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I think the mixing paint for marbling is one of the major challenges when learning to marble. It can effect how the finished piece looks – for example, when you get what looks like goopy spots where you want straight lines, Or it can frustrate you when “throwing” your paint and your drops spread too far (that is, “are too aggressive,” in marbling speak) or they don’t spread far enough. And what about when the drop just sinks to the bottom!!

Well, I’m not going to say I have the answer to all these problems all the time – marbling has too many moving parts for that, BUT I have found that learning to mix my paints carefully in the right proportions in the first place and learning one major rule has really helped.

You should also know that I use Golden Fluid Acrylic paints. I have been told that marblers should use only one brand of paint to marble. This is because you do not want to mix chemistries of how the paints are made. Chemistry is a big part of the marbling process! Everyone I know uses Golden Fluid Acrylics and so I have stayed with them.

The right general proportions: What works for me is to put a dollop of paint in my plastic cup (I use plastic cups in a PVC collar so it won’t spill) about the size of a 25-cent piece and then fill the cup with about 1 ½ ounces of water. Over time I’ve learned what that looks like in my cups. The paint mixture should have the consistency of half and half if you are using other types of acrylic paint.

This is where I start and then I test it by dropping it with the other paints I’m going to use. Different pigments seem to take more or less water and what colors  you drop on top of other colors also sometimes has an effect.

I don’t use any additives – they have never worked for me although many people suggest many different additives. I have found that if the paint is mixed in the correct proportions most of the time they will work as I want.

One Major Rule: If the drops don’t spread I add a little more paint. If the drops spread too much I add water. Yes, I know, this is counter intuitive!! And I have to think about it every time I need to adjust paints but it works! I’m sure it has something to do with the surface tension but I haven’t dipped into the physics – I’m interested in what works.

This of course is just the beginning of a discussion about paint! More will be coming!

Sally Power

Author Sally Power

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