Focus on Learning to Paint

by Neadeen Masters on April 14, 2015

After a recent conversation with a student, it was evident that she was missing the point of what it takes to become a proficient painter. She selected her class based only on subject rather than the learning outcome. After some lengthy discussion, and explaining the huge benefits of learning a wide spectrum of concepts and techniques, she finally understood what learning to paint is all about. Perhaps you need to focus on learning to paint?

Here are a couple of points we discussed…

  1. If all you focus on is painting a single flower, all you’ll ever paint is a single flower. Rather…Focus on what you’ll learn when painting the flower…how the petals are formed, how they turn and curl, how to make them look translucent, how to make their stems look round…etc.
  2. If all you focus on is painting a wave, all you’ll learn to paint is a wave. Rather…Focus on what you’ll learn about moving water, light, the transparency of water and how light passes through it. Focus on the color changes, the shape and form of the wave as it curls and casts a shadow…then relate this to painting the flower! In regards to actual painting, what do they have in common? Think about it… light passes through a flower petal in the same way it passes through a breaking wave! The wave curls and the petal curls. They both share a similar form (the cylinder) The flower petals cast shadows, and so does the wave cast shadows.
  3. Everything about painting is related. The concepts and principles we learn are applied to whatever we paint. The most important point is learning all of them so we can paint anything and everything! That’s what artists do, they learn concepts and principles.

About Learning to paint…

The Art Apprentice Online offers painting and art theory classes geared to teaching techniques and sound art principles. The information offered in these classes is timeless. Like investing in good art books, you’ll keep referring to them as your skills grow. On each visit you’ll make new discoveries and understand art principles in different ways! Learning to paint with confidence takes more than choosing pretty pictures. That’s the easy part! It’s about understanding color and its properties, how to create depth and dimension and being able to rely on your own instincts and know how when painting alone.

Learning to paint - Color Theory - Intensity study online painting lesson at Art Apprentice Online

Your online classes at the AAO (Art Apprentice Online) provide you with continuous classroom access. As you grow as an artist, your instructors at the AAO are always there to help you understand and make your artistic journey an active and ongoing process. Your time doesn’t run out and neither does access to your instructors who also provide you with in-depth written text lessons, line drawings, and several hours of painting videos so you can watch the techniques up close.

Art theory classes NEVER grow old! Like art books and fine wine, they get more valuable with age…providing a resource that’s more enjoyable and beneficial as time passes.

Art Apprentice Online Classes


Painting from Photographs Techniques

by Neadeen Masters on April 4, 2015

Painting from Photographs Techniques

Playing up the colors to create a new piece of art.

Image Copyright Neadeen Masters – 2015 – All rights reserved.

For those of us artists who enjoy painting from photographs, its not always easy to know what to keep or edit from our final images. Here are some techniques that I use to help me reach a successful composition to paint. Not every photograph makes a perfect image, but thankfully,  photo editing software can help us work miracles. Here’s a good example of a ‘nothing special’ image… that’s what I like to call them. I was hurriedly shopping in a little antique store in West Virginia.  It had the best collection of vintage colored glass on display. These colorful candy jars sat on a glass shelf with the sun streaming in behind them, so I quickly snapped a photo and below is the result. It isn’t a great image, but its good enough to look back on and perhaps do something with in the future. Well… the future is now!

Painting from Photographs at Art Apprentice Online

Techniques I Use –  Look for Hidden Assets

Study your photographs and make notes about color, line, light, quantity of light, image details etc…Ask yourself…Do I leave it as is, or do I compose a whole new arrangement? Taking time to completely rearrange the objects would mean changing the perspective from what it is. This would then involve re-drawing the jars from a different vantage point. Hmmmm? Yes! That’s a huge amount of work for sure. I might also loose the effects of the light on the jars that caught my eye in the first place.  The stained glass effects, the twinkling of the light and the way it bounced around inside the empty containers. I stress empty…why you might ask? If the containers were filled with candy, or other contents, the light would not pass through the translucent jars in the same manner. The overall effects of the bouncing light would be lost!

Painting colorful glass containers

Looking Into the Details of the Photographs

On close inspection of the photograph, I could see there were many lovely colors hiding in the details.  Not just red and green as the image shows, but turquoise, yellow, orange, blues, yellow green, lime green and aqua! As an artist we are not bound by what the photograph first dictates, we can emphasize what ever we want. As the goal in this exercise was to catch the bright sunshine, it  allows for the exaggeration of the yummy colors.  It allows one to change the tempo of the painting to suit any mood we wish to re-create. Originally, when I took the photograph I was in a happy place, the bright colors felt exciting and I was also thrilled to see such a vast and lovely collection of colorful vintage glass.  Finally…I wanted to leave the three jars positioned as is…clean up the perimeter, but allow all these beautiful happy colors to sing!

Playing up the colors to create a new piece of art.

Image Copyright Neadeen Masters – 2015 – All rights reserved.

Above is what I consider a final image that is as close to the original vision I had for this playful composition. The array of colors, both warm and cool are well balanced and the neutral background supports the overall concept. (Note the subtle colors reproduced in the background) While the slope of the shelf edge draws attention, it is completely balanced by the bold color both above and below it. The jars with their vertical lines and size add strength to the painting and the diagonal line of the shelf adds movement and temperature contrast. The strong sunshine streaming in from behind is described with the use of lost edges on the jar lids and the exaggeration of the intense color palette.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and join me, Neadeen Masters for some fun online painting lessons at the Art Apprentice Online

Join our facebook group for some good art and painting discussions.


How to Define Painting Styles?

by Neadeen Masters on July 17, 2014

Painting Style is what you make it!

Every artist‘s goal should be to understand different painting styles… This might better suggest the desired outcome of the learning process. As we experiment and explore, learning as we go, we find that some paintings appeal to us more than others. When this happens, we are actually honing in on the differences between painting styles. We begin to know what we like and don’t like. Only then can we focus on learning the nuances of a style that we might want to make our own.

Learn a loose painting styleClaude Monet – Impressionist – Loose painting styles… 

Painting styles are usually associated with an era in art history, defined by the influences of certain schools of thought. For example, the impressionists had a great influence on generations of artists who followed. Their application of paint, along with the loose suggestions of forms bathed in light created quite a stir in the art community. They had broken away from traditional painting methods working in a manner that would clearly set them apart. They developed a different  and unique style… But even as a group of artists who shared specific beliefs about light and color, they still created their own individual styles.

Learn sharp focus painting styles at Art Apprentice Online

Many of the Old Masters can also be recognized for their individual painting styles. How they blended color, their particular brush work, their rendering of compositional forms helped define their individual painting styles. Sharp focus realism as defined in the glass study painting featured above was rendered by artist Sue Pruett and is a specific style of painting. One can see the dramatic differences between the two examples of painting styles. One loose and one very disciplined.

So how do you develop your style?

First, try to zone in on artwork which appeals to all your senses. Both visual and tactile comes into play. Do you like a clearly defined rendering of realism, or do you like the loose suggestion of form?  Are you drawn to relief textures and heavy impasto paintings that beg to be touched?  Are you more at peace with smooth surfaces and sharp focus that looks photographic? Each has its own beauty, but will determine what you must learn to incorporate into making your personal style.

What defines your painting style?

For starters, brush technique and paint application must be understood. Both of these steer the course. Art principles and art theory apply regardless of style, but paint application and blending methods will be the driving force towards the development of YOUR personal style.

What classes will help me discover my own style?

  • Blending methods – Discover and learn blending methods to help paint sharp focus realism styles.
  • Blending Methods – Discover and learn a wet in wet loose application that is more direct – to help me discover a looser style.
  • Working with textures and using less definition – Mixed Media will help me discover a style with more of a free spirit.
  • Edges – Learning about lost and found edges will help artists understand what is needed to define both sharp focus and loose styles. This is an important concept.

At Art Apprentice Online you can learn many painting methods and techniques to help develop unique painting styles.


How to Learn to Draw

Our reasons for wanting to learn how to draw, or our reasons for not wanting to learn, can be as diverse as we are as individuals!    The development of skills associated with drawing and learning to really understand the basic principles of perspective can help us in all of our artistic endeavors.  It may be that we want to be able draw out our ideas, or to make things look more realistic, or to improve our ability as a painter.  And even if we would just like to be able to draw animals or faces or some other specific thing it still takes starting at the beginning and gradually working towards our goal. 

It’s Never Too Later to Learn Drawing

Adults are often afraid to try something new, even when it is something they have always wished they could do.  It is not necessarily that we are afraid of failure but sometimes we are convinced we couldn’t ever do it or at least not well enough to satisfy us so we opt to not even try.   But the good news is that anyone can learn to draw and it’s never too late to start!

Michelangelo said, “What the eye can see, the hand can draw.”   That said, there is what I consider one qualifier:   If you can write or print your name legibly along a line on a paper you have enough dexterity and eye hand coordination to draw.   The only other thing you really need is desire.  Of course paper, pencil and an eraser would also be pretty high on the list of needs and someone knowledgeable to guide you along would also be very helpful.

learn how to draw - online drawing class by Donna H Richards

When we learn how to draw we are interpreting what we observe

“Drawing” and “seeing” are so intertwined that the two can’t really be separated.  When we draw we are interpreting what we observe. Developing our observational skills so our brain can tell our hand what to do is one of the most important parts of learning to draw or improving our drawing ability.   As we learn and develop greater observation skills we recognize the differences and similarities between things and this is the most important key in learning to draw and in improving our ability to draw.

I have talked to dozens of people who have told me that they have started drawing lessons several times but get discouraged and drop out, or that they’ve bought a few books but couldn’t really work through them on their own.   I honestly think that especially as adults we tend to be impatient with ourselves and have unrealistic expectations.   I have to laugh when I think of the idea of learning to draw well in just a few weeks.  It does take time and practice to develop and improve our skills.  If you are a first timer when it comes to learning how to draw you need to allow yourself to start at the very beginning and to actually be a beginner.   Yes, it is doable and even YOU can learn to draw but you do need to take the first step¸ practice, and be patient with yourself!

Learn how to draw - by Art Apprentice Online

Learn how to draw – Take a Beginning level Drawing class

I currently teach a beginning level Drawing class at the Art Apprentice Online Art School.   You can work in privacy at your own speed anytime of the night or day, ask questions and show me your work when you are really ready.  Getting critiques is very helpful but whether you want to get them or not is up to you.  You have unlimited access to the class materials and because our classes never expire you can go back and review whenever you want. There many video presentations, written lessons that can be printed off with examples and exercises.  There are 86 pages of printable materials.

Class Objectives:

  • Understand & experience the use of Drawing Materials
  • Sharpen one’s ability to see – develop perceptual skills
  • Learn to access our creative mode
  • Understand, recognize and apply the basic elements of shape
  • Learn various methods and techniques for drawing realistically
  • Develop and /or improve upon your current drawing ability

Topics covered in Drawing  Level I:

  • Establish starting ability level (no expectation at all- just a marker)
  • Basic Elements of Shape, Line, and Contour
  • Observation of space and relationships
  • One and two point perspective
  • Understanding ellipses
  • Structural drawing / shapes / intro to human figure
  • Drawing on the picture plane
  • Negative & Positive space Drawing
  • Sighting / Gauging
  • Use of a grid

If drawing is something you are interested in learning…then visit this online drawing class to get started…Sign up – Learn How to Draw Today!


Artist’s Dilemma Good Stress and Bad Stress

by Neadeen Masters on June 20, 2014

Artist’s Stress and Maintaining a Balanced Life

In a recent conversation with other artists, we discussed the pressures of making a living from painting and being creative. Some of this produces good stress, while some of it is…..well let’s just say it’s stress none the less! It’s really about how much pressure we can put on our creative selves. Trying to find the simple balance between work and family and life in general and trying to stay on task for work. I’m sure some of you can relate to these feelings.

Artistic Stress - Good Stress versus Bad Stress

From my personal experience, I think painting for the heart and painting for the pocket are two different approaches to the canvas. One is play and one is work. When it flows from the heart it’s spontaneous and can lift the spirits higher than the finest wine can. When its work it requires meeting deadlines, painting for sale, it then becomes an analytic process where each brush stroke must be thought about, described with the spoken and written word and shared for others to critique or learn from. It’s a whole different painting process where we need to factor into our time and how we still maintain our love of the brush. Do you think so too?

Time management and discipline play a big role, yes… might we factor in guilt for being too artistically driven or taking time away from family life? Then the stress meter starts to climb. Step away from the work and take time to smell the roses and the stress meter rises a little higher…the guilt gremlins start whispering in your ear. “Yes, No, Yes, No” With one foot in each world, we artists need sometimes shake our heads. Is it really a fine line we walk between love and…that bad word that rhymes with bait! LOL! I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I can’t be alone? I still love all aspects of my world  and wouldn’t trade my art and creativity or family for the world, but it’s just nice to know if and when fellow artists experience the same stresses, we are not so alone.

Just sayin’

…and she was dreaming…”I want to live in a stress free world…yeah! yeah!” LOL!



How to Have Fun In A Busy Life

by Donna Richards on March 18, 2014

Creative Joy Includes Challenges for Having Fun

When I was about 7 years old a new toy that cost $1.98 was suddenly all the rage, and everyone had to have one!  Fifty million of them sold in the first 6 months and 200 million sold in the first 2 years they were available.  It really wasn’t that they were so cheap but rather that they were so much fun and presented a challenge everyone wanted to master. Can you guess what it was??  The wild popularity of the “Hula Hoop” lasted for just over 10 years – until about the time I was graduating from high school.

Having Fun - This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Hula Hoops are still around but back in their “day” it seemed like everyone hula hooped.  Even those who were already parents when they came out probably remember (at your children’s’ prompting) trying to perfect the exact swing of hips and body that kept the hoop up and twirling around your mid section.

Modern Times means Modern Challenges for Having Fun!

There was much fun from that simple toy at a time when everyday life was more simple too!  “Windows” only meant a window that you could open and close and look out through. If you heard the word “Apple” you knew someone was talking about a kind of fruit that was crispy and either red or green.  The word “Web” might have meant a web of lies but the first thing I would have thought of was something hanging from the ceiling or glistening in the sun after a rain storm.

Creative Accomplishment Means Fun and Is good for the Human Soul

Fast forward 50 years and here we are today. . . We find ourselves living in a very complicated world, full of unlimited wonderful things, but it’s also a much busier world that’s filled with of a lot more stress and less time for having simple fun! Taking time for yourself, trying something new that you have always wanted to do, and allowing regular times to do the things you truly enjoy is one of the best ways to de-stress your life.  Mastering a new challenge can add more meaning to life.  And for those of us who are creative and love to paint it really is essential that we take time to create; that we take time to express our creativity.  Painting and drawing or working on other crafts can be such a relaxing and fulfilling thing!  There is so much satisfaction in looking at a competed painting and acknowledging that you have it because you painted it!   A real sense of accomplishment does wonders for stress and for any kind of discouragement for that matter!

I’ve heard it said that “a smile is a sign of joy, a hug is a sign of love, and a laugh is a sign of happiness” . . . and to that I would like to add that a finished painting is a sign of all three; joy, love and happiness!!   Keep life a little more simple . . . . take time to relax and  make time to paint! Besides…it’s a lot of fun too!

Here’s wishing you lots of  happy painting days!  Donna Richards at the Art Apprentice Online Art School


Seven Tips for How to Paint Landscapes

by Neadeen Masters on March 5, 2014

How to paint landscapes takes time and study

How to paint landscapes takes practice and time. Time to understand some specific guidelines about the subject. When I first began painting landscapes I tried to capture every little detail I saw.  I tried to paint the leaves on the trees, and every twig and branch I could see. I ended up with quite a confusing composition.  It often looked like a crazy quilt of color and interlocking shapes. At the time I didn’t understand there were painting rules that I should learn how to apply. I turned to the Old Masters and began paying close attention to what they did.

Start with how to paint landscapes from the Old Masters  

As I began studying the works of the great landscape painters like Ruisdael, Constable and Church, a whole new appreciation for landscape style and composition started to emerge. I was able to see the common threads they shared. Relative to light, line, composition, color, and value there were painting concepts that were used over and over. I zoned in on them. Those of us who love to study landscape painting know that being a student of the genre is an ongoing process. As much as our knowledge increases and evolves, so does our perception and treatment of the landscape painting itself.

 Painting rules – how to paint landscapes and seascapes alike:

  1. Squint! Squint! Squint! – this helps remove the clutter and will help you see the shapes of lights and darks.
  2. Line is very important – Every painting should have at least one vertical, one horizontal, one curve and one diagonal line in it. Without these we run the risk of creating a landscape or seascape that looks static. I don’t remember who I learned that from, but I consider it to be one of the most important concepts when learning how to paint landscapes. What is line? Study and learn the principles and elements of design.
  3. Include both warm and cool color temperatures in your painting. Try to avoid painting in only one color temperature, the inclusion of both will create contrast and help your paintings pop with excitement!
  4. Yellow and red are the two primary hues that will disappear out of your painting in the distance. Blue remains.
  5. As distance increases and colors move into the background of the painting, colors will become progressively lighter in value.
  6. The laws of perspective apply to clouds in the sky.
  7. To create the greatest sense of depth, use overlapping shapes. For example: Place a tree in front of a house, a road in front of a tree etc.

Painting Patterns for how to paint landscapes with Neadeen Masters at the Art Apprentice Online.

How to paint landscapes using painting patterns as well as online painting classes.

To learn more about landscape painting I created several in-depth painting studies fashioned after the style of the great Dutch landscape artist Ruisdael. One popular painting lesson is the painting pattern  shown on the left.

This comes in the format of a downloadable painting pattern. It is packed full of detailed information, a line drawing, step by step painting instructions, the color palette and many step photographs. Students will learn how the Old Dutch Master, Ruisdael applied the concepts of perspective, line, contrast, and overlapping to create his famous painting called The Mill at Wijk-bij-Duurstede.


A Personal Journey with Painting Patterns

by Neadeen Masters on March 5, 2014

Painting Patterns have helped countless beginning artists find their way. The artist’s personal journey can be daunting to navigate, especially for the student artist…There are choices to make, paths to travel and much to choose from. Just think about your own journey and the selection of painting media, styles and painting methods? For some this can make the learning process a little overwhelming. For others, discovering painting patterns is a learning tool that makes the journey more interesting and fruitful. I’d like to introduce one such artist… Lynnette Horn, who shares her personal experience with using Painting Patterns.

Lynnette Horn lives in Troy, Missouri with her husband and family. Long before she considered herself an artist, Lynnette was painting faux finishes, stenciling and turning trash into treasure with paint. She never thought of it as art, but do-it-yourself home improvement. Her official step into art began with One Stroke ™ which she embraced and began teaching. This was soon followed with extensive painting classes with the Art Apprentice Online Instructors and the Core Painting Program. The rest is now history…When Lynnette is not painting, she is out in the field taking reference photos for future works of art.

The Value of Painting Patterns—A Personal Journey  – By Lynnette Horn

Artist Lynnette Horn - Painting Patterns at Art Apprentice Online

For learning to paint, one of the best tools I know is the painting pattern. Some of you might balk at that statement, thinking painting patterns are only for decorative artists. But artists have been copying their mentors’ works for centuries to study how they did it. That is how I learned to paint and instead of making me dependent forever on patterns, it has helped me grow into the independent, original artist I am today. Here’s how I did it.

Painting Patterns are economically priced

First of all, I have family to care for and a tight budget to do it on. Traveling to seminars and painting conventions has not been feasible. But, painting patterns are so economically priced that even I could buy them to learn art at my convenience (in my pj’s if I wanted). I started with painting patterns that looked simple enough for a beginning artist. Through them I learned how to prep my canvas, take care of my brushes and paint a few strokes or techniques. When my brushstrokes improved and I was feeling comfortable with the beginner patterns, I looked for patterns that might be a little more challenging, but not overwhelming.

orange zinnia flower painting pattern by Lynette Horn at Art Apprentice OnlinePainting Patterns offered the challenge to grow

With these patterns I learned more painting techniques, some theory and color mixing. After painting a particular pattern, I might take the same color palette and use it to paint a single element of my own design. For example, if the painting pattern had an apple in it, I would draw my own apple or even a plum on a mini canvas and use the same colors to paint it. If it had fruit in the design, I could learn how to paint fruit. The more patterns I painted like this the more I learned. Whenever I became comfortable, I challenged myself to try patterns I would have once considered too advanced. Step by step I grew in knowledge and skill, as I still am continually growing. (No artist ever truly “arrives.”)

Painting Patterns helped me think Outside the Box…

By this time, I had read about the principles and elements of art…And, many of the patterns include discussions of them, as well. I tried to identify them in every pattern I painted. I also found myself painting with an attitude of what would I do differently. I experimented with mixing my own colors to use with other’s patterns and with sketching the elements of a pattern in different arrangements.  As I grew in confidence I pink zinnia flower painting pattern by Lynette Horn at Art Apprentice Onlinecould feel my baby wings stretching and growing strong. It was only a matter of time before I would fly out of the nest with my own ideas swirling in my head. With the help of painting patterns I was ready.

I still turn to patterns to refresh what I’ve learned, hone my brushstrokes and expand into new areas of painting. There is a plethora of painting patterns available to be purchased or downloaded, enough for a lifetime of learning and growing. And, if you desire, painting patterns may become the stepping stones in your journey to become an independent artist. They have been for me.

 Look for more of Lynnette Horn’s downloadable painting patterns at the Art Apprentice Online


What is a Painting Pattern?

by Neadeen Masters on March 4, 2014

What is a Painting Patterns and How do they Help the Aspiring Artist?

Every budding artist dreams of painting an original masterpiece one day. The dream is often to become spontaneous and confident with one’s artwork. For many newer painters, just like the fast paced world we live in today, you’re anxious get on with it…to learn, and learn quickly. How can you do this? Here’s a great tool to help you learn and build your artistic confidence as well as produce artwork you can be proud of. This tool is called the Painting Pattern.

Painting Patterns are learning tools for the aspiring artist.

What is a Painting Pattern?

Painting patterns are written painting lessons that include step by step painting instructions, a supply list, the painting palette, step photos of the different stages of the painting, and also a line drawing of the featured design. With the internet being standard communication in almost every home these days, these painting patterns are often digital and can be downloaded almost immediately once they have been purchased. Imagine being able to start painting a lovely design, in the privacy of your own home? With a couple of clicks of the mouse, you can begin the process…

Painting Patterns are great learning tools for the aspiring artist who is serious about learning to paint.

How does the Painting Pattern Help the Artist?

For many beginning artists, attending live classes on a regular basis…to learn skills and techniques might be out of the question. Costs and travel time; scheduling and family commitments present obstacles. With Painting patterns, one can zone in on a design style that appeals to them and download the instructions to complete the painting. This is no different than buying a cross-stitch pattern, a crochet or knitting pattern or using a recipe for a new dinner casserole. Painting patterns are simply additional tools for the artist to use as they learn and expand their painting experience. These concepts became popular in the Decorative Painting world during the 70’s and 80’s. Many decorative painting teachers created pattern packets for their students who enjoyed painting their style of painting, or to learn a teacher’s unique painting method. Painting patterns are simply tools for the artist.

How to paint flowers with Painting Patterns at the Art Apprentice Online

Painting Patterns – Not Copying but Learning!

Even the Old Masters had their students reproduce their painted work as a way to impart knowledge, style and technique to the next generation of artists. The concept is not new and it’s not about copying. It’s about being a student of art and making discoveries, seeking understanding and ‘doing’, that’s how we all learn isn’t it? Sure, everyone learns in different ways… Some folks can’t learn in a live classroom because there’s too much distraction, some can’t learn from reading alone, while others learn just from watching a video…So here’s an affordable tool that can support all your other preferred methods of learning…

Painting Patterns are Great Study Tools

Use Painting Patterns for Art Study

As the artist becomes a little more experienced, the painting pattern can also become a very useful study tool. Even if you never physically paint the design, reading through the written painting process while one studies the step photographs is a great way to learn. One can follow the development of the painting as it unfolds, mentally painting along with the pattern’s author. Many of my students have shared with me that this is the most important reason they collect my painting patterns. This demonstrates the benefits are not just about the physical painting, but learning from the explained process. There is so much to learn when you see and read HOW a painting unfolds before your eyes.

Painting patterns are a wonderful tool to help you expand your painting range, and discover how certain products and brushes are used. Discover how artists use painting techniques, how they mix color, and how they paint through to the final design. As a learning tool – Don’t ignore Painting Patterns.

***if you would like to print or share this article with your painting group, chapter or art guild’s newsletters, please email for permission to do so and let us know where you will share. Contact:


Embrace Extender Medium and see your Acrylic Paint change before your eyes!

Having used Extender Paint Medium for the last ten years, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to its usefulness as well as its challenges. It still amazes me how many artists  shy away from using acrylic paints because they are challenged by their quick drying time. Here’s a medium that will change the way you look at painting with acrylics. With this medium your acrylic paint performs just like an oil paint.

What is Extender Medium?

Extender is basically made with a water soluble Propylene glycol. It is a colorless and innocuous liquid found in hand lotions, soap and hundreds of other products safely used by humans.  (Not to be confused with Ethylene glycol which is used in car antifreeze and is poisonous) In a nutshell, when it is used in a paint medium, it allows acrylic paint to stay open or workable for a longer period of time. Yes there are many brands of acrylic paint mediums on the market that claim to do the same thing, but in my experience, they’re often sticky, difficult to blend with… and they alter the paint viscosity in unwanted dramatic ways. I have found that Traditions Extender Medium manufactured by DecoArt, Inc. is the best on the market.

Blending with Extender Paint Medium and creating a mottled background - Art Apprentice Online

Blending with Extender Paint Medium and creating a mottled background – Art Apprentice Online

How to work with Extender Paint Medium? This isn’t an easy answer. We can use Extender in several ways.

  • It can be added and mixed into the paint directly, however we must be careful with the ratio between paint and Extender…I use caution and suggest no more than about 25% Extender (give or take) or you’ll change the acrylic paints ability to stick to the surface.
  • Thin your paint: You can dip your brush in it, to add a little extra moisture to your working paint on the canvas or the palette. Use Extender as needed. I never use water unless I am changing to another color and need to clean my brush.
  • You can keep a puddle of Extender Medium right on your mixing palette. Pick up a little each time you load up with fresh paint. I like to do this, and eventually all the paint on my palette will end up with Extender mixed in it…The result is very similar to working with oil paints…Smooth and bendable.
  • Apply directly to the Canvas Surface: For painting large areas like skies in a landscape, apply the Extender Medium directly to the canvas surface, then apply the acrylic paint and blend as needed… This will allow lots of open play time to adjust your values and brushwork. When you are satisfied with the results, move to a new area and allow the previous area to dry well.
  • Cleaning your brush – During a painting session, I like to clean my brush with DecoArt Extender Medium…That’s my preferred brand. Pinch-wipe the dirty brush between the folds of a clean paper towel and then swish the brush in a little container of extender. Wipe the brush again and continue painting.
  • Dry well. After the painting session, allow the acrylic painting to dry well. Use a warm hair dryer to speed dry if needed.
  • At the end of a painting session – clean your acrylic brushes well with soap and water…When clean, reload with a little clean Extender Medium and they’ll be ready for your next painting session.

Challenges you might face working with Extender Medium

  • Too much Extender can present a problem…If this happens, simply blot with a clean paper towel.
  • The surface should never be runny…just slightly shiny or damp if you passed your hand across the surface.
  • The amount of Extender you use and how it responds depends on the dryness or humidity of your studio room AND the region of the country you live in. Adjust accordingly and be aware of this factor. Yes there is a learning curve.
  • Don’t use Extender Medium with a circulating fan or heater nearby…this will speed up the drying time and make blending more difficult.
  • Try to avoid using water unless to clean your brushes, but always dress the brush with a little Extender before returning to the canvas surface.

Good luck…Extender Medium allows me to move seamlessly between oil and acrylic painting…my blending style and brushwork are hardly affected. Give it a try, you’ll love working with acrylics once you try DecoArt Traditions Extender and Blending Medium.