Why is my acrylic paint not blending? Reasons with Solutions

Welcome to our blog in which we gave a complete guide on acrylic painting techniques. Today’s topic is about blending acrylic paints. If you are a beginner and facing the issue of blending then this blog will solve all your problems.

This blog aims to provide a guide and solution to “Why is your acrylic paint not blending?”. 

Let’s start!

Why is your acrylic paint not blending?

Your acrylic paint is not blending due to the fast-drying nature of acrylics, Incorrect paint consistency, Poor quality of paints, inadequate blending, overworking the paint, Choosing incompatible colors, lack of a blending medium, and inadequate surface preparation.

Here are some reasons behind the blending issue of acrylic paints:

  •   Fast drying nature
  •  Incorrect paint consistency
  •  Lower quality paints
  •  Inadequate blending
  •  Overworking the paint
  •  Choosing incompatible colors
  •  Lack of a blending medium 
  •  Inadequate surface preparation

Table of Contents

Fast drying nature

One of the primary reasons behind not getting blends with acrylic paints is the nature of acrylic paints. As acrylic paints are water-based they evaporate quickly within just half an hour. Normally, we cannot use them for blending because blending takes a longer drying time and the layers are also not enough thick to stay wet. To solve the problem, we add a drying retarder that increases the drying time up to 2x.

Why it is easy to blend with oils rather than acrylics? Because oil paints are oil-based and acrylic paints are water-based. Oil paints take a long time to dry but acrylic paints dry at a faster rate with not the desired blending quality.

Incorrect paint consistency

Consistency is a very important part of blending the acrylic paint on the canvas or any other surface. Too thick or too thin a consistency is not suitable to blend perfectly. The reason is that too thick consistency creates visible brush strokes and also hinders.

On the other hand, using a too-thin consistency of paint can build extra transparency in the acrylic color that could be difficult to control. So it is important to maintain the consistency of the acrylic paint to achieve effective results.

Overworking the paint

Painting techniques are very important to applying acrylic paint. Such as before applying the next layer, provide proper setting time to dry the previous layer. Overpainting is a major cause of blending problems. The reason is that if the previous layer of the paint does not dry properly and another layer is applied can develop stickiness in the paint that will further cause challenges in blending.

You must have control over the quantity as well as the time if you want to boost results. One thing is necessary which is an acrylic retarder. Without that, one cannot do blending with acrylic paints.

Choosing incompatible colors

Some colors don’t blend naturally and artists used them in the painting which may also be a cause of not blending your acrylic paints. Here is a list of those colors that do not blend perfectly:

  • Titanium white
  • Zinc white
  • Naples yellow
  • Cadmium Colors
  • Cerulean Blue

Lack of a blending medium

Blending mediums such as Winsor & Newton flow improver are effective in creating the desired flow in acrylic paints. However, the lack of such mediums also creates problems for the artists to blend the acrylic paints.

Inadequate surface preparation

Surface preparation is an important part of the acrylic painting. A primer is always used to seal the holes on the painting surface. Later on, the balanced surface provides excellent coverage to stick the paint with the canvas. But in case you don’t apply any primer before painting then bonding cannot be done smoothly because all of your paint will be soaked in the surface.


Here are some solutions to fix the issues of blending:

  • Slow down the drying time by using retarders
  • Prepare the surface 
  • Work with Wet-on-Wet Technique
  • Enhance your layering technique
  • Control the consistency of the paint using a suitable amount of water
  • Use high-quality paints 
  • Use Blending medium
  • Use slow-drying pigments

To solve the issue of blinding, firstly you have to slow down the drying time with acrylic retarders and make sure to prime the surface before continuing. Provide a proper time to dry for every layer. Choose high-quality paints and also make sure to mix the blending medium in your acrylic paints.

How do you blend acrylic paint better?

To blend acrylic paint easily, focus on the mediums that are used to slow down the drying time of acrylic paints. Secondly, try to manage the consistency of your paints as too transparent or too opaque is not suitable for blending. Try to put some effort into the glazing technique and also understand the working of different acrylic pigments.

Use soft brushes such as feathers to create a seamless blend. High-quality paints are always better to provide good results in blending as well as classic technique.

Which acrylic paint is best for blending?

For blending, choose those acrylic paints that are smooth in consistency and color transitions. Such acrylic paints come with a labeling of Soft Body Acrylics and Fluid Acrylics. Such acrylic paints are ideal for techniques like washes, glazing, blending, and fine details.

Blending was first introduced by Bob Ross but it was not done on acrylic paints. Those were oil paints, as they are high in fluidity with a slow drying time. That’s why oil paints are the ideal choice for blending but when it comes to acrylic paints, they are not that good Still with the help of some mediums, we can create blending with them too.

For blending, I will recommend the acrylic paints of Liquitex which is the well-known brand for Acrylic supplies.

How to blend acrylic paint on paper?

Normal paper cannot hold the wet media, so you have to arrange a thick paper on which you can easily work with to wet technique. Prime the paper which is a necessary step in painting. Then take suitable colors and mix acrylic retarder in them. Now, you can paint with them but if you feel any difficulty in creating a flow of paints, we recommend using blending mediums as well.

Create thin layers and give at least one hour for the layer to dry completely then proceed further.

How to blend acrylic paint on wood?

For a wooden surface, we recommend to do sanding before priming. Make sure to seal all the porous areas on the surface and then do priming to make the paint stick to the wooden surface. As we discussed before, mix a drying retarder in the acrylic paints to make them dry at a slow rate. Use a soft brush to continue the blending process. If needed, use a blending medium as well.

To blend acrylic paint on wood so first need to use high-quality acrylic paints that have a creamy consistency which allows for smooth blending.

Can we blend acrylic paint with a sponge?

Yes, you can use a sponge to create unique and effective results with the blending technique. To do so, take a sponge and wet it in water. Avoid dipping it so much. Soak some acrylic paint on the sponge’s surface and now you are ready for the technique.

Always test the technique on paper before applying the sponge directly onto the canvas. 

Common myths

Here are some myths that are popular among artists but are not true in reality:

  • Acrylics don’t blend well: In reality, they blend very well but there is a need for proper technique
  • Blending requires expensive brushes: Blending can be achieved with any soft brush but only expensive brushes are not soft even cheaper brushes are also soft.
  • Blending works best on canvas: Instead of canvas, thmany other surfaces canrovide even better blending.
  • Acrylic mediums are not necessary for blending: This is absolutely wrong because without mediums you cannot increase the drying time of acrylic paints.


How do I use acrylic blending medium?

Using an acrylic medium is a good way to extend the blending time of the paint. So firstly add a small amount of the blending medium into acrylic paint on a palette and mix it in the ratio of 1:1.
Test the paint on a paper piece before using it directly on canvas.

Why is it easier to blend paints with oil paint than acrylic?

There is no comparison between oils and acrylics when it comes to blending. Oil paints are high in fluidity with an average of drying time between 2 days to 1 week. In this way, artists can leave the painting overnight and can continue in the morning without using any mediums.
On the other hand, acrylic paints dry a lot faster due to the addition of water that evaporates quickly. There is also a limited range of acrylic colors that work fine with blending but it is tough to get the same blending results as oil paints provide.

Should you blend acrylic paints with a wet or dry brush?

When blending the acrylic paint it is usually advised to use damp brushes rather than using dry brushes. If you use a dry brush to blend acrylic paint it can be challenging to blend and create the visible brush stocks. Using slightly damp brushes allows the paint to remain workable, and gives a smooth surface to blend. But remember not to use oversaturated brushes because they affect the color intensity as well as the pigments of the paint. 

Final Words

Your acrylic paint is not blended due to the fast-drying nature of acrylics, Incorrect paint consistency, Poor quality paints, inadequate blending technique, overworking the paint, Choosing incompatible colors, lack of blending mediums, and inadequate surface preparation. To solve the issue you have to slow down the drying time, prepare the surface correctly, work with the wet-on-wet technique, improve the layering technique, control the paint consistency, use high-quality paints, and use blending mediums

We hope you are now enjoying practicing better blending techniques with acrylic paints. If you are still interested in reading some more helpful content on acrylic paints, here are some recommended blogs for you:

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