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I just finished watching Betty Krause's recording of her Paint With Betty live workshop this past June. What I like about Betty's work is the variety of shapes and marks that she layers into her paintings. I want to stay and look at her paintings for a long time and enjoy the contrasts - it feels so rich and complex and energetic.

I've also been watching Nancy Reyner's Ultimate Acrylic Painting Course on Skillshare to learn more acrylic techniques. I am interested in how to mix color and use various acrylic gels and pastes to play with textures.

Today I decided to add acrylic soft gloss gel and regular matte gel into two different paintings. In this painting, I explored making some of the marks that Betty Krause uses in her work - blocks and dabs - with a variety of brush shapes and sizes. I then quieted the composition by painting from the corners towards the middle of the board.

The soft gloss gel made some of the paint transparent, like a glaze. I also used it to paint multiple thin layers over a shape to build it up. I experimented with putting different colors next to each other, playing with different color saturations within a larger shape, and combining hard and soft edges.

Abstract acrylic painting with blocks of color
Color Tablets - 12 x 12 in. Acrylic on Wood Panel

In the next wood panel, I painted over an old board. I experimented with using regular matte gel and a palette knife. I mixed a pile of the blue color and added a little bit of it to all the paint mixtures I made today so they would all relate to this "mother" color.

I used a palette knife to spread the paint onto the board, then I went over the edges of the shapes to soften them with a brush and I also played around with making some drips. I limited the areas where I added the gel so there could be places where the paint was applied thickly next to areas that are thin. I also scratched into the thick paint with the end of my paintbrush.

Abstract acrylic painting with thick blue and green areas combined with thinner cool gray areas.
Aegean Teal - 12 x 12 in. Acrylic on Wood Panel


I like the effect of making multiple thin layers of paint and gloss gel to make a shape. It feels more luminous and rich, especially when darker and desaturated colors are next to it.

I liked using the regular matte gel to make thicker paint. I liked using a palette knife and a brush to play with the pain edges. I think the impasto effect are more effective when they are limited to specific areas.

I want to try adding thin layers of matte and gloss gel on parts of a painting and experiment with how these layers could create a sense of depth. I also want to add more marks with pastels and pencils so I have a greater variety of shapes and lines. I'm interested in how to create a sense of space with these techniques and how I could this to my advantage when I paint portraits.

What I'm Listening To:

Rebecca Crowell's podcast, The Messy Studio, Episode 143 Quirky Mashups: Mixed Media Ideas. First episode I've listened to from Rebecca Crowell. I picked this one because I am looking for ideas on how to draw on acrylic paintings. Not really a lot about this specific issue in this episode by some interesting ideas from her Facebook Group.

Also, listened to Learn to Paint Podcast, Episode 14: Lisa Daria Kennedy and Episode 15: Debbie Miller. I liked this gem: "It's not about the final product but showing up everyday." I've taken Lisa's classes before and I like how she sees painting as a regular practice and it's a way for her to make her mark on the world.

How are you making your mark on the world?

Today I experimented with using Golden Acrylic's Light Molding Paste to build up texture on a painting board. The molding paste looks white, but when it dries, it is translucent. I mixed the molding paste with Golden fluid acrylic paints and I used an offset palette knife to spread the mixture on the painting board.

The colors I used today included warm and cool versions of the primaries:

Warm Primaries

  • Hansa Yellow Medium

  • Napthol Red Light

  • Anthroquinone Blue - love this color

Cool Primaries

  • Hansa Yellow Light

  • Quinacradone Magenta

  • Pthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade) - very strong tinting!

I also used:

  • Pthalocyanine Green (Blue Shade)

  • Titanium White

The colors I mixed up are inspired by the Benjamin Moore 2021 Spring/Summer Palette. I tried to replicate Aegean Teal, Beacon Hill Damask, Rosy Peach. And I threw in a Fuchsia for fun.


The paint consistency was very similar to chocolate frosting or softened butter. I used the palette knife to make some thicker areas for emphasis and scraped away thinner areas to blend with the underlying layer. I loved pretending that I was icing a cake.

I played around with the proportion of molding paste to paint — it is possible to make the the paint so soupy that the molding paste loses its viscosity. I noticed that mixing the paint into the molding paste first, then correcting it to the right color seemed to work better than pre-mixing the color, then adding the molding paste on to it.

What's Next?

I love thick consistency of the molding paste and the scraping and frosting marks I could make with a palette knife. I seem to prefer a painting with a strong physical presence as an object. It might be good to experiment with gradually building up thin glazes and seeing how I feel about that process as a contrast.

The light molding paste has a gritty texture that could make it accept drawing media like pastels on top of it. The light molding paste is also somewhat matte when it dries, so I could try adding gloss gel on top to add a sheen or a glaze on top of an area.

In the Background:

I recently discovered the Learn To Paint Podcast. Kelly Anne Powers is a very good interviewer. She asks specific and insightful questions that really help me think about how I am developing my art process. Also the show notes conveniently include a time log and links to the artist's websites and social media accounts so it's easy for me to learn more and follow. Most of the artists are also teachers who offer workshops and classes.

Today I was listening to Episode 10 with Betty Franks Krause. Krause is an abstract acrylic painter who uses an inspiring variety of marks in her paintings. In this episode, she talks about the importance of process and taking the time to write down your process so you can learn what process works best for you as an artist.