I began painting 2 years ago. I watched a tutorial on YouTube and went to Michael's and stocked up.  I have not ventured beyond acrylic on canvas. I notice so many people painting on different surfaces using different mediums. I understand a watercolor paper needs to be able to handle water, but beyond that, why do you paint on different surfaces with different paint mediums and what is your favorite? I just ordered paper and a set of Gouache paints and brushes. I am so excited to try something new. I realize I can get a pretty decent explanation of what I am asking on Google, but I am very interested in hearing what all of you have to say on the subject. Thanks and Happy Painting! (yes, I just said that) :-)

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I used to think oil was my favorite medium but tried acrylics about 4 years ago, and though I just dabbled with it, found myself liking it. Mainly because I could get all the shapes and values in very quickly because acrylics dry so fast. I even ventured into a few oil over acrylics to get the best of both - fast dry for initial setup, and oils for their blending.

Lately I’ve found I can get blending similar to oil with the acrylic - I just need patience.

I mostly use canvas, but have also used masonite board (whenever I wanted to ensure a smooth surface for detail work), and glass. I used the glass to paint flowers, but paint on the “back” in a reverse image of what I wanted the viewer to see, then framed the glass so light could come into the back side - fantastic views in various light conditions from the “front” of the glass.

I would encourage you to try, experiment and see what appeals to YOU. As Karen says “ the easel is the best teacher”

Best, Tony

Hi Micki!

By all means, do experiment! It's fun and inspiring. I did lots of it when I was starting out! It's a very individual thing when it comes to mediums and supports. You will find you just really enjoy some and others, not so much! It's all part of exploring your own expression and is different for everyone.

I settled on acrylics on canvas, with no mediums. I like the simplicity of not using mediums. I can't really explain why. It's almost a challenge. Creating my own world with just brush and paint. It probably says something about my desire to control things as well - I don't enjoy the more unpredictable, random, happy accident type mediums. I like to be able to bring my own vision to life. For that reason I don't enjoy watercolor. If used in a controlled way - filling in a detailed drawing for example - it is too controlled for me. But just letting it flow is not controlled enough :)

I love the texture of acrylic on canvas - that you can literally touch it and it doesn't have to be framed under glass like watercolor, graphite, pastels or paint on paper.

I love using the texture of the canvas as a way to vary the application of the paint - as opposed to a very flat surface like wood.

Gosh, so many reasons really. My issue with oils is the smells, they give me an instant headache. Plus I don't like the slow drying.

So do experiment! You will stumble across the combination that fits you perfectly! :)

Wow to both of you. Great feedback. Tony, I could not imagine painting on glass backwards. I layer so mush paint at this point to get a desired result. I need lots more practice.

Karen, I was watching some tutorials tonight on Gouache vs Watercolor and I decided that Watercolor is just not for me. I feel the need to control. Then I came to your site and you said literally the same thing. Great minds...or stubborn ones. Thank you both for taking the time to respond.

This sort of topic always gets a wide variety of answers, and for good reason; we simply are not as limited with acrylics as are other mediums.

I have painted on Masonite (brand name), Baltic birch, veneer plywood, canvas panels, stretched canvas, and various paper substrates.  With ANY substrate that is not acid-free, you must seal the surface with several coats of gloss medium to avoid future discolouration.  Ask me how I know .  .      .

Heavy watercolour paper or even mixed media paper can easily be sealed and used for acrylic use.  Canvas is an historic substrate that often is not the best - people just seem to think if the painting isn't done on canvas it isn't quality.  Some of the masters' pieces that are in the best shape were painted on wood.  For most of us, I think the main concern is that whatever we paint upon, we make sure it is properly prepared before we begin to paint.  Cheaper grades of panels and canvas should always be sealed and primed before use - there is no way to be sure that the manufacturer did a competent job at either one, and the odds are good that the fabric is not acid-free.

My favorite would probably be rigid panels.  Ampersand is a good example; their coated panels have already been properly sealed and prepared for us.  I like using texture mediums/pastes, and flexible supports like canvas and paper are not adequate.  For small sizes (up to about 5x7 inches), I have even used foamcore sheets.  They will warp a bit with heavier paint layers, but not excessively so in the smaller sizes.

I have also put canvas onto a wood base, providing both texture and rigidity.  My sister-in-law likes the bounce of stretched canvas, but sometimes that can be a liability.  Acrylics almost beg for experimentation, so try different things and see where it leads you!  Just remember to seal the surface before you start, and then slap those brushes around. 

This is the first I have heard of sealing. My work will never end up in a gallery, but I do give as gifts. Would be nice if they were to last. I will look into this. Thanks!


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