Why Is Your Acrylic Paint Not Blending? 5 Reasons

Acrylic paint is popular for its versatility and fast-drying qualities. It is also suitable for use on many surfaces, such as paper, canvas, leather, wood, glass, stone, metal, and plastic. Unfortunately, one challenge you may face when using acrylic paint is improper blending.

When your acrylic paint isn’t blending, it may be because it is drying too quickly. Other possible reasons include: using the wrong brush, over-blending or over-diluting your paint, and using low-quality acrylic paint.

Please continue reading to find out more about this topic. I will also highlight helpful tips to help you counter each issue and hopefully give you an easier time using acrylic paint.

Why Is Your Acrylic Paint Not Blending? 5 Reasons

There are several techniques that you can use to blend acrylic paint. Nevertheless, here are some common factors that can prevent your acrylic paint from blending as needed: 

Reason One – The Paint Is Drying Too Quickly

Acrylic paint takes between five to thirty minutes to dry. 

When blending on a larger canvas, this drying time may be too short thus impeding the blending process. This problem is significantly more challenging for newer artists since they may be unable to blend fast enough and counter the quick drying time of acrylic paint.

Other factors that may accelerate the drying process of acrylic paint include:

  • Paint brand (some brands have a faster drying time than others)
  • Higher temperatures 
  • Low humidity 

To solve this problem, you can use an acrylic retarderOpens in a new tab.. By adding this to your acrylic paint, you slow down the drying time of the paint, which makes for an easier blending process. Here is a product that you can use; the Liquitex Professional Fluid MediumOpens in a new tab. (available on Amazon.com). 

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 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This product slows down drying time by up to 40%. It is non-toxic, safe for educational use and also lightweight. 

Reason Two – Using the Wrong Kind of Brush To Blend

The brush you use when bending acrylic paint will affect the outcome.

The ideal brushOpens in a new tab. for blending acrylic paint is a soft, flat one with synthetic bristles. This helps you to achieve smooth paintingOpens in a new tab. with fewer streaks. A flat brush also holds more paint, making it ideal for blending on a large canvas. 

Synthetic brushes are recommended for use with acrylic paint because, unlike natural hair brushes, they are resistant to damage by acrylic paint. Moreover, synthetic brushes can safely sit in water for extended periods (natural hair brushes absorb too much water and swell up).

The size of your brush also matters a lot. When blending acrylic paint on a larger canvas, choose a larger brush for easier and more effective blending. Using a small brush against an extensive background will leave you with many ridge marks on the painting. It will also take you a longer time to complete your work.

Reason Three – You’re Over Blending the Acrylic Paint

Over blending happens when you repeatedly go over the brush strokes trying to enhance them. The effect of doing this is that you end up with a muddied canvas rather than what you are aiming for; creating a smoothly blended painting.

Additionally, when you over-blend the acrylic paint, you deprive the painting of the beautiful color harmony that results from using distinct yet cohesive colors.

To avoid making this mistake, apply the paint lightly with just a few strokes, and take breaks between applications to inspect the progress. Do not press the brush against your canvas because it can result in an over-blended painting. 

You also need to exercise some patience when blending acrylic paint because you may only get to see your vision come together after the painting is complete.

Reason Four – You’re Overdiluting your Paint 

Part of blending acrylic paint is mixing it with water or a thinner. When too much water is added to acrylic paint, it loses its bonding properties and becomes less adhesive to the canvas. Furthermore, over-diluting will also cause paint to lose its opacity and thickness.

Ultimately, how much you dilute your paint depends on the color opacity you hope to achieve on the canvas. Nonetheless, do not go beyond a ratio of 30% water to 70 % acrylic paint to prevent over dilution.

The other types of acrylic thinners you can use to prevent this problem include:

Unfortunately, these acrylic thinners will slow the drying time of your acrylic paint. They are also relatively expensive (especially considering that using water will cost you nearly nothing). 

Reason Five – You’re Using the Wrong Paint

Low-quality paints such as craft paints are not suitable for blending for the following reasons:

  • Some contain too much binder
  • They may also adhere poorly to the canvas
  • They may not have sufficient pigment

Expired acrylic paint will also prevent proper blending because of changes in essential qualities such as consistency. Check the expiry date on the packaging before use. 

To solve this problem, invest in quality paints. You can opt for low-cost, relatively affordable, student-grade paints (in comparison to professional-grade acrylic paints). Doing this will save you the time and effort spent on trying to achieve quality work using low-quality products.

CLIVE5ARTOpens in a new tab.

Valuable Beginner Tips To Consider When Blending Acrylic Paint

Here are some valuable tips to remember when blending acrylic paint:

  • Start small. Blending on a smaller canvas is forgiving for a beginner since you can paint slower and master the technique before moving on to a larger canvas.
  • Take time to study how different colors work together. Creating color harmony is an essential skill that you need when blending.
  • Build up your painting speed. Keep practicing to build up your painting speed, as it will work to your advantage when using fast-drying acrylic paint.
  • Opt for student-grade acrylic paints. This category of acrylic paints is suited for learners and will give you great results without you splurging on professional-grade paints.
  • Use a quality painting brush. As suggested earlier, the ideal brush for blending acrylic paint is a soft, flat synthetic brush. Avoid knock-off versions that shed bristles, as they interfere with the blending process.

Final Words

In summary, when blending acrylic paint, you must start from the basics. Learning the proper technique and mastering speed will help you blend better. Also, remember to always use suitable quality materials to achieve quality results. 

Finally, use a gentle hand when blending, and avoid going over the brush strokes often, as this will leave you with a muddy, unattractive painting.

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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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