Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Linocut?

LinocutOpens in a new tab. is one of the oldest art techniques still in existence today. Over the years, many artists have experimented with various ways to make their linoleum art stand out, ranging from using ink mixes to trying new techniques like “Reduction” and “Rainbow Roll.” But, can you use acrylic paint for linocut? And achieve something new?

You can use acrylic paint for printmaking if you are confident that you can work quickly. Doing a lino print with acrylic paint or other water based ink, instead of with oil based ink, is difficult because it dries too quickly, requiring artists to use block printing or blending mediums to prevent caking for projects that will take a while to finish.

The rest of the article will examine why some artists might consider using acrylic paint in the first place and how to avoid the pigment from quick drying while using it. Watch out for other alternatives to consider when acrylic paint doesn’t work with your lino cut.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Linocut? Why Use Acrylic Paint?

There are many reasons why many artists will consider using acrylic paint on a linocut. Some of these are covered below:

It Is Versatile

Many modern artists learned to paint using acrylic. The material is good on all kinds of surfaces ranging from paper to wood. It is only natural for you to think of trying it on linocut to see if it will work with such versatility for relief printing.

It Allows Creation of Crisp Edges

Do you paint with a graphic composition? You are most likely to get crisp edges with acrylics when compared to other materials. When using acrylic, it is easier to mask out areas, mix bright colors, and use a thicker shade of paint for certain shapes. It is possible that this does not work out the same if you have done a lot of details when carving.

It is Great for Impasto Paintings

When you use acrylics for impasto paintings, the paint will dry quickly, leaving a pleasing appearance. Using oil paints for such a job, on the other hand, will leave inner paint that will still be wet. The nature of acrylic also reduces the chances of the finished painting cracking over time.

It Is a Good Option in Small Studios

Oil painting thinners have a stronger odor compared to acrylic. This makes acrylic an excellent option when you have to work in a tight space. It would be best if you still had ventilation when working with it due to trace elements of ammonia in some models, but it is always a better option than oil painting thinners.

With these advantages, it makes sense to consider acrylic for the linocut. So, how do you keep it from drying while you are still working?

How to Keep Acrylic Paint Wet for Linocut

You don’t want to be in a situation where the acrylic paint on your palette is drying out while working carefully. Even worse, when you go to reload your brush with paint, only to see everything dried prompts a remix of the colors.

To avoid this, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Paint the largest portion of your linocut first.
  • Work as quickly as possible.
  • Use the largest brush first, saving the detailing for the end.
  • Spray the colors with a plant mister occasionally to prevent drying out while you are working.
  • Extend the drying time of the paint by using extenders like Liquitex Slow-Dri Blending Medium.
Liquitex Professional Fluid Medium, 237ml (8-oz), Slow-Dri Blending Opens in a new tab.
  • A unique formulation that extends drying time up to 40% for blending with acrylics
  • Lightweight, non-toxic and dries to a water-resistant, non-yellowing surface
  • Includes 8-oz / 237ml bottle of medium

Last update on 2023-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to see an example and get your hands working, you can learn how to do simple block print stamping with acrylic paint by watching the video below:

Sara NaumannOpens in a new tab.

The Best Alternatives to Acrylic for Linocut Printing

If the process of using acrylic in linocut printing doesn’t sound appealing, you can always fall back to the tried and tested inks that have been used in linoleum art for years. Here are some of them.

Schmincke Aqua Linoldruck InkOpens in a new tab.

This is a non-oil lino ink for paper. Like some other brands, it is not widely known, but it delivers all the benefits you’d want from a top non-oil ink option for your linoleum art. It doesn’t dry too fast during the rollout like some others, but it dries on paper fast enough.

While using this paint, you won’t need any modifiers as it works great straight from the tube. While using this ink, however, you have to carefully roll it on your block to ensure you don’t leave any lap marks.

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink, 2.5-Ounce, White Opens in a new tab.
  • BOLD OPAQUE COLORS – Water-miscible, oil-based Fabric Block Printing Ink from Speedball produces...
  • USE ON FABRIC & PAPER – The versatile block printing ink creates beautiful results on both fabric...
  • NO HEAT SET REQUIRED – This ink requires no heat set to get a permanent result!  Simply let the...

Last update on 2023-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are looking for an oil-based ink for fabric linocut, then speedball is an option that should be high on your list. It rolls out nicely and produces excellent images that look great on t-shirts and other fabrics.

It also stands up to washing very well, but there’ll be some slight fading after a while. You have to ensure it dries properly, though, and this can take up to a week. One downside to this product is that the smell is a bit unpleasant. You’ll be better off working with it in an open-air environment.

Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink 

Cranfield Caligo, Safe Wash Etching Ink, 75ml Tube, Process Red, RDCN63601 Opens in a new tab.
  • Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash Etching Ink from the UK
  • Artist-quality etching ink for non-toxic printmaking
  • Oil-based, but cleans up with soap and water

Last update on 2023-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is regarded as one of the best ink on the market for lino printing on paper. It provides all the benefits of traditional oil-based ink, but cleaning the inked brayer is not difficult due to its special formula. You only need to coat the ink on the brayer with some dishwashing soap and then rinse the mix off with some warm water, gently rubbing it off with your hands. Then let it dry.

This ink is available in a variety of colors and comes in tubes or cans. Choosing a color palette that contains red, blue, yellow, black, and white will allow you to get any color you want for your lino project. Using this ink, it can take up to a couple of days for the work to dry. The drying time can be longer if you’ve stacked layers of ink. The humidity and average temperature of the studio and the type of paper used are other factors that can make drying harder.

Gamblin Drive by Black Textile InkOpens in a new tab.

If you are looking for a traditional oil-based ink that works great on fabrics, it is an excellent option. It delivers rich ink and looks magnificent on fabric. Once it’s allowed to dry, it can hold up to washing excellently. 

However, since this ink is oil-based, it isn’t easy to work with and clean up. It’s not a good option if you casually paint in your living areas or your kitchen. You can make the cleanup process simpler by combining vegetable oil and GOpens in a new tab.aOpens in a new tab.msolOpens in a new tab..  

Speedball Fabric Screen-Printing Ink

Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink, 8-Ounce, Black for T-Shirt and Silkscreen Printmaking Opens in a new tab.
  • EXCELLENT WORKING PROPERTIES - Offers artists vibrant colors, great coverage, and consistent...
  • USE ON FABRIC, PAPER OR CARDBOARD - Ideal for printing on a range of fabrics, including cotton,...
  • PERMANENT RESULTS FOR FABRIC PRINTING - Inks produce a super soft-hand on fabric and are permanent...

Last update on 2023-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Speedball Fabric Screen-Printing Ink is an excellent option to go with when it comes to textile screen-printing ink for block printing on fabric. However, you’ll need a foam brayer for this instead of a conventional rubber option. You should also avoid rolling it out immediately. Leave it on the slab for a while to thicken before you proceed.

Akua Intaglio

Akua Intaglio Water-Based Ink, 8-Ounce Jar, Carbon Black Opens in a new tab.
  • CREATED BY PRINTMAKERS FOR PRINTMAKERS - Susan Rostow developed Akua Intaglio Inks to deliver...
  • DRIES THROUGH ABSORPTION - Akua Intaglio Inks only dry through absorption - they will not dry on the...
  • VERSATILITY - These inks are ideal for Intaglio/Etching, Monotype, Gel printing and Collagraph...

Last update on 2023-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another decent option that works quite well with linoleum. It can be paired with any of its designated ink modifiers. It dries at a reasonable pace for both rollouts and when it is on paper. However, it is not stocked by major retailers, so you’ll have to make sure you order enough quantity to get the job done.

Final Words

Using acrylic paint for linocut is doable, but it requires a speedy application or regular spraying to avoid drying out while still working. You can also mix a blending medium into the paint to slow down the drying.

However, many artists choose to go with oil and non-oil-based inks for linocut on paper or fabric. This is a less stressful approach than acrylic because it allows you to work on the project at a comfortable pace. Go over the options we’ve looked at above, and choose inks that work for your type of project. You may discover that you want to try other type of materials such as screen printing ink, but do try to do some research before you use materials wastefullyOpens in a new tab..


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Ines, a self-taught artist from Caracas now based in the UK, explores diverse forms of art, from unconventional materials to sustainable and responsible use of resources.

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