View Full Version : What can I mix into my paints as a thickener?

05-23-2000, 03:33 PM
I've been painting again.

I love to paint and don't know why I don't do more of it. These new pieces are thick with impasto (thick, heavy bodied paint) and bulge out of the canvas. Semi-abstract, but with the suggestion of fish and coral reefs. They're paintings the blind can appreciate.

Anyway, to make my heavy bodied paint-stuff I've been mixing Liquitex paint and acrylic medium with various things (acrylic medium if you've never come across it is a water soluble solution that dries into a very tough, clear, flexible plastic).

* Glue sticks (in lipstick-like containers) I snaffle from the supply cabinet at work are nice. They produces a creamy paste with a very nice flow to it and are like concrete once dry, but are small and hard to mix thoroughly.

* Flour produces far too gluey a mixture and sticks miserably to the palate knives, brushes and plastic picnic utensils I shove the paint around the canvas with. Once I accidentally used Self Rising Flour, with hilarious results. Cream of wheat and oatmeal, nice from a textural standpoint, are equally difficult and have the tendency to produce a bad smell if applied to thickly.

* Don't even get me started on Plaster of Paris!

* Lately I've been using Baking Soda. Great stuff! Cheap, chemically inert, nice flow, doesn't get all starchy, but I'm worried about the long term.

I should point out that there are several professional impasto mediums on the market, these are made with very fine marble dust and are rather expensive and come in relatively small quantities compared to the amount I use.

Oat Willie
05-23-2000, 03:43 PM
Plaster of paris. It's very fine powder, and cheap.
It may change the color a bit, so test dab.

Oat Willie
05-23-2000, 03:47 PM
If plaster of paris doesn't work for you (does for me), and oatmeal doesn't do it (wouldn't that tend to get mildewed?), then semolina flour is your next logical choice. Dries to a har shine.

05-23-2000, 05:49 PM
I'm not a painter but Portland cement comes to mind. you probably couldn't use it in all applications because of the color.

05-23-2000, 06:38 PM
sand, if you like texture.

05-23-2000, 09:28 PM
When us master craftsmen at the Art Museum desire to make acrylic paint thicker, we use "joint compound". That's basically a chalky, pasty goop used to patch small holes in drywall. It mixes with paint nice and easy, dries fairly quick-like, and is a very common product. Hie thee to the hardware store/Home Depot/whatever and get yourself a small container of "joint compound" - ask for it by name - and give it a whirl.

05-23-2000, 09:34 PM
Cornstarch works well...between that and duct tape you should be able to fix most of the world's problems...

Sue Duhnym
05-23-2000, 09:38 PM
I agree with RTA on the spackle/joint compound.

Or you could give that stuff they use for textured ceilings a whirl, don't know what it's called.

05-23-2000, 09:41 PM
I'd go with cornstarch too. That is what is used in a lot of foods to thicken them.

mega the roo
05-23-2000, 09:41 PM
Everytime I read the thread title I see 'pants' instead of 'paints'.


05-24-2000, 12:33 AM
If commercially available impasto media are made from marble dust, try similar minerals. Calcium carbonate, for instance, should be pretty readily available from dye shops and brewing supply stores, in my experience. It seems to be pretty cheap (a few bucks a pound), it's inert, it typically comes in a very fine powder, it's water soluble.... What more could you ask for?

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