Can You Mix Acrylic Paints With Gouache On The Same Canvas?

When it comes to the features of acrylic paint and gouache, it can be said that they are quite similar, and many times they are mistaken to be the same. Even though they are both water-based and can dry up quickly, they still have some differences between them. However, can you mix acrylic paints with gouache or tempera paint despite their differences, and what is the proper way to do that?

You can mix acrylic paints with gouache on the same canvas or even fabric, and the proper way to do that is by using a hybrid of the two kinds of paint. The result is called acrylic or acryl gouache, and a matte finish characterizes it. Also, it is smoothly applied, giving you the best out of the two paint types.

Mixing acrylic paints with gouache is a common method used by artists, and here, I have discussed the proper ways to do that, so your technique would be successful. I will also explain the notion of acrylic gouache for you to obtain a better understanding. Lastly, I will give you the differences between these two types of paint. Therefore, you will see how they can be compatible. 

How To Mix Acrylic Paints With Gouache On The Same Canvas? 

Both acrylics and gouache are water-based paints, and they share many other features; when mixed, they result in an amazing matte finish. The acrylic contributes to the matte dry-up, while the gouache gives the glossier look of the paint. The blend of acrylics and gouache will take your painting to the next level by giving vibrancy to the colors.

So, now I will provide you the proper method to make the acrylic gouache, and your whole painting process may proceed smoothly. 

Firstly, you will need a palette or a plate-like object (or just a plate) to put the paints and mix them. This process will run smoothly since we have water-based paints in question, meaning that they will easily blend into one another. You will have to choose the colors you want to mix and pour them on your palette. 

Make sure that when you pour the paints onto the palette, they are not too close to one another. If you do not leave space between them, you will not achieve the color you want properly. The early not-intended mixing might lead to the destruction of the fresh paints, leaving you with a color that you did not plan.

Unlike other types of paints, acrylics and gouache do not need water for the mixing process. Since they are already water-based, their features will do the work, especially the features of the acrylic paint. Acrylics can produce a creamy texture that will be easily and smoothly applied on a canvas without cracking in the process. 

This is the simple process of mixing acrylic paint with gouache, called acrylic gouache, as I previously mentioned. You do not need special tools or ingredients to mix since the paints themselves do it. 

What Is Acrylic Gouache? 

So, as I explained before, when you mix acrylics and gouache, you end up with acrylic gouache. However, I did not discuss the features of this texture; therefore, in this section, I will try to provide all the information you need to know about this mixture.

Acrylic gouache is actually acrylic paint characterized by opaque and matte features. These features provide excellent coverage, as well as waterproof characteristics once the paint is dried up. This will enable you to paint over the first layer without worrying about getting the painting smudgy and smeary. 

The matte finish will give your work a velvety surface with amazing vibrant colors. The adhesion will not be disrupted, and the paint will stick perfectly to almost any surface. Once it is dried up, your paintings will look as they are with traditional gouache. However, the paints will be waterproof, which is not the feature present in the traditional gouache. 

Each type of paint has a distinct feature that sets aside one paint type from another. 

  • Traditional acrylics dry quickly and can be diluted with water. Their opacity depends on the used pigment in the color, and they provide a finish that is satin-like.
  • Traditional gouache is a watercolor with matte and opaque features. Like the rest of the watercolors, the traditional gouache is not waterproof. 
  • Acrylic gouache combines the features of the two, meaning that it provides a matte and opaque effect, making the colors waterproof, but also able to be mixed with water.

The Main Differences Between Acrylics And Gouache 

Even though acrylics and gouache have similar features, they are still not the same paint types, and they behave differently on different surfaces. When you do hand painting, you need to know which type of paint will suit the surface you intend to paint on, and for that purpose, you need to know the paint properties.

Below, I have provided the differences between acrylics and gouache so that you will learn the advantages and disadvantages of each medium. 

Durability

Most types of paint show their main differences in durability. When it comes to acrylics and gouache, we can safely say that acrylic paint is more durable than gouache. Acrylics are water-resistant, they do not absorb dust and react better to light, i.e., it does not fade easily.

When it comes to waterproof features, it cannot be said that acrylics are totally waterproof. If they come in touch with water when dry, they will not be damaged. However, if we are talking about large amounts of water, such as snow or rain, you should expect that your acrylic paint will experience some damage. Therefore, if you use acrylics for projects positioned outdoors, you should waterproof them with varnish. 

On the other hand, gouache is not durable as acrylics, i.e., it cannot withstand dust and light, and it will be damaged if it comes in contact even with small amounts of water. Since gouache can be reactivated with water, this will be an advantage for painters who would like to change their projects. If you decide to use gouache, make sure to put the painting in a frame and behind glass to prevent contact with dust or water. 

Application

Since gouache gives a matte and opaque finish, you should not make the paint translucent with water. This will work with watercolors but not with gouache. Furthermore, you should pay attention to the amount of paint you use when applying because if the texture is too thick, it can lead to cracking. 

Acrylics, on the other hand, work well when thick. In other words, you can apply them with thick texture, and they would form a surface. When they dry up, they will have a glossy effect, and you will add more layers above them. You will still get the shiny finish, and you will not worry about cracking. 

Suitable Surfaces For Painting

When you intend to do some serious painting, you need to pick the surface on which you will do the work. However, it is not enough to choose the surface. You will have to find a surface that will match the paints you intend to use because not all types of paints work on every surface. 

Therefore, you should know that you will need to pick a paper surface if you decide to work with gouache. This is the most suitable surface on which gouache will give you the best effect of its features. On the other hand, if you decide to work with acrylics, you can choose from several options for surfaces. 

Acrylic paint works well on paper, glass, plastic, and wood. Depending on what kind of project you are working on, you can opt for the most appropriate surface. That being said, I would like to add that acrylics will be suitable for paintings and decorating various objects. 

Binders

Acrylic paint and gouache are water-based types of paint, meaning that soap and water would be ideal tools for cleaning them up. However, the difference between the two is in the binders. The binders are the materials responsible for holding the pigments together, enabling them to be applied on paper, canvas, or similar surfaces. 

Gouache contains gum arabic as a binder, which is the same binder used in watercolors. This binder makes both gouache and watercolors able to be dissolved with water. That is the reason why gouache paintings allow making changes. 

By comparison, acrylic paint uses polymer as a binder which is a type of plastic. The polymer allows dissolving with water but only when the acrylics are wet. When dry, this binder makes the paint water-resistant, meaning that a small amount of water will not cause any damage to the painting. 

Painting Tools 

When it comes to painting, as you choose the surface on which you will paint, you also need to choose the tools that will enable you to apply the paints on that surface. Different types of paint require different types of tools because of their texture and other features. 

Therefore, to be applied, gouache requires a paintbrush due to the thinner, water-based texture. When it comes to acrylics, you can use a paintbrush, but you also have the option to choose something not so usual, like a palette knife. This means that gouache can limit you when it comes to painting tools, while acrylic paint allows you to experiment on the surface with various instruments. 

Drying 

If you have already worked with gouache and acrylic paint, you have most likely noticed the time in which both paints dry up. Acrylics tend to dry significantly faster than gouache; therefore, they are considered paints that are difficult to blend. 

If you need to mix acrylics and make the drying process slower, some ways will help you. For instance, you can use a retarder in the acrylics or mist them with a little bit of water so that the drying will proceed slower than usual. 

Gouache paint also dries up quickly, even though slower than acrylics. However, since their texture allows reactivation with water, the blending is highly possible, even if the painting is fully dried for a few days. 

Therefore, there is no big difference in the time taken for acrylics and gouache to dry up. However, you might take into consideration this feature if you intend to blend colors in your artworks. 

Rework Ability

Many times, artists and painters decide to change a previously done painting or other artwork. This is not possible with every type of paint since not all paints allow rewetting without any damages. 

That type of paint is acrylic, which does not allow changes once it is dried up. As I previously mentioned, acrylics are water-resistant, meaning that a small amount of water will do no damage, while a large amount of it will destroy it. This being said, you cannot make any changes to an acrylic painting without doing permanent damages. 

On the other hand, gouache is quite flexible, allowing you to make numberless changes to your paintings. Even if they are fully dried up, you can always reactivate the paint by adding a little bit of water. That way, you can make all the desired changes multiple times. 

Acrylic paints have the ability to mix with different types of paint, and gouache is not excluded from this group. Once you mix acrylics and gouache, you get paint that provides a unique and amazing effect on your paintings. If you search for vibrant colors in your works, then acrylic gouache would be the perfect pick for you.

WATCH – How to blend acrylic paint for beginners on canvas:

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Ines

Ines is a self-taught artist based in the UK. Originally from Caracas, she has dabbled in the world of arts and crafts in a diversity of ways participating in city intervention projects, sustainable practices’ open exhibitions, and her illustrations being featured in anniversary editions of literary magazines.

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