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Derivan Mediums


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These mediums add even more versatility to the Derivan Student and (the new) Derivan Acrylic ranges, unlocking the door to many different and varied techniques.

Acrylic paints are very versatile because they can be manipulated to achieve a myriad of effects; for example, the addition of water to create a watercolour or wash effect.

There are many different "painting mediums" to help change and manipulate acrylic colours so that an artist can achieve almost any effect.



Pre Antiquing Medium

A specially designed formula to create a layer between your finished acrylic painting and an antique varnish or wax.

Brush on one thin coat before antiquing to help protect the painted surface from movement and abrasion. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours before antiquing.

This medium will secure the paint whilst still providing great tooth to continue working with, or antiquing over your painting.

arrow Available in 250ml size.

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Oil Based Patina - 250ml


For Antiquing techniques, we recommend the use of Matisse MM20 Water-Based Patina. Instructions on how to use can be found on our Antiquing & Distressing technique page.

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Water-based Cracking Medium

Derivan Cracking Medium lets you produce works that have that weathered and old country farm feel. To obtain a crackled look, there are three steps and three layers involved. The Cracking Medium is sandwiched between the two layers of different coloured Matisse Background Colours.

For detailed instructions about the technique, visit the Cracking page.

Note: Derivan Cracking Medium has been made to crack the Matisse Background Colours only. Other brands of paint may work with this medium; however, we cannot guarantee performance.

arrow Available in 250ml and 1 Litre sizes.

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Spreader Medium

Derivan Acrylic and Derivan Students grade acrylic paints offer a thick consistency suitable for impasto, oil painting and brush stroke techniques but their high tintorial strength allows for ready dilution with water or mediums giving the painter free expression by selective use of these mediums.

One such medium is "Spreader Medium" and the purpose of this medium is to spread large volumes of transparent colour over selected areas while maintaining a controlled paint viscosity. Acrylic colour can be added in small or large increments to the Spreader Medium. Spreader Medium is a transparent flowing paste. It dries fairly "flat" and when dry can hardly be discerned on a painted or unpainted area, i.e. it leaves almost no stain.

Its main application is for glazing where it imparts fine flow and controlled spreadability and lubrication to the paint. Used on its own, the medium does not dry waterproof and can therefore be used as an intermediary between two partially dried paint films if some water sensitivity for wash areas is desired.

Applied over a dried paint film, it gives a wet effect but will recede to an almost invisible film when dry. As Spreader Medium dries relatively slow when applied over a well-primed or heavily painted area, it increases workability within the paint.

Soft colour hues and delicate tone on tone can be obtained by using Spreader Medium.

Spreader Medium can be used to pre-dilute Derivan acrylic colours to infinity thereby increasing transparency (this may also increase water sensitivity).

Polymer Gloss Varnish is the natural intermixer with the spreader to increase water resistance. Pre-addition of 1 part Polymer Gloss Varnish to 4 parts Spreader Medium is sufficient to impart water resistance to the medium.

arrow Available in 500ml and 2 Litre sizes.

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Pouring Medium

Derivan Pouring Medium is a clear product that when applied to a surface or as a paint additive will automatically spread and create a smooth, glossy finish with minimal surface texture. It is ideal for high gloss thick varnishing, pouring and marbling techniques. Apply with a brush, palette knife or Refillables containers. Can be tinted with Derivan Acrylics or Derivan Inks. For more information on this product go to HERE .

arrow Available in 250ml, 1ltr and 5 ltr size.

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Gel Medium

The purpose of Derivan Gel Medium is to act as a clear transparent colour extender in the production of brilliant coloured glazes and as a transparent impasto for thick 3-dimensional brush and knife applications of Derivan acrylic paint ranges.

Its prime requirement is to be thick and buttery whilst remaining fully transparent.

arrow Available in 250ml size.

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Impasto Medium

This medium is a heavy-bodied paint, free of colour pigmentation (it isn't a gel).

It is most valuable for oil painting brush stroke and impasto techniques, particularly when heavy built-up areas of colour are required.

Impasto Medium dries to a low subdued sheen which is similar to the sheen on a dried paint film of acrylic colour.

It is equally water-resistant.

Impasto Medium allows for free intermixing with the Derivan colours in any proportion. There is little visual colour loss when equal volumes of a Derivan colour and Impasto Medium are intermixed. Although Impasto Medium is not fully transparent when dry, it does not appear to alter the richness of Derivan colours in any way. Impasto Medium is also suitable for use as a light modelling compound.

It can be applied by knife or brush in heavy blobs onto the original primed canvas and when dry, fully over-painted with Derivan colours.

Do not use Impasto as a transparent glue or size where its slightly milky opacity could cause some discolouration. However, it makes a high quality acid-free glue or size where transparency is not a concern.

arrow Available in 250ml, 500ml and 2 Litre sizes.

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Printing Gel

Printing Gel is used in silk screen printing with Derivan acrylics.

Both Derivan Student and Derivan Acrylic can be mixed with Derivan Printing Gel to keep the colours from drying and clogging the screen mesh. Using this medium, many prints can be made at one time without having to clean the mesh between every print. Screen printing can be done on paper or board.

Printing Gel is also used to reduce colour strength when transparent colours are required for printing. Mix the Printing Gel into the colour until desired transparency is reached.

Printing Gel is also an excellent inexpensive craft glue for paper.

arrow Available in 250ml, 500ml and 2 Litre sizes.

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Derivan Gesso is a great primer for canvas, board or even paper.

The strong white ground gives an excellent tooth for easy paint manipulation.

Being a water-based product, Derivan Gesso can be thinned down with water if desired. If working on canvas, Derivan Gesso will tighten the canvas when dry giving a taut ground on which to paint.

Derivan Gesso can be used to paint over old acrylic works to give the artist a like new surface to paint on. If more than one coat is desired, then it is advisable to sand lightly between coats to obtain a smooth finish.

arrow Available in 250ml, 500ml, 2 Litre and 4 Litre sizes.

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Clear Sealer

Use for sealing very porous surfaces such as terracotta or as a tannin blocker for “green” wood.

Clear Sealer can be used if you want to paint a design on the raw wood leaving the natural grain revealed. It can also be used on glass, ceramics, terracotta pots and new metal.

All surfaces should be clean and dust-free before Clear Sealer application.For porous surfaces such as wood, terracotta pots, unfired ceramics, etc. apply diluted with up to 1 part water to 2 parts Clear Sealer.

arrow Available in 250ml size.

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Drying Retarder

Retarder as the name suggests, retards or slows the drying time of the paint.

There are two ways to use this medium. The first is to use up to 3% Retarder to colour; this will result in a slightly more fluid colour that will stay wet for much longer. The second method is to put the Retarder in a hand pumped spray bottle (atomiser) and spray it onto the painting you want to keep wet. (The spray bottle should create a mist not a hard squirt).

Additions of drying retarder to mixing water may be used in water colouring, water wash effects, stain painting and hard edge techniques where it assists in pigment wetting, rapid colour diffusion and penetration.

arrow Available in 250ml and 500ml sizes.

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Polymer Gloss Varnish

This Gloss Medium can be used as a gloss finishing varnish and as a glossy additive to the paint.

Mixed with Derivan colours, it increases gloss and flow characteristics. Used as a finishing varnish, it produces a strong, protective, tack-free, clear film.

Pictures treated with Polymer Gloss will appear to look like work done with oil paints or shiny enamel. Polymer Gloss Varnish is freely intermixable with Derivan Acrylics.

It is water-based and may appear slightly milky whilst wet. This is an optical effect produced by light refraction of acrylic particles suspended within the water-based film. The effect disappears when the film is dry.

As acrylics dry very rapidly, care should be taken to apply varnish pre-diluted with water (as per directions on labels). Polymer Gloss Varnish applied in very thick layers on a hot day could trap moisture, resulting in a cloudy film which would be very difficult to correct, e.g. all Derivan painting mediums are freely intermixable - Polymer Gloss Varnish will intermix with Spreader Medium to give a glossy glaze effect (however, do not mix turps varnishes with other mediums). Nevertheless, painters are advised to use some discretion in pre-determining their selection of mediums to avoid unwanted effects.

arrow Available in 250ml, 500ml and 2 Litre sizes.

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Polymer Matt Varnish

Used as a final varnish over a dried, well-cured acrylic painting when a flat, matt or very low sheen is required.

Most suitable as a protective coating particularly over large works exposed to damage in public galleries, commercial paintings required for floodlit photographic reproduction and paintings that would be improved by eliminating unbalanced glossy highlights.

It is water-based and may appear slightly milky whilst wet. The effect disappears when the film is dry.

arow Available in 250ml size.

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Viscosity Thickener

This is an additive that is meant to be stirred into the colour to give a thick buttery consistency.

Originally it was formulated to give the perfect paint thickness for screen-printing. However, it is now widely used to thicken colours to achieve an impasto effect in painting.

Add 2 teaspoons of thickener per 250ml of paint. Use sparingly as this a very effective medium (not compatible with fluorescent colours).

Paint that has been thickened with Viscosity Thickener should be used within 48 hours or so.

arrow Available in 250ml size.

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Fabric Fixative

If washproof fabric paint is required, Derivan Fabric Fixative mixed with Derivan colours will become permanent on clothes after heat fixing.

Mix equal parts of Fabric Fixative and Derivan colours, then paint and let dry before you heat set with an iron to make the garment wash-fast.

Some synthetic fabrics are non-absorbent and thus not suitable for paint application. Test your fabric beforehand. Also avoid applying the paint too thickly as this may cause the paint to crack.

arrow Available in 250ml and 500ml sizes.

Heat Fixing Prints

It is necessary to heat fix the image. To render it washproof. Heat fixing can take many forms. The main points to be observed are:

  • The image has been air dried before it is heat fixed.
  • When heat fixing, the heat is applied evenly over the image.
  • The heat is applied continuously for the required time over the image.
  • Be sure not to scorch or burn the image or garment.
  • Any type of heat can be used. Heat tunnels, ovens, even the humble household iron, can all be used. If using contact heat (for instance an iron), use a tea towel or another piece of cotton cloth over the image to iron on. Do not iron directly over the print.

Heat Fixing Times and Temperatures

Heat fixing times and temperatures vary. However, as a guide:

Cotton, calico, linen, rayon: 4-5mins at 140c-180c.
Synthetic, nylon, polyester, tetron, acrylic: 5-8mins at 115c-130c.

Important projects warrant a test. Tests should always be done on the fabric to determine maximum temperatures (to avoid the fabric or the image being scorched or burnt) and times required to make the image fast. Test by heat fixing a test strip and washing in a heavy-duty cycle.

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Block Ink Medium and Extender

Derivan Block Ink Medium and Extender is a versatile medium which can be used in two ways to create fantastic relief prints.

  • As an extender - add to derivan Block Ink colours to extend and make your colours more transparent without losing the body of the paint as would it happen when adding water.
  • As a medium - add Matisse Structure Acrylic paint colours to Block Ink Medium and Extender to create block ink from the paint.

When using as an extender add from 1:9 to 9:1 ratio of Block Ink Medium & Extender to Derivan Block Ink colour. Up to about 3:7 ratio the colour will be extended, after this the colour will start to become more transparent. Tackiness may also increase.
When using as medium to turn acrylic paint into block ink a ratio of 6:4 Block Ink Medium & Extender to Matisse Structure Acrylic colours is recommended.

arrow Available in 250ml and 1 Litre sizes.

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Brush & Hand Cleaner

Derivan Brush & Hand Cleaner was created in response to requests for a gentle cleaner that can remove paint from both brushes and hands. Derivan Brush & Hand Cleaner is a naturally derived and made from replenishable natural resources and contains no hazardous toxic or polluting ingredients. It is grey water and septic tank safe, and completely biodegradable without effluent treatment processes.

arrow Available in 500ml size.

Directions for Use:

Cleaning Brushes

Clean excess paint off brush, rinse brush with warm water.  Work Brush & Hand Cleaner into a lather on brush and hands, rinse and repeat until water runs clear. Reform the tip with your fingers to reshape bristles and dry flat to prevent excess moisture gathering at the base of the bristles.  If dried paint has made a brush unusable, don’t throw it away use Derivan Brush Restorer to bring your brush back to life.


Wet skin and apply a small amount of Derivan Hand and Brush Cleaner to skin. Lather and massage hands to remove all traces of paint.

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Brush Restorer

Derivan Brush Restorer is designed to replace dangerous, butyl-based cleaners with a powerful safe and plant based alternative. It can remove dried, built up paint from brushes without the use of harsh chemicals and dangerous fumes. Derivan Brush Restorer contains natural solvents and vegetable-derived detergents which are not hazardous to humans, animals or the ecosystem. It is free-rinsing and will not corrode brush ferrules. It is also grey water and septic tank safe, and completely biodegradable without effluent treatment processes.

arrow Available in 500ml size.

Directions for Use:

Soak brush in Derivan Brush restorer overnight, this will loosen the paint.  Rinse with water to remove the paint residue.  If brush is not completely clean work brush restorer into bristles with fingers for several minutes then rinse with water.


Store in a cool, dry place.


Avoid contact with skin eyes. Rinse with water if this occurs. Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water after handling.

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Just as many artists are sensitive to their environment, we at Derivan are also sensitive to our impact on the environment. We have always endeavored to develop art products that help keep our world as pretty as a picture, through minimising waste and environmentally aware manufacturing processes.

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