Getting Started with Gel Meduims

Getting Started with Gel Meduims
Gel Mediums are a fantastic product for artists to have in their arsenal. Gel mediums help create texture on your canvas, can be used to mix your own glazes, change the consistency of your paint, and even add elements like sand or tiny glass beads. The range of gels available on the market is truly amazing. Gel Mediums range from soft to hard, from heavy to extra heavy all the way to tar gel and even self leveling gel. They have different finishes including matt & high gloss. What you choose is up to you.

Gel mediums can also be used to glue down papers or other mixed media and serve as a base coat between layers of paint. They can also be used when doing image transfers. Check out google for directions. There are several good articles around the web on using gel mediums for image transfers but for our purposes, I'm interested in creating my own images with gel mediums, not using someone else's.

To get started head to your favorite art supply or hobby store that sells artist quality paints. In the acrylics area you are likely to find a selection of gel mediums along with samples of the different thicknesses and finishes. There are several online stores that also carry different gel mediums and usually have great pictures however, if you haven't used gel mediums before I recommend visiting a store with samples so you can see and feel the differences. If you live in a remote area and a visit to a store is not possible, don't let that stop you. Read customer reviews and jump in. Gel mediums are fun. Either online or at a retailer, pick one or two that strike your fancy and take them home.

Now comes the fun part, get out your current favorite acrylic paint colors (mine right now are pool & green gold) and some paper or canvas & your pallet for mixing paint. Then take as much or as little of the gel medium as you like and add your paint. Mix well with a brush or pallet knife. Then add to your paper. Next add some of the plain acrylic paint to your paper.

See the difference? How cool is that?

*Create a sample board, canvas, or paper with your different mediums so you have something to refer back too when you are painting.
*Keep your sample in a visible location, like on your inspiration board or hung on the wall for easy reference.
*Always clean your brush really well after using gel mediums or your brush will be ruined
*Wipe the rim of the lid before you close the jar back up otherwise it sticks (since mediums can be used as a glue, you are basically "gluing" your lid closed). I keep baby wipes in my studio & they work great for this particular job.
*Have fun creating different layers and textures. Its okay to get messy and just play when you are learning to work with a new tool.
*Your sketchbook and/or artist journal are excellent places to experiment with gel mediums
*Choose a gel medium that is archival. You don't want your masterpiece to breakdown after a few years.
*Gel mediums can also be used as a binder if you are making your own paints
*Gel mediums cannot be mixed with oil paints

Do you have a gel medium tip? Head over to the painting forum & share with our painting community.

Happy creating,

Maribeth Lysen
BellaOnline Painting Editor

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