Acrylics carry their own natural luster, but you can easily boost their brilliance by adding a little gloss medium. A good-quality gloss bonds nicely with paints, extending their drying time and allowing them to flow with ease as you blend and build colors to produce luminescent effects. Glosses are also handy to keep around for use as a varnish; simply slick on a thin layer to accentuate final colors with extra shine.
1. Liquitex Gloss Acrylic Medium and Varnish
Liquitex’s gloss medium excels at both extending your paint’s volume and finishing your artworks with a sleek protective coat. Liquid yet not too runny, this gloss enhances the flow of paint without compromising its stability. It provides a nice sheen to colors, bringing out brushwork and highlighting different tones. This gloss is available only in an 8-ounce bottle, but it will serve you well and go a long way.
2. DecoArt DuraClear Gloss Varnish
DecoArt’s product works best as a sealer that enhances finished paintings with a shiny, satinlike finish. Easy to apply, it dries quickly, resulting in a clear protective coating that can even withstand the elements under mild weather conditions. You can add more layers to achieve a stronger gloss effect, and the coating won’t bubble as it dries.
3. U.S. Art Supply Gloss Pouring Medium
This product from U.S. Art Supply is especially useful when pouring paint, as it helps acrylics flow smoothly while retaining their colors. It can be a little clumpy when squeezed straight out of the bottle, with a cottage cheese–like texture in its raw state, so you may want to spend some time experimenting with the paint-to-medium ratio. But the gloss is easy to blend, and once you’ve found your ideal consistency, the resulting mixture carries pigments beautifully. It is a satisfying way to add some shine to your pours, although artists who are particularly sensitive to smell might find the odor a little overwhelming.
4. Sargent Art Acrylic Gloss and Varnish
This is an excellent gloss medium for intensifying and brightening colors. While some glosses can be tacky, Sargent Art’s product is nice and light. so mixing it with acrylics increases their flow very well. The gloss effect is almost glasslike, creating a soft luster that you can use to highlight certain areas of your paintings. Or use this medium to seal your art in a sturdy but clear coat with a beautiful sheen.
5. Golden Polymer Gloss
Whether you’re applying it to dry surfaces or mixing it with wet acrylics, this gloss medium leaves your work with a velvety-smooth finish. Creamy in consistency—it’s just a little thicker than honey—it helps acrylics shine without causing them to get runny. Just a thin layer of this gloss will provide your works with a brilliant patina as it dries perfectly clear. Because Golden’s product doesn’t clump easily, it is also excellent for building up layers.