Glazing With Acrylic Matte Medium: It’s Easy to Do!

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Painting |


If you’ve ever used acrylic paint, you know that it’s capable of creating wonderful things. I’m a big fan of acrylic painting — unlike oils, it’s not smelly and doesn’t require ventilation. Plus, there are a lot of fun mediums to add to it. Today, we’ll go over a universal painting technique with a twist.

Using matte medium, I’m going to mix it with my paint and apply thin layers to a surface, gradually building up a complex color. It’s called glazing and is used across other media, too.

Find out the key to creating rich and vibrant flora using the technique of glazing with matte medium.

Finished floral painting

Plants are beautiful and have a myriad of colors in their leaves and blooms. I’m going to draw and paint a large leaf using glazing that will capture the different hues I see.

Supplies for tutorial

To complete this image, I’m going to use a few tools you’ve seen before (in other tutorials!). First and foremost, we’ll need something to paint on. I’ve used matte medium to prepare the surface of this paper so that it can adequately handle the acrylic pigment.

I’m going to use matte medium to mix with my paints, and a variety of colors and paint brushes. I even bought an unused plastic palette for the occasion! This is what I use and am comfortable with, but feel free to dig through your own supplies to find what you think works best.

Step 1: Set up the base.

Outline of leaf

Now that you’re ready to paint, you’ll first need to draw your subject. I lightly drew this leaf using pencil; lightly is key because you won’t be able to erase when you’re done! Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, you can draw your subject using a light colored paint.

First layer of paint

My matte medium is in the middle of my palette.  I mix it direct with the pigment, a little at a time.

Once you’re happy with your image, it’s time to start with a base layer of pigment that’s not too dark. Remember, you’re going to have to build on top of this color. Darker hues come from the building up of layers, not necessarily the color itself.

Using your first color, mix it with the acrylic matte medium. How much you use will depend on the amount of paint you have and how light you want the color to be. More medium will thin out pigment and create a lighter hue. But, be careful. Too much medium can alter the color.

Step 2: Wait for it to dry.

Layer two with painting

Layer 2 no hand

The nice thing about working in layers is that it doesn’t take your paint too long to dry. That’s a good thing, because you’ll need to wait until everything dries to apply another layer. This will prevent smearing and unwanted smudge marks. For this next pigment, you can pick something that’s similar to the color you applied, or even slightly different. If you are applying a warmer green, why not add a little bit of blue to make it a cooler green? Mix it with the matte medium and paint. You can start to see how the two different hues interact with one another.

Step 3: Mix, dry, and repeat.

Another layer of paint

Another layer of paint

There aren’t a lot of complicated steps when it comes to gazing with acrylic paint and matte medium. Mostly, it’s following the same steps and patiently waiting for your layers to dry. Once you’ve achieved the colors you wanted, congratulations! You’re done!

One more tip for glazing:

Glazing with acrylic matte medium is pretty easy and allows us more time to focus on color. I usually work with lighter color and gradually build up to darker hues, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes, you want to highlight something, or soften out a shadow. It’d be appropriate to apply yellow, for instance, over a dark brown field of color. Do what you feel is right for the piece and best represents what you’re trying to paint.

Check out the collection of online painting classes, like Painting Wildlife: Acrylic & Mixed Media, to learn more painting techniques that will help you explore your creativity and elevate your artistic skills.

Have you ever tried glazing? What about with matte medium?