Review: Golden’s A-Z Acrylic Set

This month, we set ourselves a real mixed media challenge: use everything in Golden’s A-Z Acrylic 30-Piece Set to make three paintings.

How did we do? Well, we managed to use almost everything! Here’s how….


The Unboxing

What’s in it? Loot! All kinds of acrylic painting loot, including several types of paint, texture mediums, glazing gels, and more. (There’s a full list here.) It’s all pro quality too; Golden makes some of the best acrylic out there, and there’s nothing in this box that isn’t artist grade.

My favorite things were the fluorescent pink paint, the metallic gold paint, and the glass bead gel. I’d never think to buy these on their own, but I found a way to use them and love them.


Open Acrylics and Our City Lady



Materials used:

  • Golden Open Medium
  • Golden Open Acrylics in Alizarin Crimson, Pthalo Blue, Indian Yellow
  • Golden Heavy Body Acrylics in Titanium White
  • Golden Fluid Acrylics in Quinacridone Gold
  • Golden Soft Gel (Gloss)
  • Golden Heavy Body Iridescent Gold (Fine)
  • hard pastel, .8 mm permanent ink pen, pencils, stencils, gold foil, collage


For this first painting, I used mostly the Open acrylics. Golden Open acrylics are meant to stay workable longer and have an oil-painterly feel; I use traditional oils often, so I was eager to try these out.

While they won’t be replacing my oils, the Open acrylics did offer a wider range of options than standard acrylics. Here’s a video of the underpainting process for “City Lady.”


Once the underpainting was finished, I added a collage centaur using Matte Gel and a cityscape drawn in hard pastel.

The Iridescent Gold paint was perfect for the glowing nimbus our lady required. Here’s a detail of City Lady and her halo.



Drawn and Dabbed: The Door



Materials Used:

  • Golden Absorbent Ground (White)
  • Golden Light Molding Paste
  • Golden Molding Paste
  • Golden Fiber Gel
  • Golden Glass Bead Gel
  • Golden Matte Medium
  • Golden Acrylic Glazing Medium (Gloss)
  • Golden Fluid Acrylics in Hansa Yellow Light, Teal, Titanium White, Iridescent Silver, Fluorescent Pink
  • Golden Heavy Body Acrylics in Hansa Yellow Medium, Ultramarine Blue
  • hard pastel, gold foil, pencil, collage


For this one, I added gold foil as well as collage and drawing. This one uses a more acrylic-painterly technique, and I used mainly the standard Heavy-Body Acrylics and the Liquids.

The underpainting of “The Door” consists of both Molding Pastes and Absorbent Ground tinted with Hansa Yellow Medium and Hansa Yellow Light. These mediums provided a toothy ground for the graphite and pastel.

Once the yellow base was dry, I used a knife to apply Iridescent Gold-tinted Fiber Paste, along with a few spatters of Liquid Iridescent Silver. Then I added graphite lines, green pastel blotches brushed with Glazing Medium, Liquid Teal blotches, and finally, this awesome magenta door.

Here’s where I decided that gold paint was not enough. I used the Soft Gel (really, this stuff is endlessly useful) to add a gold foil circle in the sky. Sun? Moon? Alien searchlight? You decide.


I layered in some more gold-tinted Glass Bead Gel to cover the hard edges of my collage. Then, using Ultramarine Blue and Modeling Paste, I knifed in some foreground. Once that was about half-dry and just still moldable, I used the end of a hard pastel to add a bit of repetitive texture.

Finally, using my trusty tiny striping bottle and some thinned Fluorescent Pink Liquid acrylic, I drew some accent lines around the foil, the door, and some of the foreground squares.

I also decided that I wanted some areas of the painting to be more matte, so I used a light brushing/dabbing of Matte Medium to cut back the glare and reclaim the plaster/stucco feel of the background.

Fluorescent pink is my new favorite color.


Third Time’s Not Always the Charm

And this third painting is where I lost it.


Materials Used:

  • Golden Heavy Gel (Matte)
  • Golden Soft Gel
  • Golden Glass Bead Gel
  • Golden Clear Tar Gel
  • Golden High Flow Acrylics in Indigo, Titanium White
  • Golden Heavy Body Acrylics in Quinacridone Magenta, Hansa Yellow Medium, Iridescent Gold (Fine)
  • Golden Liquid Acrylics in Green Gold, Fluorescent Pink
  • gold foil, collage

Below are the beginning stages, which included Glass Bead Gel, Light Modeling Paste, and Matte Gel, along with various paints.

I also added the first stages of the collage, a layer of glaze created with Glazing Liquid and Quinacridone Magenta, and more gold foil. Then I stenciled in some grass and pseudo-buildings.

Now here’s where things really went sideways. The challenge was to use everything in the box, and I hadn’t used the Clear Tar Gel yet. I’ve never used Clear Tar Gel, but hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, this.

It was tons of fun to play with and I can see how it might have its uses, but Tar Gel plus Liquid Indigo plus my inexperience equalled this over-the-top mess.


It happens. Sometimes I think that half my job is figuring out how to work with the latest unexpected near-disaster.

You can’t always save a painting, no, but you can finish it.┬áIn this case, I just painted over the stringy Tar Gel with more Indigo and made it nighttime. I added more gold paint, some green buildings, and of course more foil.

Gold foil doesn’t fix everything, but at this point it didn’t hurt. This lady and her celestial watcher don’t live in my favorite painting ever, but they do live.




So how did I do?

The only component I didn’t use was the Polymer Liquid and the Crackle Paste. 28 out of 30 isn’t too shabby, and while I did cram at least one too many techniques into that third painting, the overall results are thumbs-up.

These three paintings used very little of the paints and mediums, too. There’s a ton of everything left, even the Tar Gel.

(Good. I need practice with the Tar Gel. In fact, if anyone has any Tar Gel successes, I’d love to take a peek, maybe hear some tips.)

I bought this set locally, but you may need to order it from one of the better online suppliers. You can get it for around $60, and for sheer experimentation value, it’s definitely worthwhile.

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