added matte medium as a final coat in the bottom photo. If you compare the two images, you can see the whitening or dulling effect of the matte medium.
How to use gel medium as a glue
One of my favorite uses for gel mediums is to use them as glue in collage projects. This short, 3-minute video by Claudine Hellmuth, shows you how to use gel medium as a glue:
Please note that in her video, Claudine uses a matte medium. As I mentioned before, if you want a matte finish, it is best to use matte medium only at the end of your project.
I do like Claudine Hellmuth’s Studio gloss and matte “multi mediums.” They are soft and creamy. I also really like Golden Artist Color gel mediums and other acrylic mediums, like polymer medium. And I like Liquitex gel mediums, glazing mediums, and airbrush mediums.
If you want to use gel medium as a glue, a soft gel medium is recommended.
Why use gel medium as a glue?
Because gel mediums are made using the same archival binder as acrylic paints, using gel mediums as a glue creates a durable, archival-quality bond. Gel medium used as glue is archival and has a durable, water resistant, UV resistant surface.
You can use gel medium as a glue with any type of surface that is suitable for water-based acrylics. Certain materials that do not work well with acrylics – like glass or certain plastics – should be avoided. Acrylics do not bond well with these surfaces.
Want more information?
There is another video, this time by Patti Brady, director of Golden Artist Colors’ Working Artist Program, in the top right corner of this page: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/medsadds/gels/gels.php. Click on the “Full” button in the lower left corner of this video, to view it full-screen.
Thanks for stopping by!