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In recent workshops, I’ve led artists in a series of exercises exploring acrylic mediums in traditional, as well as non-traditional, ways. In the simplest terms, mediums generally are added to paint, added to the surface or applied on top of paint. Mediums enhance or alter the properties of acrylic paint, and there are many exciting ways to use them!
One of the techniques that I taught, and the one that I received the most questions about, was using Atelier Mediums to create image transfers. Image transfers are a process of getting ink absorbed into an acrylic film. Most printed or toner-based images can transfer. Newspaper, magazine and computer laser (not ink jet) prints work well. Some things like newspaper, laser print and old catalogs on uncoated paper will transfer directly without the need of a photocopy, but some images such as photographs and coated magazine pages will need to be photocopied. Because of all the variables involved (such as image type, surface and medium) transfers are not always clean. Instead, being open to the process gives one freedom to explore and manipulate the beauty of the transferred image. Be sure to use your own images, or ones that are in the public domain, to avoid any copyright issues.
Transfers work with a variety of mediums. The ones I like the best are Binder Medium, Matte Medium/Varnish, Impasto Gel and Modelling Compound. I encourage you to experiment with these mediums to discover what you like best, as each has its own features. The Binder Medium works quickly; the Matte Medium/Varnish creates an almost invisible transfer; the Impasto Gel is more translucent but textural; and the Modelling Compound is textural and dries white. How long you wait before removing the image, and the image itself, are all factors in the success of the transfer.
To apply an image directly to a surface, use Binder Medium, Matte Medium/Varnish, Impasto Gel or Modelling Compound
To create a separate transferred element to be collaged, use Impasto Gel: